Call the Midwife's creator says Miranda Hart's late withdrawal lead to a complete rewrite of the new series

The new series of Call The Midwife had to be rewritten after Miranda Hart pulled out, its creator has said.

The actress, 44, who played loveable midwife Camilla ‘Chummy’ Browne, announced last year that she would not return to the period drama despite suggestions from producers that she would.

The show’s creator and writer Heidi Thomas has told Radio Times magazine that she had written Miranda into the sixth series, which screens later this month, but she withdrew at ‘relatively short notice’.

Miranda Hart in Call The Midwife
Miranda Hart in Call The Midwife (BBC/Neal Street Productions)

 

“We were thrilled when Miranda approached us, and I storylined the series for her, but at relatively short notice she had to withdraw,” Heidi said.

Asked how much notice she was given, Heidi said: “I can’t say, but it was short. We were hopeful right up to the end that we could make it work, but we couldn’t.

“I just rewrote the series without Miranda in it, which was sad because we would have loved having her in it. She is part of the Call The Midwife family. But (this time) it wasn’t meant to be.”

Miranda, who quit the show during series four because of work commitments, said she could not return because she could not make the schedule work.

The new instalment of the BBC1 drama, originally based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, is set in 1962 and tackles the issue of female genital mutilation.

Heidi said she ensured a small detail, which the broadcaster wanted to remove on the grounds of taste and decency, remained on-screen.

Asked if she should have represented the issue more critically, she said: “We are a medical drama, not a moral drama. We are not judging this woman.”

She added: “There is one small medical detail on screen which the BBC did question, in terms of taste and decency. And we said very firmly, if you erase that small visual moment, it is underplaying the horror and the pain of the situation.”

While movies based on other period dramas such as Downton Abbey are said to be in the works, Heidi said she is not interested in a big-screen spin-off: “It has never been discussed.”

She said she had received ‘expressions of interest from very senior actresses’ to appear in the TV drama because of its strong roles for women.

She added of the secret to the show’s success: “Gradual, persistent change. In some long-running shows there is a pressure to keep characters going on and on with new stories, but that does not replicate life. My mantra is, ‘We are not a soap. We are a medical drama’.”