Call the Midwife

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Hit BBC One eight-part drama series Call the Midwife is an insight into the colourful world of midwifery and family life in 1950s East London. The main character, Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), arrives in the community, staying at Nonnatus House to live and work as a midwife alongside an order of Anglican nuns. At the heart of this East End society are the Sisters of St Raymond Nonnatus, active as Anglican nursing nuns since the beginning of the 20th century. The Sisters and the midwives of Nonnatus House carry out many nursing duties, but with up to 100 babies being born each month in Poplar alone, their primary work is to help bring safe childbirth to women in the area and to look after their countless newborns. Co-director Philippa Lowthorpe says:"I love stories about real people and I love stories about women which are unearthed from an unknown history and this project had both elements. I thought these midwives and Nuns are truly unsung heroines. The work they did in the East End was amazing and no one has ever celebrated that before. But the women themselves were completely down to earth, very funny, and very human, sometimes bad tempered and fed up, sometimes making mistakes - just so real."I love the fact that the nuns weren't at all saintly!"Executive producer Pippa Harris added:"[The book] Call The Midwife cried out to be a TV series. It was the mixture of wonderful characters, gripping storylines and the combination of humour and pathos that made me think it would work well on TV."I loved the fact that Jennifer's writing gives you an insight into a recent, yet long vanished world. Although she was only writing about the late 50s, this post-war period in the East End was extremely tough. Surrounded by bomb damage, and sometimes living in slum conditions, women gave birth to baby after baby often with no running water, clean bed linen or pain relief."Alongside newcomer Jessica, the cast includes Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Miranda Hart and Judy Parfitt. Three other new faces, Helen George, Bryony Hannah and Laura Main, complete the regular ensemble cast. Vanessa Redgrave provides the narration as the mature Jenny.

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