About six months ago, my dear friend Janet Putnam recommended the BBC series Call The Midwife, explaining that I would love it because it demonstrates really good social work. I must confess that I was rather hesitant and was not sure I would share her interest in the show, given it is about a bunch of nuns. My interest was piqued some because it is also about the beginning of National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. Coincidentally, this past Christmas, my friend Brad sent me the first season of Call the Midwife. It seemed I would have to cave in and watch at least one episode. Wow! My husband and I have officially become addicted to this brilliant series. The story was taken from midwife Jennifer Worth’s memoirs and is based on her experiences working in London’s East End in the late 1950s. It truly is a documentary of the start of NHS and of splendid social work — walking alongside people, being present on their journey and offering help. I love that the real progressive voices often come not from the “modern” nurses; instead the Anglican nuns provide the progressive narrative. The stellar cast work together in such harmony, they compel one to continue watching. A social justice icon, Vanessa Redgrave, narrates our story, as the mature Nurse Jenny Lee. Pam Ferris, from Rosemary and Thyme, is the feisty, stern, yet lovable Sister Evangelina. The amazingly talented and funny Miranda Hart stars as the exceedingly endearing Chummy. Judy Parfitt, many of you will remember from her Oscar worthy performance in Delores Claiborne as Vera Donovan, plays the lovely and absent-minded Sister Monica Joan.
This ensemble cast provide not only a narration of birth, they also give us a didactic story of health care, social work, feminism, and social justice. Each episode is like a gift — a remarkable story that is utterly compelling. I must confess that I cry so much I have to have a tear towel at my side. If you have not had a chance to watch this amazing series, I encourage you to watch at least one episode, for I know you will become addicted to this very sweet and sad story of humanity from birth to death.