‘Call the Midwife’, Christmas Special 2012 (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Welcome to the first Christmas Special of ‘Call the Midwife’, shown in December 2012. At the time of this review, I’ve seen the first ‘Call the Midwife’ Christmas Special over Easter 2020. I know that’s wrong timing to watch and review it, but Christmas should be at every time of the year, shouldn’t it? 😀

The ‘Call the Midwife’ Christmas Special has become a tradition on BBC TV in recent years. A person’s Christmas wouldn’t be complete without seeing ‘Call the Midwife’ on Christmas Day. My parents and I do enjoy the Christmas Specials that gets shown on TV every Christmas in recent years.

So, it’s good to see what the first ‘Call the Midwife’ Christmas Special is like and how it procured a long line of Christmas Specials for people to love and enjoy. The first Christmas Special of course takes place in December 1957. Each season of the TV show would be yearly from the 1950s into the 1960s.

By the way, there is a pattern with ‘Call the Midwife’ Christmas Specials compared to standard season episodes. In a season, each episode last about 60 minutes or so in length. In a Christmas Special, they last about 90 minutes or so in length, which could qualify as a Christmas TV movie here.

In the first Christmas Special, it opens with the kids of Poplar watching a TV set in a TV store. My Dad told me how small those TV sets were in the 1950s as he recalls them pretty well. Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan is happily excited to see a TV set showing a puppet show that must be popular. 🙂

Meanwhile, the midwives of Nonnatus House are busier than ever within Poplar. We see Jessica Raine as Jenny Lee and Pam Ferris as Sister Evangelina helping to deliver a baby in a toilet. I found it bizarre that people waiting outside to go to the toilet are watching the baby’s birth take place in this.

After they’ve finished delivering the baby, Jenny is approached by a ragged old woman asking for the child’s welfare. This old woman happens to be Sheila Reid as Mrs. Jenkins. I’ve seen Sheila Reid in ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ episodes and in a ‘Monarch of the Glen’ episode.

Jenny learns from the nuns that Mrs. Jenkins lives in terrible poverty. She refuses help however. Mrs. Jenkins seems to be in want of a child, especially when she entertains a baby in a pram outside in the snow. Jenny gets caught up in a heartbreaking mystery that surrounds the semi-vagrant old woman.

Jenny and Sister Evangelina soon get through to Mrs. Jenkins as they help to improve her life. It’s problematic at first especially when Mrs. Jenkins screams an unearthly scream in her house. She also hits people like Jenny and even punches Sister Evangelina in the face. Ooh! That must’ve hurt there.

Mind you, Sister Evangelina isn’t one to give up. Even after she criticises Jenny’s feeble attempts to get through to Mrs. Jenkins at first, she’s still resilient in trying to help Mrs. Jenkins. Jenny and Sister Evangelina are pretty shocked to see the state Mrs. Jenkins is in as they help improve her conditions.

They get her new clothes as well as bathing her in a bath. It’s incredible how people like that in the late 1950s in poverty conditions could be so wretched and unprovided for. It’s also amazing how Jenny and Sister Evangelina are determined not to give up on Mrs. Jenkins, despite her refusing help.

Thankfully Mrs. Jenkins is an improved woman. Jenny soon learns about the misfortune Mrs. Jenkins had when she used to work in the workhouse years ago. Jenny checks up the records of Mrs. Jenkins and assists her to reunite with those who have been in the workhouse that have now been buried. 🙂

Jenny helps Mrs. Jenkins in this regard because she is puzzled by being mistake for someone called Rosie. Jenny uncovers this tragic set of events in the old lady’s life before closure can be achieved. It’s a sweet subplot featured throughout the episode and it does demonstrate Jenny’s caring nature.

While that happens, an abandoned baby gets found on the steps of the Nonnatus convent by Bryony Hannah as Nurse Cynthia. She and Helen George as Nurse Trixie help to make the baby comfortable and the Nonnatus family name him Raymond. But where did the baby come from all out of the blue?

