As the characters of BBC’s popular drama Call the Midwife march towards the swinging sixties, actress Pam Ferris has reflected on why it’s important to remember how far we’ve come.

“The fashion of birthing has changed so much since the first two series of Call the Midwife. Now in the third we say things like ‘get into the correct position for giving birth’ and slowly even men are creeping into the room [as we saw in the Christmas special]. Of course, I can imagine Sister Evangelina is going to fight that one!” laughed Pam, who plays the no-nonsense nun.

Pam, perhaps best known for her roles in Connie, Matilda, Darling Buds of May and Where the Heart Is, added:

“I hope younger viewers really appreciated how much and how fast things changed, and not throw away the liberty it’s afforded them. It’s important to see and understand how tough these times were.

“As a nation we need to tell ourselves who we are through drama. I’m not knocking reality TV shows, but they aren’t shaped stories. They are incidents. There’s a fundamental need for stories.”

The current series of Call the Midwife airs on BBC1 on Sundays at 8pm.