CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews weekend TV: Call The Midwife delivers
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend’s TV: Call The Midwife delivers with gangsters, grit and nostalgia
Call The Midwife
All Creatures Great And Small
Nobby, Crusher and the boys are just dropping round to wish you Season’s Greetings. Ho ho bleedin’ ho and all that.
Lahvley baubles on that tree of yours, be a shame if anything bad happened to them.
The nuns of Nonnatus House had a brush with friends of the Kray Twins in Call The Midwife (BBC1), after Dr Turner (Stephen McGann) was called out to a bloke with a bad neck . . . the kind of bad neck that can afflict a geezer when other geezers start waving hatchets around. ‘Is it his jugular, Doc?’ worried his gangland godfather, Charlie Page (Jack Myers).
The doctor turned down a new whistle-and-flute, offered as a token of the gang’s gratitude, but a hamper of goodies arrived next day at the surgery.
Writer Heidi Thomas was falling into the familiar trap of treating the brutality and violence of 1960s London as a charming bit of roguishness, as lovable as Michael Caine in a Mini Cooper. Charlie even rustled up cheese on toast for his pregnant wife Anita, on the orders of his dear old mum.
This feature-length episode pulled back from the brink of glorifying the villains, when Anita (Rosie Day) was revealed to be hiding a heroin habit
This feature-length episode pulled back from the brink of glorifying the villains, when Anita (Rosie Day) was revealed to be hiding a heroin habit. Some of the graphic scenes that followed were far from family viewing, but we ought to know by now that Call The Midwife can demand a strong stomach or a hand over both eyes.
Miriam Margolyes, as Mother Mildred, surprised everyone by knowing what to do for a baby suffering from opiate withdrawal — a trick she picked up in Hong Kong.
She also dealt out a pungent remark about Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) and the effect of Brussels sprouts. Mim does insist on bringing a whiff of wind into every role she plays.
What we want from this show is nostalgia and, like an expectant mum with triplets, this special episode delivered. Mother M read A Christmas Carol to enthralled children, Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) clip-clopped coconuts shells at the cubs’ nativity play, Max Bygraves crooned Tulips From Amsterdam from the Dansette and Reggie (Daniel Laurie) helped build a snowman before acting as best man at the Boxing Day wedding.
The nostalgia almost went too far, as Dr Turner used a squirming grey leech to treat Nurse Lucille’s black eye. That’s not Memory Lane, it’s medieval.
But it worked, and Lucille and Cyril (Leonie Elliott and Zephryn Taitte) made a fairytale couple as they cut the cake.
Nearly-weds James and Helen (Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton) kept the nostalgia bubbling in All Creatures Great And Small (C5) as they bundled everyone over for Christmas dinner with Mrs Pumphry and Tricki Woo
Nearly-weds James and Helen (Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton) kept the nostalgia bubbling in All Creatures Great And Small (C5) as they bundled everyone over for Christmas dinner with Mrs Pumphry and Tricki Woo.
Patricia Hodge, who plays the grand Mrs P, summed up the appeal of the show during filming this year: ‘Living in a time of seismic change, as we are now, nostalgia’s a big thing. I think it’s a comfort blanket.’
Of course, there were kisses under the mistletoe and frosts on the moors, as well as a knee-trembler in the pantry with a barmaid for Tristan (Callum Woodhouse).
Much was made of James’s homesickness, with a long-distance call to his parents — crammed into a phone box in Glasgow. It was a touching reminder that many things as well as viruses have always conspired to keep families apart at Christmas.
In the light of that, the sombre touch that closed the episode was unnecessary, with warplanes overhead. We didn’t need a reminder of looming war. This year, everyone has quite enough on their plate already.
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