*PBS series “Call the Midwife” dipped back into familiar territory with this week’s episode.
The BBC drama is about midwives working out of a nursing convent in London’s impoverished East End during the 1950s. Race relations in London during the time period weren’t any better than in the States, so you can imagine the reaction of a white expectant father to his wife if she – without warning – gave birth to a black baby.
This has happened twice in the series so far – in episode three of season one, which saw the shocked dad accept the baby (and his wife’s infidelity); and in Sunday’s second episode of the current third season, where things didn’t go so smoothly.
Going back to this particular interracial well may indicate that pregnancies from secret dalliances with black men in 1950s East London happened more often than not. After all, the show is based on a trilogy of best selling memoirs written by British nurse Jennifer Worth about her days working as a midwife in the same poverty-stricken area, during the same time period.
“We have always, from the word ‘go,’ blended [Worth’s] precious original material with stuff which is original. And we do our own research,” co-executive producer and writer Heidi Thomas explained at the Summer 2013 TCA press tour. “We’re using stories which are true from that period but combining them with Jennifer’s work. … Some of the stories are very, very sad, and it makes me cry to read the stories and cry again when I’m writing the script.”
In Sunday’s episode (watch below), the pregnant woman reluctantly admits to Nurse Jenny that she’s carrying a black child, and has hatched a scheme to make sure her hot-tempered husband never finds out. The plan is to travel out of town, have the child, give it up for adoption, then return home and tell her husband that she went into labor while away and lost the baby.
Mother nature, however, laughed at that plan – as it caused her water to break a day early. Not only was the baby delivered in her own flat, but hubby came home before the adoption folk could swoop in and ferret the child away. The situation got volatile and Nurse Jenny found herself shielding the newborn in a corner while the husband went into a rampage.
Below, Jessica Raine talks about tapping into the books for storylines.
“Call the Midwife” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on PBS. Below watch the episode discussed above in its entirety.