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 is back for a ninth series. The TV drama follows the lives of nuns and midwives working in the East End of London during the 1950s and 60s.
The TV drama is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth which chart the life of a newly qualified midwife who works alongside midwives and nuns at a nursing convent, where they face many medical problems and struggles in Poplar, a very deprived area of London. The opening episode of the first series aired on Sunday 15th January 2012 on BBC One and attracted over 10 million viewers. The series of eight episodes each have aired year-on-year, along with an annual Christmas special broadcast every Christmas Day since 2012. It is also broadcast in the United States on the PBS network. Series 10 is currently in production and due to air in 2021. Neal Street Productions is currently commissioned by the BBC for up to Series 11, which is due to air in 2022.
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 led by the calm guidance of Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter). Vanessa Redgrave narrates the series as mature Jennifer Worth.
The more recent series features 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).
Series 9 (aired from 4th January 2020) is set in the year 1965 and across eight episodes we see the midwives dealing with cases involving cancer, diptheria, dementia, fistula and homelessness as well as a changing political agenda that threatens the survival of Nonnatus House.
During all nine 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.
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 9 aired from Sunday 4th January 2020 on BBC One at 8pm. All nine series are available to view on BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map.