‘Call the Midwife’, Series 1, Episode 1 (TV)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

‘Call the Midwife’ is a period drama BBC TV series, based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth. It was created by Heidi Thomas and it’s about nurse midwives who help the poor people of East End London.

The series starts in 1957 before going into the 1960s. At the time of this review, the series has lasted for nine seasons. My parents have got into ‘Call the Midwife’ as a show on DVD before seeing it on TV.

I’ve been able to get into it lately with Series 8 and 9 as well as three Christmas Specials from 2017 to 2020. It’s nice to go back to the beginning of ‘Call the Midwife’ and check out how the series all began.

Series 1 of ‘Call the Midwife’ was transmitted on BBC TV from January to February 2012. I did see the first episode of Series 1 of ‘Call the Midwife’ on DVD with my parents; but I hadn’t take it seriously then.

Now that I am watching Series 1 properly, I’ve been able to pick out certain familiar elements that would occur later in the series. This is especially with certain characters I knew already as they’d appear later.

In the first episode of Series 1, ‘Call the Midwife’ focuses on the viewpoint of newly-qualified but naïve midwife Jenny Lee, played by Jessica Raine. It was nice to see the series from Jenny’s point of view. 🙂

I’ve seen Jessica Raine in two ‘Doctor Who’-related TV productions. They include ‘Hide’ with Matt Smith and the special docu-drama ‘An Adventure In Space and Time’ where she played Verity Lambert.

Jenny comes to Nonnatus House where she works with an order of nursing nuns as well as midwife nurses to help the poor women of Poplar expecting babies. Jenny expected to work in a small hospital.

The order of nursing nuns are as follows. They’re led by Jenny Agutter as Sister Julienne. There’s also Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan and Pam Ferris as Sister Evangelina. Jenny is generally welcomed. 🙂

There’s also Laura Main as Sister Bernadette at the order of nursing nuns. The two other midwife nurses that Jenny meets here are Helen George as Trixie Franklin and Bryony Hannah as Cynthia Miller.

I liked it where Jenny’s with the nursing nuns and midwife nurses as they have tea after a working day. Some characters are clear like Sister Monica being eccentric and Sister Evangelina being no-nonsense.

Jenny is quite unprepared for what’s in Poplar since she didn’t realise the conditions in some of the homes are pretty terrible. Jenny is exposed to the harsh poverty of 1950s East London. It is quite grim.

In the episode, Jenny helps out with certain cases. This includes helping no-nonsense Sister Evagelina with an expectant mother who has her baby, but has her home drowned in soot from the chimney. 😀

Jenny also helps out Carolina Valdés as Conchita Warren, a Spanish former child bride who can’t speak English and gives birth for the twenty-fourth time. No seriously, she has twenty-three kids at home. 🙂

The episode also features Hayley Squires as Maureen Warren, the daughter and Tim Faraday as Len Warren, the father and husband. Maureen speaks Spanish to her mum and translates it to English for Jenny.

Len doesn’t speak any Spanish but still loves his wife as there’s a psychic connection between them. Jenny is so astonished and appalled by how the Warren family can live in bad conditions and be happy.

She shares her concerns about the way people live in poverty to Sister Julienne as well as to Trixie. Sister Julienne tells Jenny that the nurses are here to help and Trixie regards the mothers as ‘heroines’.

This episode also introduces Cliff Parisi as Fred Buckle, who would become an integral part of the ‘Call the Midwife’ series. There’s also Stephen McGann as Dr. Turner who’s introduced briefly in the series.

Jenny also attends to Lacey Bond as Mrs. Hawkes, a woman who’s a bit of a misery guts and rather foul in manner and apparel. She does often towards the end, especially with regards for her own baby.

The episode has Jenny come out pretty strong especially when she’s thrown in at the deep end to help deliver the baby of Conchita Warren when she has concussion. Jenny does receive praise for her success.

The first episode of ‘Call the Midwife’ is very good in setting up the characters and the world of Poplar in East End London, 1957. This is especially through the eyes of Jenny Lee, who’s quite young and naïve.

‘Series 1, Episode 1’ rating – 8/10

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