Call the Midwife will introduce an exciting new member of the Nonnatus House team in series seven: the first West Indian midwife to feature as a regular character in the BBC1 drama.
The character, called Lucille, has yet to be cast, although creator Heidi Thomas says introducing a midwife from outside of the UK will bring "a fresh new energy to life at Nonnatus House".
"My research is continually bringing up new things. One thing we’re really looking forward to in series seven is my research has made me very aware of the contributions made by West Indian and Caribbean nurses to the NHS in the early 1960s," she explained at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival.
"We’ll be introducing our first West Indian young regular midwife to Nonnatus House in series seven," Thomas continued. "She’s going to bring stories with her, and a different cultural point of view, and that’s very exciting."
Like the thalidomide and female genital mutilation storylines of earlier series, Thomas said that choosing to develop the ethnic diversity of Nonnatus House was based on her own historical research of the period.
"During my research into nursing in the early 1960's, I was both moved and impressed to learn about the contribution of Caribbean nurses to the National Health Service at that time," she said, adding that new character Lucille will quickly become part of the fabric of the show.
"Elegant, funny and clever, Lucille is swift to settle in, and brings a fresh new energy to life at Nonnatus House. Casting is currently underway, and we look forward to introducing Lucille to our ten million fans very soon."
Thomas revealed the casting news at a special Call the Midwife panel at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, along with executive producer Pippa Harris, producer Ann Tricklebank and actor Stephen McGann, who plays Dr Patrick Turner (above).
Thomas also revealed the name of Dr Turner and his wife Shelagh's son, who was born during the series six finale. His full name is Edward Patrick Turner, but he will be known as 'baby Teddy' when the drama returns for the 2017 Christmas special.
Call the Midwife will return to BBC1 for a Christmas special, before series seven kicks off in the new year.
Heidi Thomas was speaking at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival.