Call the Midwife Series 1 – 13 (2012 – 2024)

Nurse Phyllis (Linda Bassett), Nurse Lucille (Leonie Elliott), Nurse Trixie (Helen George), Nurse Nancy (Megan Cusack) and Nurse Shelagh (Laura Main) all stand in front of a baby pink background. All five women are wearing their blue midwife uniforms with red cardigans and red hats. Behind them stand two women wear yellow and pink and holding babies.

Nurse Phyllis (Linda Bassett), Nurse Lucille (Leonie Elliott), Nurse Trixie (Helen George), Nurse Nancy (Megan Cusack) and Nurse Shelagh (Laura Main) in Call the Midwife Series 11 © Nealstreet Productions

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, Chatham Riverside

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).

Three characters from call the midwife looking out to sea on a bridge at the Historic Dockyard Chatham with their blue and red midwife uniforms on.

Call The Midwife Nurses ©The Historic Dockyard Chatham

During all thirteen 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.

In Series 13 Episode 1, the midwives cycle along Chatham Riverside, adjacent to the Historic Dockyard, on their way back to Nonnatus House.

An image of an exploded bomb set, a pile of rubble and a sign saying KEEP OFF

Behind the Scenes: Special Effects filming of Call the Midwife (2014) at The Historic Dockyard Chatham © BBC (Click on image for video clip).

The Historic Dockyard Chatham hosts Official Call the Midwife Location tours. For more information see here.

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 aired on BBC One on Christmas Day 2023, with the rest of the series following 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.


Empire of Light (2023)

Micheal Ward and Olivia Colman stand on the roof of a building, looking out to sea. The night sky in front of them is lit up by fireworks and an illuminated town is visible in the distance.

Micheal Ward and Olivia Colman in Empire of Light (2023) © 20th Century Studios

Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, Toby Jones
Production Company:
Neal Street Productions, Searchlight Pictures
Kent Locations Used:
Margate, Dreamland, Arlington House, Broadstairs, Cobtree Manor Park, Manston Airport, The East Kent Railway

Empire of Light (2023) is a dramatic love story centred around a beautiful old cinema on the South Coast of England in the early 1980s.

Written and directed by Academy Award-winning Sam Mendes (1917, Skyfall) and photographed by the legendary Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049, No Country for Old Men), Empire of Light stars Olivia Colman (The Favourite (2019), The Crown (2016-2023)) as Hilary and Micheal Ward (Top Boy (2019-2022), Blue Story) as Stephen, with Colin Firth (Operation Mincemeat (2022), The Mercy (2018)) and Toby Jones (The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2022), Christopher Robin (2018)) in supporting roles.

After seeing the art-deco Dreamland cinema, director Sam Mendes chose Margate as the film’s lead location, the Empire Cinema. A sound stage was erected next door to provide additional cinema interiors facing the beach. The amusement park and roller disco also make an appearance.

Filming took place across Margate from March to May of 2022. Margate Seafront, including the main sands, tidal pool, Nayland Rock Shelter, Marine Terrace and the promenade feature heavily throughout the film as the backdrop for the Empire Cinema.

The area around Fort Paragon, the old Lido, Ethelbert Terrace and Cliff Terrace appear as the streets around Hilary’s flat.

In the town centre, the old Mayor’s Parlour doubles as the interior of a doctor’s office, Arlington House as Stephen’s home and various shops and cafes feature, including Café Darcy as an old chemist, Sands Café, Marina Café and Wildes as themselves.

Image of a vintage cinema with a red velvet curtain covering the screen. On the left and right side of the screen are two red doors. Over the top of each door is a white marble statue of a woman.

Dreamland Cinema in Empire of Light © Searchlight Pictures

Margate Railway Station booking hall also features as itself and the vintage train carriage featured in the film’s closing was filmed on The East Kent Railway.

In Broadstairs, Lillyputt Mini Golf, the promenade and bandstand feature on a day out, and Cobtree Manor Park in Maidstone appears at the very end of the film.

In addition to these locations, additional sets, including Hilary’s and Stephen’s flat interiors and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital were built up in the old aircraft hangers at the former Manston Airport site.

Have a look at what the cast and crew thought of their stay in Margate…

There is also an Empire of Light Film Map you can download at bottom of the webpage.

Margate is a seaside town complete with sandy beach, harbour, amusement park, period housing and ultra-modern art gallery Turner Contemporary. It is one of the most popular filming locations in Kent, having recently featured in True Things (2022), Above the Clouds (2020) and King of Thieves (2018).

Considered to be the oldest surviving amusement park in Great Britain, Dreamland dates back to the early 1870s and was revamped in 2017. The Park has a Retro Roller Room, vintage arcades, a fully restored Grade II listed Art Deco Ballroom and beautiful rides dating from 1920 to the present day. Dreamland is an increasingly popular filming destination, having recently featured in the final series of Killing Eve (2018-2022), Series 2 of Whitstable Pearl (2021-2022) and Two Weeks to Live (2020).

View of Dreamland cinema taken from the beach. An imposing art-deco style building with the word ‘Empire’ written across it in yellow text. Behind it stands a grey brutalist apartment building.