Well, the baby happens to belong to Ami Metcalf as Lynette Duncan. She was heavily pregnant but hid it well from everyone else, including her mother and father. She soon gave birth in an abandoned house all by herself. I’m amazed she managed to do that all by herself with no midwives.

She even cut the umbilical cord by herself with string and such. Lynette learnt how to do that by looking up in a baby’s birth manual or something earlier on in the story. Unfortunately, Lynette left the baby at the convent door as she couldn’t reveal she had a baby to her parents in this instance. 😐

The whole community rallies round to provide food and clothing for the abandoned baby whilst also trying to find its mother. Lynette meanwhile gets hired to take part in the local nativity play, since she’s an intelligent school leaver. She gets hired by Miranda Hart as Chummy (more about this later).

Unfortunately, during a rehearsal, Lynette faints and Chummy finds out what happened to her and that she’s the mother of the abandoned baby. Chummy is the one who unites the mother Lizzie Hopley as Mrs. Ivy Duncan and David Kennedy as Mr. Kennedy in order to help their daughter in this.

By the way, Lizzie Hopley’s name rang a bell for me as she’s done some Big Finish audio productions including the ‘Doctor Who’ audio ‘Terror Firma’ and the ‘I, Davros’ series. It was interesting to see Lynette’s parents’ reaction to her having a baby as they are resentful at first before they soon support her.

Chummy’s character gets to shine in this Christmas Special. She’s recently married and plans to mount a truly memorable children’s nativity play. Miranda Hart’s acting talents in drama are well-done compared to her comedy talents. Her character of Chummy is pretty believable in the TV show.

When she hears news that the mayor of Poplar is coming to watch the nativity play, she goes into a panic about it. Things don’t help much when a water pipe bursts and the nativity plan costumes get destroyed. Thankfully the locals rally around to help Chummy here and ensure the show goes ahead.

It was also interesting to see Chummy and Ben Caplan as PC Peter Noakes in their new married lives together and even share a bed with each other. Noakes supports Chummy when she’s feeling downhearted about the nativity play, reassuring her that all will go well no matter what the mishaps.

Chummy also has challenges in trying to pipe the kids down as they’re performing in the nativity play. Some of them can be a little rebellious and naughty and she has to pipe them down by speaking loudly or using a whistle. One of the nativity performers happens to be Max Macmillan as Timothy. 🙂

He’s the son of Stephen McGann as Dr. Turner. Stephen McGann gets her own episode credit for the first Christmas Special of ‘Call the Midwife’. It was interesting to hear Dr. Turner’s backstory in the episode where he’s seen to be quite overworked and is a widower, having lost his wife some time ago.

There’s a nice scene between Dr. Turner and Laura Main as Sister Bernadette in the special. They’re talking about Timothy and how Dr. Turner will spend time with his son during this Christmas time. I wonder if there’ll be a connection between Dr. Turner and Sister Bernadette in the series very soon.

The other cast members featured in this Christmas Special include Jenny Agutter as Sister Julienne and Cliff Parisi as Fred. I like how the episode concludes with the nativity play being performed and everyone gathered to celebrate Christmas in 1957. It’s reassuring with a positive Christmas message.

In watching these Christmas Specials of ‘Call the Midwife’, I’m amazed to see how much snow has fallen in Poplar. It doesn’t match to how Christmas is nowadays where snow comes at different times of the year and not at Christmas. I wonder how lovely white Christmases must’ve been back then. 🙂

The first ‘Call the Midwife’ Christmas Special is very good and it’s no surprise that it’s become a tradition every year for people to see at Christmas time in December. The character drama is well-handled, especially in terms of the main cast being caring and supportive for those who are in need.

The ‘Call the Midwife’ series is very good in depicting how history looked in the 1950s as well as 1960s with its period drama and performances of cast members exceeding well. ‘Call the Midwife’, even in the darkest of scenarios, can be reassuring and uplifting for the many people who watch it. 🙂

‘Christmas Special 2012’ rating – 8/10

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