Writer: Heidi Thomas
Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Raine, Pam Ferris, Miranda Hart, Helen George, Jenny Agutter, Laura Main, Judy Parfitt, Stephen McGann, Cliff Parisi, Ben Caplan, Jennifer Kirby, Leonie Elliot, Linda Bassett, Annabelle Apsion
Production Company: Neal Street Productions for BBC
Kent Locations Used: The Historic Dockyard Chatham
Much-loved BBC period drama Call the Midwife (2012-2024) is back for its annual Christmas Special, which will kick off the thirteenth series. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the TV drama follows the lives of nuns and midwives working in the East End of London during the 1950s and 60s.
Set in December 1968, the Series 13 Christmas Special will air on Monday 25th December 2023. With the Apollo 8 moon mission about to launch, Sister Monica Joan fears she won’t live to see man walk on the moon, Shelagh and Dr Turner receive an unexpected parcel, and Nancy and Colette receive a generous offer which could change their lives.
Series 13 will follow from Sunday 7th January 2024. As 1969 unfolds, the Nonnatus House team are under ever-increasing pressure due to poor housing, social and health challenges. The new series will explore stories from within the Sylheti and Nigerian communities as well as issues surrounding Cerebral Palsy, Congenital Hip Dysplasia, Tetanus, Porphyria and TB.
Series 1 Episode 1 of Call the Midwife aired for the first time on Sunday 15th January 2012 on BBC One and attracted over 10 million viewers. A new series has aired every year since, along with an annual Christmas Special broadcast every Christmas Day since 2012.
The early series featured actress Jessica Raine as the main protagonist Nurse Jenny Lee, with leading supporting cast Helen George as Nurse Trixie Franklin, Pam Ferris as Sister Evangelina, Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan and Miranda Hart playing Chummy Browne, all led by the calm guidance of Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter). Vanessa Redgrave narrates the series as mature Jennifer Worth.
The more recent series feature now familiar faces Nurse Valerie Dyer (Jennifer Kirby), Nurse Lucille Anderson (Leonie Elliott), Nurse Phyllis Crane (Linda Bassett) and Nurse Trixie Franklin (Helen George) . Supporting cast includes long standing characters Doctor Turner (Stephen McGann) and his wife Shelagh Turner (Laura Main), Fred Buckle (Cliff Parisi) and Violet Buckle (Annabelle Apsion). Following her absence from Series 10, the much-loved Mother Mildred (Miriam Margolyes) will make a comeback in the Series 11 Christmas special.
During all twelve seasons Call the Midwife has made use of the settings of The Historic Dockyard Chatham to stand in for the Victorian buildings of Poplar in East London. The Fitted Rigging House doubles for the Lisbon Buildings and Rakesby Street Homeless Shelter. Meanwhile, Admiral’s Offices exteriors feature as Poplar Maternity Home and the London Hospital. The Tarred Yarn Store has made regular appearances as a Boxing Ring, Chinese Laundry and derelict building. HMS Cavalier, a WW2 destroyer ship and The National Destroyer Memorial, has also featured playing the role of a Russian ship. The Commissioner’s House gardens set the scene for a famous engagement scene in one episode, while Anchor’s Wharf and the Dockyard Railway and steam train have regularly appeared for Poplar Docks scenes. The Victorian Ropery even appears in one episode as a working ropemakers as well as various cellars and tunnels around the building. In Episode 1 of Series 11, the Sail and Colour Loft appears as the building site where human bones are found. The Royal Dockyard Church also appears in the same episode as the graveyard that Nurse Trixie and Matthew (Olly Rix) visit.
The Historic Dockyard Chatham was established in the mid-16th century and is located on the River Medway. A location with an extensive history, evident through its numerous buildings and exhibitions open to the public. Today Chatham is the only one of the original four Royal Navy Ropeyards to remain in operation and, together with its related buildings, forms the finest integrated group of 18th century manufacturing buildings in Britain. The site offers maritime, industrial, Georgian and Victorian architecture and cobbled streets, an ideal set for many film productions. Recent period dramas to film at the Dockyard include Belgravia (2020), World On Fire Series 1 (2019) and Pennyworth Series 1 (2019) to name but a few.
Call the Midwife Series 13 Christmas Special will air on BBC One on Christmas Day 2023, with the rest of the series to commence from Sunday 7th January 2024.
All 11 series are available to view on BBC iPlayer or purchase on Amazon Prime.
For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map.