New BBC1 drama Call the Midwife provides ‘insight into long vanished world’ of 1950’s Poplar

An intimate insight into the colourful world of midwifery and family life in the 1950’s East End is coming to the small screen.

Call the Midwife is a new six-part drama and stars Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris and Mirana Hart and follows the story of young nurse Jenny Lee, played by newcomer Jessica Raine, as she arrives in Poplar in 1957 to live and work as a midwife alongside an order of nuns who help deliver between 80 and 100 babies each month.

The series is based on author Jennifer Worth’s experiences and was adapted from her books with her guidance ofuntil she passed away shortly before filming began last summer.

Executive Producer Pippa Harris said: “I loved the fact that Jennifer’s writing gives you an insight into a recent, yet long vanished world.

“Although she was only writing about the late 50s, this post-war period in the East End was extremely tough. Surrounded by bomb damage, and sometimes living in slum conditions, women gave birth to baby after baby often with no running water, clean bed linen or pain relief.”

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The series is directed by Jamie Payne and Philippa Lowthorpe who said she fell in love with the stories and called the midwives and nuns the series in based on unsung heroines.

She added: “The work they did in the East End was amazing and no one has ever celebrated that before.

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“But the women themselves were completely down to earth, very funny, and very human, sometimes bad tempered and fed up, sometimes making mistakes - just so real. I love the fact that the nuns weren’t at all saintly.”

Her co-director added: “I sincerely hope that I have captured even an ounce of the incredible heart and courage of the nuns, midwives and the people whose lives they became such a big part of. The inhabitants of Poplar in 1957 had very little but hope and humour dominated their lives.”

Call the Midwife is on BBC1 at 8pm on Sunday

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