Midwife's Ben: 'Peter and Chummy return with a surprise'
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PC Noakes and Chummy return to Call The Midwife this week and we caught up with Ben Caplan, who plays the Poplar policeman, to talk about working with Miranda and the little surprise the couple are bringing back from Africa..
Chummy and PC Noakes are back from Sierra Leone! What have they been up to over there?
"We weren't given a huge amount of information about what they've been doing in Africa and I'm afraid we won't be seeing any of their adventures. But with Chummy working as a missionary and PC Noakes joining the local police force, they've certainly got a few stories to share with their friends!"
Are they pleased to be home or do they miss life out in Africa?
"The weather was much nicer out there, but they're pleased to be back home. Although Chummy was following her dream, they both had initial reservations about going out there so it's given them confidence, but it's also made them aware of how many good friends they have in Poplar."
Has the trip strengthened their marriage?
"I'd say so. They had quite a lot to overcome in the first series just to be together so finding out that Chummy wanted to become a missionary has been a big deal for both of them. But I think they realised early on that they can depend on each other. Besides, Peter is so devoted, he'll support Chummy no matter where she leads him."
Why do you think Peter and Chummy are so well suited to each other?
"They appreciate each other's inner beauty and they've both been quite shy with the opposite sex in the past, so they're kind of kindred spirits in a way. Peter loves the warmth and care that Chummy shows in her work. Their relationship is often seen as old fashioned from our perspective today, but it's also very chivalrous. What's great about them is that they don't know a lot about each other as they meet each other and they discover that slowly. Neither is more confident than they other and they're both relatively inexperienced in relationships so they learn and grow together."
What is it like working so closely with Miranda Hart?
"Both of us realised that we needed to be portraying real 3D characters and Miranda knew that although there are comic elements to Chummy, this was the first time she would be playing something serious and dramatic. We do have a laugh and enjoy each other's company and I think that chemistry comes through on the screen, but we were both determined to make sure their relationship was based on reality. Although they were uncomfortable, ditzy characters at times, they had a lot of heart and they cared for each other. There's something very touching about them. I have to admit that there are times on set when we're struggling to keep a straight face, but we both really cared about the show so we wanted people to invest in our on-screen relationship."
What can you tell us about the 'surprise' they're bringing back from Sierra Leone?
"It's a big thing for both of them and they return to a huge amount of love and support from their colleagues. It's not until the end of the series that everything emerges and the real story will begin next year in the third series! The real story will begin next year."
It would be lovely if Chummy and Peter brought a baby back with them?
"Their lives will never be the same - but that's about as much as I can say!
You must be delighted that the show's been renewed for a third series and another Christmas Special?
"Yes we're all so pleased. We really get on and have a great laugh making the show so it will be brilliant to go back to Poplar. Hopefully everyone will be coming back again for a third series!"
Why do you think it's been so popular?
"Ultimately it's a story about humanity - it covers birth, death, love, friendship, these are universal stories that can affect anyone. It also harks back to a time where people really did support each other within a community. Last year with the Olympics and the Jubilee there was a sense of going back to those years after the war when people did have to pull together. I think that people who lived through the 50s are really nostalgic about it because things were moving forward and that theme of hope really appeals to people. Not to mention the styles of the 1950s are coming back a bit these days!"