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My name is Stephen McGann
and I play Dr Patrick Turner in Call The Midwife.
And you catch us at a really strange time of year.
It's the final day of filming
and it's all a bit like the circus is leaving town.
You've got all the props men taking odd bits and pieces away.
It's also a great time for reflection.
I absolutely love this job.
One of the things I really love about it is,
although the stories that we tell are fictional, at their core,
they're based upon the lives and experiences of real people.
So, as we finish filming the latest series of Call The Midwife,
I am starting my own personal journey to find out more
about the stories behind this amazing show.
It's a real privilege, I think, to bring new life into the world.
This is absolutely lovely.
-It's like a photograph of history.
I'm going to meet the real people
behind some of the most moving stories we've told.
One of the nurses just sort of took me to her.
When she did sort of unwrap everything,
I don't know if she was even aware that she'd looked at my limbs.
She just looked at my face and said,
"She's beautiful, she's mine, and always will be."
And we'll take a sneak preview of some of the dramatic stories
you'll soon see in the new series.
-That's quite sufficient,
thank you, Abdul.
We'll find out how the series came to be written...
Midwives are present at almost every single birth in this country,
and yet, the story had never been told.
..and we'll be hearing from the writer and executive producer,
Every birth is a story that's waiting to unfold,
and the midwife is there to write the beginning,
the middle and the end of that story in her own very particular way.
So when I got the chance to go
and actually meet some of these people, I jumped at it.
I wanted to find out the real stories behind Call The Midwife.
Call The Midwife was originally based on
the memoirs of Jennifer Worth.
They tell of her time as a trainee midwife with an order of nuns
in the East End of London.
It was the early days of the NHS,
and nuns were still pretty heavily involved in midwifery training.
Sadly Jennifer, whose maiden name was Lee,
passed away before our series started.
Today, I've come to meet Antonia Bruce,
a midwife who worked alongside Jennifer and knew her well.
Jennifer and Antonia spent six months together
training to become midwives
with the nuns in this building here in Poplar.
-So, it's 1958...
-..and here you are, a young midwife, trainee,
and you have come to this magnificent place.
Now, on television, we know it as Nonnatus House.
-But what did you call it?
-The Mission House.
-And you began six months of your training?
There was a wonderful ambience, wonderful place.
The particular thrill for me talking to you is, you knew Jennifer Worth.
-And you'd shared time with her,
um, and that small core of midwives
on which the book was formed,
on which a crystallising was based,
-you were really a part of, weren't you?
-Oh, yes. Absolutely.
-Was it a good time to be a midwife?
-Much more than today.
I mean, today, there's very little relationship with the midwife.
I mean, we saw the patients before they had their babies, during...
and then afterwards for 14 days.
-And it makes for a completely different relationship.
Now, push, Rosemary.
Birth was not considered something abnormal, it wasn't a disease.
-And so no hospitals were ever mentioned,
unless there was an emergency,
and they were delivered at home, happily, relaxed.
-And they had confidence in the midwife.
'I suppose most of us drew our first breath
'in the capable hands of a midwife.
'If the birth is likely to be abnormal,
'it should take place in hospital,
'but, otherwise, the general medical view is that this natural function
'is best carried out in the familiar surroundings of the home.
'After all, babies WERE born before hospitals existed.'
Was it a real vocation for you? Was it more than just a job?
This was a very special place,
and there was a religious background to everything, if you like.
The routine of the sisters, and the chapel and things like that -
to which we were included, if we wished to go.
Most of us were Christians, and Jenny was, too.
But the work was... it was a vocation, you know?
-And so we really applied ourselves,
and the outside world sort of disappeared, rather.
A bit like firemen, there must have been times where you sat there going
about your breakfast or your normal business and, all of a sudden,
-the telephone would ring...
..and suddenly, you had to burst into action.
Oh, come on, stir your stumps.
I'm first call, and you're coming with me.
'As soon as they called, you were up and off.'
It's in my case book that I was in Bow and I was in Poplar,
and all these other places all around.
We did a lot of cycling.
