Nurse Trixie Franklin actress Helen George will be absent from a chunk of series seven. The reason? After delivering endless on-screen babies, she gave birth to her own – right in the middle of filming.
George was actually pregnant all the way through filming for series seven, but her bump was disguised with the careful deployment of clipboards and capes until she simply couldn't hide it any more. Little Wren, her daughter with co-star Jack Ashton, arrived three weeks early in September and has already become the "Call the Midwife baby".
"Helen was able to graciously retire – she just had a couple of episodes off," creator Heidi Thomas revealed at a screening in London. "But we were working towards that."
The details of Trixie's (temporary) exit storyline have not been revealed. Will an emergency take her away from Nonnatus House? Or could she go and visit Barbara and Tom at their new home in Birmingham?
Unfortunately the pregnancy couldn't be built into Trixie's own storyline because she's only in the tentative early days of a relationship with divorced dentist Christopher. And she may be a flirt, but this midwife is actually pretty innocent. They've not even spent the night together yet.
More like this
George explained: "I was pregnant in the series, so you just kind of see me walk across the screen sometimes with odd fashions, or I'd sit down a lot, or I'm wearing lots of capes.
"It wasn't a correct storyline to choose for the character, as well. It wasn't right for Trixie to be pregnant. So we just did our best to cover it up."
With two parents in the cast, baby Wren was immediately part of the Call the Midwife family.
Thomas reveals: "We were so excited, but so sworn to secrecy, because quite rightly it was Helen and Jack's business. But it was sort of family business. Oh, she is the prettiest sweetest little thing."
"Can you imagine, with parents like that?" Judy Parfitt, who plays Sister Monica Joan, added. "And she really is, to us, the Call the Midwife baby. She's our baby."
Read the Radio Times interview with Helen George, out on Tuesday 16th January. Call the Midwife returns on Sunday 21st January at 8pm on BBC1