‘Call the Midwife’, Christmas Special 2013 (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

After enjoying Series 1 and 2 of ‘Call the Midwife’, I was looking forward to watching Series 3 next. I was getting into the characters featured in the ‘Call the Midwife’ series. The main characters of Nonnatus House in Poplar were very appealing, especially as everyone got on well with each other. 🙂

But before tackling Series 3 of ‘Call the Midwife’, I watched the 2013 Christmas Special. I was looking forward to how Christmas would be celebrated in this ‘Call the Midwife’ special, set at the end of 1958. I also looked forward to see the wedding of Dr. Turner and Shelagh formerly Sister Bernadette.

In the special, the residents of Poplar prepare for Christmas. Festivities seem to be in the air and everyone is looking forward to the special day. The nurses at Nonnatus House are preparing decorations, including the purchases of mistletoe. This I’m sure would’ve been very amusing indeed.

Unfortunately, unrest occurs when an unexploded bomb gets discovered, close to Nonnatus House. Very soon, the streets of Poplar close to that area are forced to evacuate. This is a major blow, especially as everyone has been looking forward to enjoy Christmas time which is to happen soon. 😦

The evacuees are taken to a rescue centre where the midwives of Nonnatus Hosue are tasked with seeing everybody is cared for with their needs. Seeing this special made me reflect on how times in 2020 seem critical and where everybody needs to be closer together than ever before in a situation.

Incidentally, the rescue centre happens to be a working men’s club. It does seem to be cramped, especially as many people are made to go inside to spend a few nights. I don’t know how stressful it would’ve been to spend a few nights in a compact place with other people, but it’s bound to be high.

I liked the story of Laura Main as Shelagh Mannion who is about to get married to Stephen McGann as Dr. Turner. Shelagh has been distancing herself from the sisters at Nonnatus House. She feels that she’s turned her back on them abandoning her spiritual life and be married to handsome Dr. Turner.

But she doesn’t realise how much the sisters of Nonnatus House miss her and want to express how much she’s always welcome to them. Even Jenny Agutter as Sister Julienne shares some nice scenes with Shelagh in the special where she does tell her to come and visit the sisters at Nonnatus House.

Actually, I do wonder why Shelagh didn’t become both a wife to Dr. Turner and become a midwife instead of a nun at Nonnatus House. Maybe that gets addressed in a future episode of the series, but it’s curious that’s not suggested in order to allow her to be closer to the Nonnatus House family.

Meanwhile, Jessica Raine as Jenny Lee finds herself drawn into the lives of a young couple – Victoria Bewick as Yvonne and Sam Swainsbury as Alan. They seem to be a pretty devoted couple and they’re expecting to have their first child. Sadly, Alan suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder in the story. 😦

That came from fighting in the Korean War. Jenny witnesses this and has Helen George as Trixie help her in calming Alan down. Trixie becomes instrumental in helping Alan to overcome his fears. It was fascinating to see Trixie help a troubled man like Alan when she’s usually very gutsy and full of vibe.

But even Trixie has an emotional breakdown from seeing Alan like this. Jenny and Miranda Hart as Chummy help Trixie through her emotional distress and when she’s off on her own, Jenny brings a cup of horlicks to Trixie whilst she smokes away on some stairs. Trixie does smoke a lot in the series.

Incidentally, Trixie’s father had suffered from shell shock from being in a war. So she can empathise why Alan is psychologically damaged. The presence of the unexploded World War II bomb found in Poplar revives that trauma. It was fascinating to hear more backstory about Trixie’s character here. 🙂

Jenny and Trixie try to persuade Sister Julienne to allow Alan to be with his wife Yvonne in order to get over his post-traumatic stress disorder. Sister Julienne and Pam Ferris as Sister Evangelina aren’t keen on the idea. Though I do wonder why they’re not, as a husband could be supportive to his wife.

Thankfully, Jenny and Trixie manage to get Alan and Yvonne back to their house after the bomb incident is over and Alan is there with Yvonne whilst she’s having a baby. I like how Alan is supportive of Yvonne when she has her baby delivered. Hopefully the two can be even closer here. 🙂

Going back to Shelagh, she decided to go for an understated wedding. Meaning she’d be wearing a grey suit instead of a white dress. This isn’t looked upon favourably by Max Macmillan as Timothy, Dr. Turner’s son as well as Sister Julienne. They wish for her to have a superb day on her wedding. 🙂

I do like how Shelagh forms a close relationship with Timothy in the series, especially as she’s about to end up being his step-mother. Timothy meanwhile suffers with a potentially fatal illness. He tries to hide it when his father and Shelagh aren’t looking by taking medical tablets from Dr. Turner’s suitcase.

Oh incidentally, Shelagh asks Dr. Turner if she can stay overnight at his house – possibly on the downstairs settee – whilst everyone is at the rescue centre. I like how this is handled in the special and that it doesn’t present a ‘sex before marriage’ situation. That wouldn’t be in Shelagh’s character.

Eventually, when Shelagh comes home to find Timothy struck down with this potentially fatal illness – I believe it’s polio since someone during a stage rehearsal of a Christmas play becomes sick of it – she does all she can to get him to a hospital. Timothy is paralysed since he can’t move his legs at all here.

It does mean that Dr. Turner and Shelagh’s wedding plans are put on hold when Timothy is fatally ill at hospital. Shelagh runs away and joins the nuns in their singing. Sister Julienne welcomes Shelagh and encourages her not to be downhearted when things seem to be going bad for her in her choices.

Thankfully Dr. Turner isn’t angry with Shelagh once she returns to him as they both stay by Timothy’s bedside in the hopes that he’ll recover. Thankfully he does recover and it seems like the future for Dr. Turner and Shelagh is bright. I like how these emotionally-drive stories in the series get told here.

Sadly, Nonnatus House becomes a victim of the bomb exploding at the site once it goes off. Thankfully no fatalities are found once the bomb is detonated. Everyone can go back home for Christmas whilst the nuns have no convent to go back to. They must pray and sing somewhere else. 😦

I do wonder how the Nonnatus House midwife team will continue in their services to Poplar in the next series. Will they have to find a new Nonnatus House? Will it be a smaller place compared to the old one? Or will the old one get rebuilt and refurbished? I’m curious about what is to happen next. 🙂

I like how the Christmas Special concludes with Dr. Turner and Shelagh eventually getting married and Timothy being the best man. Shelagh is in a proper white dress and Jenny, Trixie, Chummy and Bryony Hannah as Cynthia, I believe, help out in being her bridesmaids whilst the nuns attend too. 🙂

I enjoyed how Chummy is presented as a mother in this special and how Ben Caplan as PC Noakes is a devoted father and husband as well as a policeman, protecting the community of Poplar. Chummy even reinvigorates the boy scouts at the rescue centre. Cliff Parisi as Fred Buckle helps Chummy out.

There are also some scenes featuring Jenny with her new boyfriend Leo Staar as Alec Jesmond. They share a kissing scene inside a red phone box (someone will want to make a phone call in there, you two 😀 ) and Jenny even spends time with Alec in his flat without that landlady knowing about them.

The special also features Raymond Coulthard as Captain Goodarce and Simon Armstrong as Major Fawcett who oversee the unexploded bomb incident. Raymond Coulthard has done a number of Big Finish audio stories of ‘Doctor Who’ over the years, including ‘The Destination Wars’ and ‘Cobwebs’.

The 2013 Christmas Special of ‘Call the Midwife’ has been very good and again features some pretty strong, emotional character drama that I enjoyed. My Dad remarks how there’s a strong Christian message featured throughout these ‘Call the Midwife’ episodes and I agree. It’s so appealing indeed.

I’m currently looking forward to what happens next in Series 3 of ‘Call the Midwife’. How will the Nonnatus House midwife team continue? What will happen to Jenny; what will happen to Chummy and Peter; what will happen to Dr. Turner and Shelagh. I’m keen to find out and I do hope to enjoy it.

‘Christmas Special 2013’ rating – 8/10

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