There are between 80 and 100 babies born each month in Poplar.
As soon as one vacates its pram, another one takes its place.
And thus it was, and ever shall be.
So, Antonia, this wonderful book -
could you explain to me what this is and why you have it?
-We had to present 12 cases that we had been responsible
for the mother, the baby, so it's all recorded in here.
Mother, prenatal, labour, postnatal.
But this is absolutely lovely.
It's actually birth... the processes,
as you're going round during the birth, you're...
"Normal delivery. Living female infant.
"In good condition, cried well."
It's wonderful, it's like a photograph of history.
That somebody's life.
-That's a new life in the world.
Absolutely, a miracle.
Oh, now, what is this wonderful thing here?
-Tell me about that.
-Well, this is what you would have called
-an autograph album.
-It's a writing album here.
And inside, I have writings from many different people,
particularly, four nuns who were at Poplar, and Jenny,
who is this first one in here.
So Jenny wrote a little dedication in your book?
-Fantastic. "It was summer when I found you in the meadow long ago,
"when the golden vetch was growing by the shore."
Oh, it's by Jennifer Lee.
These are fantastic.
They were very special, the sisters,
and I wanted a little record, you know.
-But they were very private,
and they weren't allowed to give or take things.
So by actually having their little writings in here is very special.
That's beautiful. And you're absolutely right, of course,
they don't have possessions.
-So their possessions are their minds and their hearts.
"So, Lord, complete thy great design in me.
"Give or reclaim thy gifts,
"but let me be strong in thy strength
"and with thy freedom, free."
-It's lovely, that.
-Voices from the past.
And back behind the scenes of Call The Midwife,
I'm with someone else who knew Jennifer.
-Completely focused on the child.
-Completely focused on the child.
-Pulse rate - very fast.
How many seconds do I need for that?
-We need a couple.
-You need a few seconds...
-Yeah, at least.
..because it will take you about six seconds to get a count.
Terri Coates is the midwife who helped Jennifer
with the clinical accuracy in her books.
..Is just to tilt the baby's head back slightly.
She now works with us on set
to ensure all the medical scenes look as realistic as possible.
This is George, and he does sleep really well when he's asleep.
Shall we hold it and do one more?
Come on, little one. Come on.
No response to painful stimuli.
Yes, let's try oxygen.
'In fact, Jennifer Worth's memoirs were written in response
'to an article Terri wrote for the Royal College of Midwives.'
It goes back to 1998 when I was finishing a master's degree
and I wanted to look at how midwives were perceived in literature.
And it was pure professional narcissism.
It was a sidestep away from a lot of the scientific books
that I'd been reading.
And I just wanted to read a novel, if I'm perfectly honest.
And I was drawing a blank.
Midwives were the invisible force in literature.
-They weren't there.
-So you wanted to do something about it?
How did you go about that?
Well, from an 8,000-word rant,
it got pared down to a more reasonable 1,500-word mutter,
and it was published by the Royal College of Midwives.
-So you sent out a clarion call...
..to midwives to come back with some creative answer
-to why midwives are invisible?
And Jennifer Worth was one of the people who wrote to me.
And about 18 months later,
she said that I had inspired her to write her memoirs,
and she sent me her handwritten manuscript, which was wonderful.
The stories leapt off the page.
But sitting there as a midwifery lecturer,
I really wanted to get my red pen onto the clinical parts of it,
because there were lots of bits that she'd misremembered.
I telephoned her and asked her
if she would like me to edit some of the bits.
She asked me to, "Edit all of it, please, dear."
And I did.
Jennifer published her first book of memoirs in 2002.
When I first read Jennifer Worth's memoirs,
I thought they'd make fantastic television for many reasons.
The stories themselves were so inherently dramatic.
She had a great cast of characters
and she was dealing with life-and-death issues
in every chapter, but also the fact
that midwifery itself had never been dramatised on television.
I think the reason that I felt Heidi Thomas was the perfect person to
adapt the books was because she, as a writer, combines the strengths
that are needed for any great TV adaptation.
