Good call

call the midwife
Review by BOB FASER

TELEVISION | CALL THE MIDWIFE | ABC 1

THE fifth season of Call the Midwife confronts a range of significant social issues with the same honesty and commitment as earlier seasons.

Set in the early 1960s, issues of the day such as the relationship of thalidomide use and birth defects are strongly in evidence, as is a storyline on the growing concern over the health impact of smoking.

The developing same-gender relationship of two of the nurses is blossoming, but is treated by the two nurses involved as something clandestine, which would have been expected in the 1960s.

As with other series of CTM, there is a wedding and a funeral providing the emotional ‘heart’ of the series. (I won’t provide spoilers as to whose wedding or whose funeral they are.)

As a clergy-type myself, I’m personally impressed by the way the vicar and the community of nuns are portrayed.

Jack Ashton’s Tom Hereward is rapidly becoming one of my favourite TV clerics. He’s without caricature, unlike some TV clerics such as:

• the impossible perfection of Mark Williams’ Father Brown or the late William Christopher’s Father Mulcahy,
• the overwhelming self-confidence of Dawn French’s Geraldine Grainger,
• the “Moe, Larry, and Curly”-ness of the inhabitants of the Craggy Island Parochial House.

Tom Hereward is utterly decent, utterly flawed, and always utterly human.

The real heroes of CTM are the members of the small community of Anglican nuns who make up the Sisters of St Raymond Nonnatus.

Trained nurse-midwives as well as nuns, they work in the most trying conditions. In contrast to our culture’s stereotype of people of faith, they show a great acceptance of human weakness and human foibles. They are always there for the families they serve, the young nurse-midwives they support, and for each other.

As a positive (yet rarely “preachy”) portrayal of people of faith, Call the Midwife is always a pleasure.

Currently screening on ABC-TV, Saturday evenings, and available on DVD and Netflix.

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