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Call the Midwife (Season 10)

PBS, October 3, 2021

Oct 03, 2021 Photography by Nealstreet Productions Web Exclusive
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With Call the Midwife embarking on its landmark 10th season, clearly no one’s getting tired of graphically real-looking births and shivering fresh and gooey babies in London’s East End now 20 years post-WWII. The British series, which revolves around midwife nurses and nuns, is a unique procedural. Its focus is very specific, yet somehow, within its narrow view, it traverses a wide range of topics. These are guided by a delightful cast and character-filled guests.

The year is 1966 and Nonnatus House, the nursing convent at the center of Call the Midwife, is stretching afield. The Lady Emily Clinic, a private facility has reached out to Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) to bring in the cache of her order to care for their patients. While Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) finds this a distasteful move, Sister Julienne is far too pragmatic to turn down the cash this service will bring to Nonnatus House, and by extension, how it will allow them to continue to help the economically disadvantaged families in their local area, Poplar.

She sends Trixie (Helen George), who is pronounced, “Punctual as you are ornamental,” by The Lady Emily’s doctor, to reconnoiter. Trixie, clad in a fetish-y and form-fitting pink nurse’s uniform with black hose, is all a-flutter at this assignment as, “Their garden parties are in Tatler!” Instead she’s shocked and disappointed at the clinic’s archaic attitudes and approaches and sets about to change their ways. In reliable and upbeat, everything-will-come-out-positive Call the Midwife fashion, she is able to make this happen with her very first birth, with the blessing of the doctor. Unrealistic but nonetheless feelgood.

Trixie being Trixie, continues to heatedly question the workings of The Lady Emily. Her indignation extends to how wealthy women can receive safe and hygienic abortions while those who don’t have the means risk their lives “On a table above a pub!” She’s just so very likeable, no matter what she’s doing.

The nuns are getting some form-fitting fashion of their own as they update their habits for some flashy blue mini versions that would not be out of place on Carnaby Street. This is to the distress of Sister Frances whose dislike of showing her knees is, “One of the reasons I became a nun.”

Sister Frances pushes herself out of her comfort zone with the help of some pop culture magazines in order to modernize her outlook so she can better relate to her patients. She is at her best when she’s doing what she knows is right in her heart. She’s especially zany when she says to a belligerent patient who asks for her superior, “I’m superior enough to deal with this.”

There are sobering storylines that revolve around thalidomide stillborn babies with no legs and the biological side effects for soldiers who served near nuclear test explosions.

Still, there is a persistent glow of good will. This is in part due to the favorite couple of the series, Nurse Lucille Anderson and Revered Cyril Robinson, who are still twinkling at each other, bring a tangible warmth in every scene that are in. Hearing Cyril tell Fred Buckle (one half of the other favorite couple with Violet Buckle), “Me, I’m still working my way,” makes your insides bloom.

Four new trainees at Nonnatus House bring some spunky personalities to the mix as well as some Swinging ‘60s style. Their learning curves and twists put some kinks into the experienced midwives’ rounds, turning off some expectant mothers and winning over others. The fun and wacky pupil midwife Nancy (Megan Cusack) is the most leftfield of these newbies, which makes her the most entertaining and her actions and utterances the most unexpected.

The themes of women’s rights and sociological progress are strong throughout this season. Contraception, that was so controversial in earlier seasons is becoming commonplace. Abortions are being discussed in Parliament. Homosexuality is not legal yet, but it is not as deeply hidden, and conversion therapy is already happening, but at least the medical staff are supportive and understanding of those so inclined—almost unrealistically so. New diseases are being discovered, as are new hairstyles and fabric patterns. Call the Midwife stays in step with its times. Only seven episodes this season is simply not enough, but there is a special coming on November 21, 2021. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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