She's incredibly passionate about what she does,
her writing is very emotional,
she's able to combine both tragedy and humour in every scene.
Sister Mary Cynthia and I will take the district list today.
Sorry, mad dash. Mrs Akintola's waters just broke
and she's contracting every three minutes. Would you see to the board?
The first time I met Jennifer,
she already knew that I was going to be adapting her memoirs
for television, so it was a bit like an arranged marriage.
We HAD to get on. And indeed we did get on.
I formed a lovely friendship with her over the first couple of years
of us developing the scripts,
and me conferring with her about the best way of putting the material
she'd created onto the page for television drama.
When we talked to Jennifer Worth about adapting her books,
she very quickly realised that we would exhaust the material
she'd written herself,
and she loved the idea that the world that she had created
could continue beyond the books, and have a life of its own.
Nonnatus House, midwife speaking.
Ah, and Nurse Gilbert has joined us.
How very kind of you to spare the time.
You can accompany Nurse Franklin.
Maternity home for me. Mrs Mullucks' labour appears to be revving up.
Jennifer's memoirs gave us most of the material we needed
for the first series, which was only six episodes long.
By the time the second series was commissioned,
we realised that we probably had about 50% of the material we needed
for that series, which was going to be eight episodes long
and, therefore, it became obvious to me I was going to have to go out
and gather material from real people, real sources, real midwives,
and also go to work in archives and libraries.
So now I'm off in search of some of the earliest midwifery sources.
I'm here at the John Rylands Library in Manchester to meet midwife
and historian Dr Janette Allotey.
-Lovely to meet you.
-And you. I've got some books to show you.
-Come with me.
-You lead the way.
Janette is an expert in the history of midwifery.
So this is the first book that we've got.
-The Birth Of Mankind.
The original one was written in 1513.
The original was written in German and it was written in Latin and then
it was translated from Latin into the English.
There wasn't a natural English edition at the time?
Did we have to go overseas to bring this back?
Yes, that's right.
A lot of the ancient birthing theory emanated from Greece.
In all the years I've done Call The Midwife, to my shame,
I don't actually know what the word means.
Where does the word "midwife" actually come from?
Well, it's from Middle English.
It's a Germanic word and it means "with woman".
-Yes, which is what midwifery is about, isn't it?
Being with women.
The next book...
The one that was written by a midwife for midwives,
-and the first one in this country, written in 1671...
..was by a midwife called Jane Sharp.
"The Midwives Book On The Whole Art Of Midwifry Discovered,
"directing child-bearing women how to behave themselves."
This is fantastic.
So this was 1671.
-Who was Jane Sharp?
Well, she was, um,
a practising midwife of 30 years and she wanted to pass on
some of her expertise to junior midwives.
There are just two pictures in this book.
-Yes. So it's interesting.
She's describing anatomy without many diagrams.
This is amazing. Look at this. So what we have is a...
..a picture of a woman's anatomy, child-bearing.
She looks rather mannish, actually.
-She does, actually.
-A bit like Michelangelo's David.
-There's the other one.
-So we have all these young men in the womb.
So, yeah. We have these... They look like three-year-olds, don't they?
They do. They look like, "What am I doing in this womb?"
And they're very athletic. They've got lots of space, haven't they?
-Enormous amounts of space!
-We don't know what gestation they are.
She did explain how to deliver these babies
in various difficult positions.
So, Janette, you were also a midwife.
-How was that?
It is wonderful. It's such a privilege.
Is everyone special, though?
-Different. It must be different.
You can get textbooks on midwifery but every case is different.
Nobody fits the textbook.
The joy of Call The Midwife is that
everyone has their own unique birth story.
Man, woman or child, we were all brought into the world by someone.
My own personal story begins here in the city where I was born -
I've come back to meet a former nun and midwife whose own experiences
echo a storyline close to my character's heart.
But first, I'm taking the opportunity to visit the house
where my own Call The Midwife story began.
Here's a memory jogger.
This is Birstall Road, Liverpool.
All my childhood was here.
And this is where I lived, number 4.
There were five kids, a mum and dad.
Seven of us in that house.
And I was born in that room.
And the reason was, just like Call The Midwife, my mum had me at home,
delivered by a midwife on a bike,
who drew up here on a really snowy night in a really bad mood,
and had me.
It was during the worst winter in Britain for over 200 years.
The snow was apparently feet high.
And she came through the snow on a bicycle
and, apparently, my mum said she was in a really foul mood.
So when she was delivering me, she was, well, really snappy.
My mum said it was terrible.
I think I came into this world apologising.
I've probably been apologising ever since.
There is a lovely story my brother Joe tells.
It's one of his earliest memories.
He was woken by the sound of me being born, and he came downstairs.
It wasn't a very big house.
So he came downstairs and my dad was sitting on the stairs, because he
wasn't allowed in the room, just like in Call The Midwife.
So Joe asked my dad what was going on and my dad took him back to bed
and explained what was happening -
that he was going to have a new little baby brother or sister.
Now, my mum was one of those Call The Midwife women,
and in that time, they married young,
they had lots of children and they had to cope.
When I was a kid, this street was full of children.
We were caught up in this post-war baby boom and so every house had its
own family and every family had its own character, and they would form
natural football teams with kids in the street
or rivals in a gang game,
and it was wonderful. It was an absolute riot of noise.
That's what's so different about that and today,
where it's quite peaceful.
But back then, that's the one abiding memory -
action, games, footballs,
tennis balls, everything happening all the time.
Just like the streets in Call The Midwife - children everywhere.
And this was my handiwork.
Done with tar. That was my friend, Mark.
And this was the beginnings of "S" and an "M" here.
Just like Dr Turner - still terrible doctor's handwriting back then.
My own small criminal past.
We weren't well-off by any means
but there were people who had it much harder than us.
One man who documented how hard life could be for some here in the '60s
was photographer Nick Hedges.
He was commissioned by the charity Shelter to photograph
the harsh realities of the housing crisis across the UK.
MUSIC: Daniella by Shack
# I remember crossing a bridge
# Yeah, Daniella and me
# I remember Jack went away
# And we followed him for seven days
# All the pubs and bars he'd been in
# All the shops and places that he'd seen... #
So, Nick, these photographs were taken in 1969.
Liverpool was the centre of the cultural world by then.
-Yet these pictures look like they're out of Dickens.
I think the housing crisis in the late '60s was disguised.
A lot of families were trapped in very poor housing with not much hope
of getting out of it.
Did you see this kind of poverty repeated in other cities in England?
Yeah. I mean, I think most of the major industrial cities of Britain
in the late '60s and '70s
were suffering from the same kind of malaise.
Significant areas of real housing deprivation.
Did you ever get down to London or the East End?
Oh, yeah. I used to live in London and the thing about London,
as you know, is that it is this city of huge contrasts
and I used to get the Tube to Whitechapel
and I would emerge into a completely different world.
The old East End.
The old East End, full of tenement blocks and really poor housing.
Families living on next to nothing.
As a young child in the '60s,
I remember those old soot-black houses,
but they were already beginning to knock them all down around me
-and put new housing up.
-I mean, what had happened, of course,
was those communities with quite strong bonds...
-..were being broken down...
-..by the demolition.
And you found there were families living in multi-let accommodation
where, previously, the houses weren't multi-let.
-And you got people living in cellars, like Mrs Ditchfield here,
I mean, with her daughter,
and then other families living in a single room.
It was dreadful.
And especially when they were bringing new babies into the world
and starting a new family.
-You had huge anxieties about the health of those children.
If there was one thing
those families could rely on,
it was the nuns and midwives
who worked here in Liverpool at the time,
like Eleanor Stewart.
-Nice to meet you.
-It is lovely to meet you.
Lovely to meet you.
Well, what do you make of this?
-This is fantastic, isn't it?
-Brings back memories.
-Oh, doesn't it just?
There's always been a close relationship
between nuns and midwives.
Even before Church licensing of midwives began in the 1500S,
the nuns of many orders cared for mothers and babies
in deprived communities.
As late as the 1950s and '60s,
some nuns still worked as midwives in the community,
as they do in Call The Midwife.
Eleanor was one of those nuns.
So where do you take a former nun to reminisce about the old days?
The pub, of course!
Here we are. Liverpool is swinging,
so there's this impression and side to Liverpool
like it's suddenly the centre of the world.
-But of course, there's another side to this city that I remember
when I was a young child in the late '60s.
Did you come upon and see for yourself
-the levels of poverty that were there?
-Yes, I did.
We delivered babies in, really, housing conditions that were quite,
Families living in one room.
The women were amazingly resilient and, you know,
just faced with such courage these awful conditions.
There was a community spirit that was very strong amongst women.
They supported each other, they helped each other.
They looked after each other's children.
Sometimes they even suckled each other's children.
-Oh, yes, that was not uncommon at all.
Oh, wow! What came first?
Were you a nurse first before you were a nun?
No, I was a nun first.
I went to France and was a novitiate
and then made my vows in France.
Then I came back to do my general training
and then, after three years,
when I became a registered nurse,
I then went to Liverpool Maternity Hospital.
Well, I think midwifery was really, for me,
a kind of life-changing experience.
I mean, I never went back to general nursing.
Once I'd been a midwife, I stayed a midwife,
and I just found it the most wonderful job.
So, do you remember the first time you were confronted with a birth?
Well, yeah, I mean, you had to witness so many births
before you could actually be allowed to help,
so wherever the nurses were,
when a woman was in labour, about to give birth,
a bell would ring, and then all the student midwives that needed to see
deliveries would rush,
so sometimes there would be eight or nine of us
standing round the bottom of a bed
while some poor lady, grunting and pushing... And they were lovely,
they'd say, "Can you all see, girls? Can you all see?"
And it was really hilarious!
And then of course, the wonderful day happened
when you had witnessed your ten deliveries.
I mean, the first time I saw a birth,
I just thought it was absolutely wonderful.
I mean, Liverpool was an incredibly fertile city.
-I mean, it really was.
I mean, I think almost every hospital had a maternity unit.
-I was surrounded by an aura of fecundity, I suppose.
-I had a baby in my arms some time of every day...
..and I became overwhelmed by the desire to have a child of my own,
which, you know, clearly,
sadly, is not compatible with a vow of chastity.
-I mean, it just isn't, you know!
There are some interesting parallels here.
Yes, like Sister Bernadette, you know.
People have sometimes said to me, "Did you meet somebody?"
Well, no. It took me about three years to find a husband.
-But you knew he was out there somewhere?
I knew he was out there somewhere. I just had to find him.
I still dream about it.
I dream that I'm having to make this awful, anguishing decision again,
all over again. So that was a long time ago.
I mean, I left in '69, so, you know,
I'm still remembering that decision-making process
and what it cost me.
When Mother Henrietta put me on the train at Lime Street,
she said, very noisily in the carriage,
she put her head in the carriage and she said, "Now, dear," she said,
"You're on your way," she said, "I know you want to have a baby."
Every head in the carriage turned towards me.
She said, "I know you want to have a baby," she said,
"but do get a husband first. It's so much neater."
You should be giving me away.
You should be walking with me.
You belong to no-one but yourself,
and you know exactly where you're going.
I think what I have come to understand about Call The Midwife
is that it can be enjoyed on a number of levels.
If you just want to flop down on a Sunday night and look at Trixie's
frocks, and listen to the lovely music and maybe have a glass of wine
and indulge yourself in an escapist treat, you can do that.
Or you can dig right down to the deepest level, where we are telling
stories about the human condition,
and if you want to, you can really engage with that,
not just matters of society or medicine
but matters of human existence, of life and death and birth.
Call The Midwife is set in the early days of the NHS, and my parents were
lucky enough to be able to take advantage of it
when their children were born.
BIG BEN CHIMES
'On July 5th, the new National Health Service starts,
'providing hospital and specialist services, medicines,
'drugs and appliances, care of the teeth and eyes.'
I've come to Swansea to meet the very first child born
on the day the NHS started in July 1948.
Aneira, I just love your name.
-What's the story behind it?
My mother used to relay the story back to me as I was growing up
and all I can remember, as a child,
she used to introduce me as Nye,
"This is Nye, my National Health baby."
She'd had a long, hard labour
and she was about to give birth to me on the night
of 4th July, around midnight,
and the doctor had to be called and the nurse - two nurses were there -
and she said they were watching the clock and she was about to push,
because she was used to hearing the word "push"
on all her other six children,
but all she could hear was, "Hold on, Edna. Hold on."
Because that particular day
was going to be a very big day for Great Britain -
it was the birth of the National Health Service.
So, after midnight, the new National Health Service came into being.
Into fruition, yes.
So... And the man who brought it into Great Britain
for the people of Great Britain, his name was Aneurin Bevan.
Wonderful man. And hence the name.
So the doctors asked my mother, "Please, can we name her Aneira?"
After the founder. And she liked the name.
-And the actual medics and the doctors...
-Yes, named me.
Aneurin Bevan knew all about ill-health and poverty.
Born in the Welsh Valleys,
like so many, he left school at 13 to work in the mines.
The scenes he witnessed inspired him
to create a new health care system for all.
But not everyone was in favour.
Many doctors at the time,
represented by the British Medical Association,
feared for their livelihoods and opposed State control.
But Bevan outmanoeuvred them,
first, conceding that they could still see some patients privately.
At the same time, he encouraged the public
to preregister for the new service,
which they did in their millions.
Faced with the enormous popularity of the new NHS,
the BMA had no option but to fall in line.
-Look at that.
-Yeah. The original.
5th July 1948.
-And this is you.
That's what they named me, Aneira.
-It's the feminine form of Aneurin, after Aneurin Bevan.
And this is the first birth certificate
-of the brand-new NHS.
-Yes, the NHS.
If I had been born one minute before midnight,
they'd have had to pay one shilling and sixpence.
And of course, after, it was free.
-And one shilling and sixpence in those days
must have been a lot of money, because we were seven children.
-Dad was a miner, not earning very much money,
so that one shilling and sixpence could have meant food...
extra food for one day.
Lips pinking up and the baby's still breathing.
Oh, thank God.
I'm all for giving medals to the gentleman upstairs, sir,
but in this case, credit should go to the National Health.
Ten years ago, we would have had none of this.
No obstetric flying squad, no ambulance and no chance.
-Placenta's complete, sir.
She'll need a further transfusion but we can do that here.
Right, let's take this little chap, get him sorted out.
What was your mother's life like before that era of the NHS?
Was there a big difference for her?
The health care then was for the privileged few,
so they couldn't afford health care.
My mother remembers her father being...
remembers looking out through the parlour window
and she'd seen her father being carried home from the mines
by two men. He had broken his leg in three places.
And she said they brought him in
and they laid him down on the kitchen table.
The doctor had to be called and the doctor said to all the children,
"I need your help to hold your father down," and the two men
and the doctor had to operate on his leg without anaesthetic.
-They must have had ether. And she lived until she was 95
and she always used to say, and put her hands to her ear,
she used to say, "Darling, I can hear those screams today."
And how old was she when she heard those screams?
-Oh, what an experience!
Yes, the other children were small.
-What a terrible experience.
They couldn't pay the doctor.
There was no money to pay the doctor and the only thing they could do was
sell the family piano, and that piano was everything,
because Mum was a pianist, so she remembers the children crying
as the piano was being carried out to sell.
-A sad story.
-It is, isn't it?
Oh, this is an amazing picture.
-It is, isn't it?
-Who is this?
Well, this would be my great-grandmother.
Her name was Hannah.
And she was the local midwife.
She was the lady they used to send for
when mothers were about to give birth.
I'd love to close my eyes and go back in time
-and have seen what she was like.
-When was this?
What year was this, roughly?
-I think it must have been the early 1900s or the late 1800s.
-But she's not a professional at this time?
-She's just a local person trusted by everybody else.
Yeah, trusted, yeah. Because she'd had ten of her own children,
So, Aneira, as the great National Health baby...
..if you could describe the NHS in one word, what word would that be?
And in the 1960s,
the East End of London was going through a social revolution.
In recent series of Call The Midwife,
we've been really keen to reflect the changing face of the East End,
which, in turn, means reflecting the changing face of Britain.
In the last episode of series five,
Barbara went to the home of a woman called Tripti Valluk,
who is a recent arrival in the country.
She is from the Sylhet area of Bangladesh and she's giving birth
to her first baby in quite sort of grubby
and difficult domestic circumstances.
That's absolutely perfect, Tripti.
There's no need to thank me, Muna. It's all part of the job.
Now, let's get you on the bed and see if we can have a listen to baby.
Mr Valluk, I beg your pardon, are you working shifts again?
I'm sorry, but...
-..he will not look.
-It's all right.
Once I delivered a baby with the father fast asleep beside his wife
but he was drunk, and Mr Valluk just looks tired.
It's not the home we left but it is a new home.
That is why I want the baby born here, in my bed.
And if that is what you want, that is what you shall have.
It's a very beautiful birth
and there is a very beautiful aftermath to the birth.
We show her being bathed by candlelight because the family
have run out of money for the gas meter.
But I think that, with the arrival of that little girl,
we're showing something about the birth of the Asian population
in our country.
I think this young lady has been here before.
Maybe not in this continent...
maybe not in weather like this,
but she's been here.
And it did occur to me that a really important part
of British social history was the rise of mixed-race marriage
and so the Antoines have a father from Jamaica
and a mother who is white and from the East End.
I was at school with Kerry Antoine's sister, June.
She came into assembly with her eyes bright red from crying one day,
wouldn't say why.
It was my mum who told me Kerry was going to marry a black man.
No-one can really choose who they fall in love with.
I certainly don't like some of the things I've heard said to those
little Antoine lads at Cubs.
They're only repeating what they've heard at home
but I've clamped down, nonetheless.
And as we see in these exclusive scenes from our new series,
Nurse Crane is determined to promote integration.
She encourages the Cubs in her charge to welcome and value
every new member of the community.
-Pack, pack, pack!
Take a seat, boys.
-That's quite sufficient,
thank you, Abdul. Now, tonight,
we're going to take it in turns to step to the front
and show all the other Cubs our treasures from home.
It's a chance to practise our public speaking and learn new things.
And we're going to start with Lenny Wesley
and Jerome Antoine talking about something very important.
This is our baby brother, Delamere.
He was born last week and he has pale-brown skin, like us,
because our mum is from Poplar and our dad is from Jamaica.
Everybody looks a bit like their mum and a bit like their dad.
You might have blue eyes like one of your parents,
and blond or ginger hair like the other one.
Mostly, we think Delamere looks like us.
You can come a bit closer if you like.
And if you're lucky, he might squeeze your finger.
There's something very special about newborn babies.
They're so tiny and so fragile
and every time we have a baby on the set,
it becomes a little bit like a wildlife movie, everybody whispers.
And even quite hardened cameramen become very tender and very quiet in
their movements and I must confess, I often try and create a scenario
whereby it is imperative that the executive producer
gets to hold the baby as part of her morning's work.
And those are very good days in the office.
-Do you want to hold him?
-I'd love to.
-There we go.
What I'd like to do, I was just saying to Terri,
I'd like to have a party and invite all of the babies we've ever had,
because I think it's more than 90 children.
-Oh, it would, wouldn't it?
-It would be so nice.
-And some of them would be about six.
And you, young man, you'll be one of the youngest.
You will. Look at that.
I don't think birth has ever been depicted on the literary page
with as much attention to detail as it was by Jennifer Worth.
I was really keen to keep this with the television series.
We go into that intimate space with a great deal of scientific detail
and we've been hugely helped in that
by our consultant midwife Terri Coates.
So, Terri, this is our clinical room.