Dreamland as the Empire Cinema © Searchlight Pictures

Arlington House is an 18-storey residential apartment block opposite Margate seafront. It was designed by architects Russell Diplock Associates in 1963 and is a great example of British Brutalist architecture. True Love (2012), Exodus (2007) and Last Resort (2000) feature Arlington House.

Laid out in 1892, the Victoria Gardens include charming features such as a rustic arbour and pergola. The Bandstand is a prominent feature within the gardens, as are the Clock Tower and an Anglo-Indian style shelter. Situated in the traditional seaside town of Broadstairs, the Gardens have also played host to Hurricane (2018).

Now closed to the public, Manston Airport is currently empty and awaiting redevelopment. It boasts a long runway, hangar, large modern warehouse as well as a disused tower and office space. The James Bond film Die Another Day (2002) features scenes shot at Manston Airport.

Cobtree Manor Park stands on the site of the old Maidstone Zoo (still with some buildings intact including Elephant House) and is part of the Cobtree Manor Estate. The park includes over 50 acres of parkland, a play area, café, bridleways for horse riding and a sculpture trail.

The East Kent Railway has a 2.5-mile railway line offering extensive views of the countryside, a 500-yard tunnel, level crossings, sidings and two country stations at Shepherdswell and Eythorne. They offer a variety of train interiors, from 1930s wood panelling, a 1960-1990 railway coach, to the present modern day intercity style coach, as well as a selection of small diesel locomotives. The East Kent Railway was used for a scene in Southcliffe (2013).

Empire of Light will be releasing in UK cinemas on Monday 9th January 2023.

If you would like to visit Empire of Light’s filming locations and take a trip around vintage Margate attractions, please visit Thanet District Council’s Empire of Light trail page.

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map.


The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (2016)

 

(HUGH BONNEVILLE), Margaret (SOPHIE OKONEDO), Richard III (BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH), Cecily (JUDI DENCH), Henry VI (TOM STURRIDGE) staring into the camera with trees behind them

The Hollow Crown: The Wars Of The Roses – Gloucester (HUGH BONNEVILLE), Margaret (SOPHIE OKONEDO), Richard III (BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH), Cecily (JUDI DENCH), Henry VI (TOM STURRIDGE) © BBC/Carnival Film & Television Ltd/Robert Viglasky

Director: Dominic Cooke

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Sturridge, Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons, Keeley Hawes, Sophie Okonedo, John Mackay, Stanley Townsend, Ben Daniels

Production Companies: Neal Street Productions, NBCUniversal, WNET

Kent Locations Used: Leeds Castle, Dover Castle, Penshurst Place

The Hollow Crown returns to BBC Two with a second series, The Wars of the Roses that include adaptations of three more historic plays by Shakespeare – Henry VI Part 1 & 2 and Richard III. The series is part of the BBC’s Shakespeare Season commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes, The Imitation Game) stars as Richard III and Tom Sturridge (The Boat That Rocked, Far from the Madding Crowd) plays Henry VI.

The supporting cast includes a wealth of talented actors, including Judi Dench (Philomena, Skyfall), Jeremy Irons (Eragon, The Lion King), Keeley Hawes (Doctor Who, Upstairs Downstairs), Sophie Okonedo (Doctor Who, Criminal Justice), John Mackay (Doc Martin, Casualty), Stanley Townsend (Cars, Ripper Street) and Ben Daniels (Locke, Madaline).

The first series aired in 2012 and featured Richard II, Henry IV, Part I and 2 and Henry V. The latter of which was also partly filmed in Kent; at Penshurst Place and Squerryes Court.

The Hollow Crown The Wars of the Roses (2016) Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard II fighting in battle on a field

The Hollow Crown The Wars Of The Roses © BBC/Carnival Film & Television Ltd/Robert Viglasky

The second series of The Hollow Crown filmed in Kent where Leeds Castle‘s Barbican and moat to depict scenes at the Tower of London, Penshurst Place doubled as the exterior of the Palace of Westminster’s Great Gates and Dover Castle features as The Tower of London as well as Anjou’s Palace and Joan’s Chambers in Rouen in Part 1 and a French Prison and St Alban’s Chapel and Market Place in Part 2.

Rich in history, Leeds Castle is set in 500 acres of beautiful parkland and formal gardens. The castle has opened its doors to a number of film productions over the years including Gadget Man (2014), Henry VIII (2003) and Lady Jane (1987).

Dover Castle is one of the most iconic of all the English fortresses, guarding the gateway to the realm for nine centuries. With its beautiful medieval interior, secret wartime tunnels and set overlooking the English Channel, Dover Castle is a popular film location having previously welcomed productions such as Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Into the Woods (2015) and To Kill a King (2003).

Penshurst Place is a 14th Century Manor House with preserved interiors, including the unique medieval Baron’s Hall as well as 11 acres of Elizabethan walled gardens. Wolf Hall (2015), Merlin (2008) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) have previously filmed at Penshurst Place.

The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses also features in the Kent Film Office Tudor(ish) Trail which celebrates Kent’s Tudor history and film connections.

Don’t miss The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses:

Henry VI part 1 will air on Saturday 7th May 2016 on BBC Two at 21:00.

Henry VI part 2 will air on Saturday 14th May 2016  on BBC Two at 21:00.

Richard III will air on Saturday 14th May 2016  on BBC Two at 21:00.

 

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map.