This show has been around for what seems like forever and it has successfully outlived many of the BBC’s more high-octane dramas. It isn’t full of cunning plots and casual violence like Peaky Blinders, and there’s no sexy scenes like in Normal People, but something equally valuable is on offer here: perfectly saccharine Sunday night telly.
When you’ve finished a weekend full of outings and too many beer garden pints, and you’re settling into your Sunday evening with the quiet but looming dread of Monday morning around the corner, you might not fancy the anxiety-inducing Line of Duty on your telly. No, you’re much better off with a sweet and soothing period drama.
Call the Midwife is based on the accounts of Jennifer Worth, who wrote memoirs of her time as a midwife in 1950s London. It follows Jenny Lee as she leaves her middle-class home and lifestyle to go and work in the capital’s smoky East End, living in a convent called Nonnatus House and forming deep connections with her fellow midwives, and the nuns that they share a home with. With them, we wander through the cobbled streets of Poplar, visiting expectant mothers and falling more and more in love with these cycling midwives and their gentle natter.
Considering we’re dealing with pregnancy and childbirth, there is naturally a good amount of drama, with illness and affairs a regular theme. However, all of it is served so gently, and with kindness and its core, that you can rest assured no episode will keep you up fretting all night. In fact, it more often leans towards the funny side of things, with these quirky nuns forever making quips before tottering off to midday prayer.
We also have to give credit to the writers for creating ten, consistently great series, with the latest one getting another round of complimentary press. The Times’s Ben Dowell says, “It is notable that during the dark days of the pandemic one of the shows the BBC was most determined to get on the air was Call the Midwife,” continuing to say he’d “suggest that it’s adored by a good amount of its many fans precisely because it’s the opposite, and that it’s in fact one of the boldest and most quietly radical shows on the box.”
And The Telegraph’s Michael Hogan agrees, calling it “a triumph: a series created by, starring and largely about women which has quietly become the BBC’s biggest drama.” By the looks of this season, it will retain that status, as The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson says it’s “still shining after all these years.”
First shown January 2021. Watch the trailer for the latest season here: