‘Call the Midwife’, Christmas Special 2014 (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

It’s time for the third Christmas Special featured in the ‘Call the Midwife’ series. It’s also the first Christmas Special to not feature Jessica Raine as Jenny since she left in Series 3. It’s surreal to think of the rest of the series not featuring Jenny any more as ‘Call the Midwife’ is based on her memoirs.

Well actually, Jenny does sort-of appear in this Christmas Special, but that’s when she’s older and living in ‘2005’ (more on that shortly) with her husband Philip Bond. This is where we see Vanessa Redgrave as Jennifer Worth making an actual appearance in the series as well as being the narrator.

Interesting how they begin the special with an older Jenny living with her husband Philip Bond, who’s played by Ronald Pickup here. Ronald Pickup voiced Aslan in the BBC’s ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ and he’s been in ‘Danny the Champion of the World’ as well as some ‘Doctor Who’ Big Finish audios.

In the opening and closing scenes set in ‘2005’, Jennifer Worth and her husband Philip prepare for Christmas at home. Jenny reminisces about the friends and colleagues she had in her youth when she was working in Nonnatus House. This is before we cut back to the events of Christmas in 1959. 🙂

Going back to talking about the ‘2005’ setting, I needed to clarify on whether that was correct in setting the special after Jenny’s time with Nonnatus House in ‘Call the Midwife’. You see, at the end of the special, Philip asks Jenny if she’ll consider writing her memoirs. Once asked this, she says ‘yes’.

But there’s a problem. Jenny should’ve written her memoirs already by then. You see; the first two volumes of Jenny’s memoirs ‘Call the Midwife’ and ‘Shadows of the Workhouse’ were published in 2002 and 2005. The special should’ve been set in 2000 instead. 😐 WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!!!!!

Anyway, in the 1959 portion of the special, the nurses prepare for their 1959 Christmas show – which happens to be the Sunday School Christmas concert, I believe. Rehearsals are underway and even Cliff Parisi as Fred Buckle dresses up as Santa Claus again. He must be very good as Santa Claus.

Helen George as Trixie even helps to set work on designing a Father Christmas outfit for Fred to wear. Wow! I didn’t know Trixie had it in her. Making Father Christmas outfits! 😀 Miranda Hart as Chummy also tries to choreograph the dancing snowflakes played by the children. This has setbacks.

Very soon, Chummy and Emerald Fennell as Patsy Mount escort two pregnant teenagers to a home for expectant mothers. These teens are Louisa Connolly-Burnham as confident Avril Fox and Lea Jackson as nervous Denise Henshall. Apparently these are mothers who aren’t married to anyone. 😐

It was fascinating to learn about there being homes provided for expectant mothers who are meant to deliver their babies and give them over to some strangers who will adopt them. It is actually a rather grim situation, especially at Christmas time, when mothers are forced to give their babies up.

It doesn’t help matters when the mother/baby home is poorly managed by Ruth Sheen as the unfeeling and drunken Sister Maltby. Maltby expects high stands of cleanliness for the residents of the home, but she doesn’t even provide proper power and lighting for the mothers that live there. 😦

Very soon, Denise falls ill with chicken pox, I believe. There’s also a mother who has her baby taken away from her without having the chance to say goodbye. Sister Maltby is unfeeling in both regards. Avril reports Maltby to Nonnatus House when she denies medical treatment to Denise at the home.

At that, Chummy and Patsy come over to temporarily run the home. Stephen McGann as Dr. Turner also turns up. By that point, Sister Maltby’s gone. I wonder what would’ve happened if Sister Maltby actually stayed at the home, defending her actions once Dr. Turner, Chummy and Patsy turned up. 😐

Huge improvements are made for the better at the mother/baby home. Avril even gets to help out too and very soon on Christmas Eve, the residents of the mother/baby home are happy and joyous. It is then that Avril is about to have her baby, receiving help from Chummy and Patsy as midwives. 🙂

It’s intriguing how Avril reacts once she has the baby delivered. Knowing she won’t have the baby forever once it’s been delivered, she at first tries to reject it. But Chummy encourages Avril to tend to the baby in its hour of need. Very soon, Avril warms to the baby and she gets to hold it for a while.

Denise’s mother, Lucy Black as Mrs. Henshall, who’ve been rather disapproving of her daughter’s actions, also grows to warm loving her baby once she has it. It’s left open-ended about whether Avril or Denise are allowed to keep the babies or not, thanks to Chummy and Patsy’s work at the home. 🙂

Laura Main as Shelagh meanwhile attends to the aid of a down-trodden epileptic, Daniel Cerqueira as Victor. He has a fit in the market – which leads to the discovery that he and his girlfriend Nancy are living in squalor. Nancy also believes she’s pregnant and is afraid her baby will be taken from her.

Incidentally, Kacey Ainsworth plays Nancy in this Christmas Special. She’s well-known for playing Cathy Keating, Geordie’s wife in the ‘Grantchester’ series. It took me a while to recognise her whilst watching the episode, but I could see it was her when watching her in her dishevelled make-up here.

The relationship between Nancy and Victor is rather sweet since they met in a mental hospital, though they were released with no after-care. Dr. Turner and Bryony Hannah as Cynthia come to realise that due to operations carried out on Nancy in a hospital, she can’t conceive and have a baby.

Nancy is distressed once she hears the news, running out in the streets. Victor is there for her when she becomes distressed and very soon, the couple are encouraged to be strong and to care for each other. I like how Victor and Nancy are there in Nonnatus House for the Christmas Day celebrations. 🙂

This special also features a significant change for Cynthia’s character. You see, by the end of the special, she makes a life-changing decision. She becomes a sister by the end – like Jenny Agutter as Sister Julienne, Pam Ferris as Sister Evangelina and Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Jona. It’s a surprise!

I didn’t expect Cynthia to make that decision by the end of the special. It’s something that she’s been considering for quite some time and she even asks Sister Julienne to pray for her on the matter. I guess because she has not found a lover in life, it’s what prompts her to make the decision.

It’s an intriguing role reversal in the series, since Shelagh, who was once Sister Bernadette, decided to become a housewife instead of a nun. Whereas for Cynthia, she becomes a nun instead of a midwife! It is a decision that greatly shocks Trixie and Patsy once they hear the news from Cynthia. 😐

I imagine that Trixie and Patsy don’t want to lose the camaraderie and friendship that they had with Cynthia when she was a midwife. They’re also afraid they’ll never see Cynthia again. But Cynthia reassures that they will meet each other again once she dons the sister’s habit she wears at the end.

Ben Caplan as Peter Noakes also goes through the stages of passing his examination to get promoted to police sergeant. It’s a struggle for him when he has to study and he gets help from Chummy. Sadly, Chummy is unable to help Peter on his final night as she’s stranded at the mother/child home.

This is due to the heavy snowfall that’s caused in Poplar. Chummy and Peter’s baby also suffers a severe cough infection which turns out to be croup. Thankfully, Peter takes his baby boy to be seen to by the nurses at Nonnatus House. Thankfully, Sister Monica Joan identifies the condition as croup.

It’s good that Sister Monica answered the door to Peter’s call for help with the baby and that she identifies it as croup in an instant. It’s also good that Sister Evangelina reassures Peter that things will be alright when the nurses promise to look after his baby whilst he goes off for his examination.

Thankfully, Peter passes his exam and he gets promoted to sergeant. He also reunites with Chummy once the snow blizzard has passed. The special concludes with everyone happy at the concert as well as at Nonnatus House until Christmas is over. Cynthia gets inaugurated to be a nun in the New Year.

The 2014 Christmas Special of ‘Call the Midwife’ has been good to watch. It was fascinating to see what the mother/child home was like with Chummy and Patsy taking over. It was also a surprise to find Cynthia becoming a nun by the end. Who knows will occur for the ‘Call the Midwife’ team next.

‘Christmas Special 2014’ rating – 8/10

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