It is, and I've come here to put this little one down
and wrap her up again.
Aren't they incredible, these models?
They are. Do you know, I'm just always amazed at how beautiful
these babies are. But they are prosthetics.
Yeah, some people can be quite taken aback by them...
-Because they are so...
-They're so realistic.
So lifelike. And they've got everything,
down to their little fingers, just spot-on.
What always gets me about your mastery of all the instruments
that we have to use is, you don't just have to know what you know as a
midwife nowadays, but you have to go back in time to use the instruments
that they used in the '50s and '60s.
But do you know what? An awful lot of them haven't changed.
For basic midwifery, the instruments haven't really changed.
One thing that has changed, of course,
-is the amazing prosthetics...
..that we've developed over the last few years
and the cords that go with the prosthetic dolls.
Yes, the umbilicals, one of our specialties.
They really make the birth so much more real.
You can attach these to the baby's abdomen
and it gives them an amazingly realistic result.
I love it when it works, because you once said to me,
"That's when I get moved."
I watched you. I saw you crying once and I was surprised.
-Because it's pretend!
I said, "But you midwife real babies."
And I remembered you saying to me, you know,
-"It's because looks right."
And is that what you aim for? As long as it looks right enough.
If it looks right, it feels right
and that's the point at which I'm moved.
This is one of those things which is a timeless...
It is, and that's actually mine.
-That's been with me since I was a student midwife.
I'm sure you've see me use that before.
-But this is actually yours?
-That's mine with my name on, yeah.
-And this is a peen-ard.
-Sorry. Let's get the phraseology right.
Yes. And that's to listen to...
Because, of course, back then,
we didn't have the scans that we have now.
No, in 1962, it would have been perfectly normal to use X-rays.
We used them far more then than we do now.
Wow. Was that safe, by modern standards?
It was safe by the standards of 1962, yes.
And we still use these now. We use these to locate the foetal heart,
and then use the electronic devices now, we have the sonic aids.
-And we use these to listen over the baby's back.
So if we're using it on a prosthetic abdomen,
the midwife will still have to palpate
to find where the foetal heart is
and she will use it sort of lined up -
so imagine that the baby's head was round about here,
the baby's bottom would be here and the back would be there,
so you would listen round about there.
You say that as if you've never heard it before.
I haven't for a while. I've been mainly on district nursing duty.
Now, in the early '60s, you had revolutions beginning to happen...
Um, I was speaking to a midwife only last week
about the advent of the Pill,
the advent of the '60s - you had everything changing.
How big an effect
on you and your work was the advent of the pill?
The advent of the pill was enormous,
not specifically for midwifes but for women in general.
The pill was enormous
and it gave women control of their fertility,
which really gives them control of their lives
and allowed them to space their families.
The first British trials of the pill took place
at the family planning clinic in Birmingham in 1960.
It proved to be extremely popular...
and highly controversial.
So, the contraceptive pill.
Licensed for distribution within weeks.
It's been talked about for so long, it's hardly a surprise.
But it is a challenge.
Of course it's a challenge, Sister.
Antibiotics were a challenge once.
Antibiotics were also a miracle.
And you think the contraceptive pill isn't?
It's a miracle with moral implications, Dr Turner.
Take-up was fast.
By 1969, a million women were taking it.
Jennifer Worth wrote,
"As soon as they could take contraception into their own hands,
Even Sister Julienne is coming to terms with this new reality -
as we see in this clip from our new series.
I was told today that the family contraceptive clinics were launching
district clinics in an attempt to cut down waiting lists.
I hope there's going to be one in our clinic.
We're going to get one in our community centre.
On Tuesday afternoons, in the small room at the back.
It's been suggested that patients use the side door.
But the unmarried mothers use the side door.
Why can't everyone come in at the front?
They are just women, not criminals.
I don't think you need to use quite such strong terms, Nurse Dyer.
I'm sorry, Sister.
But everyone coming to that clinic is married or about to be,
those are the rules.
So why should they be made to feel ashamed or even embarrassed?
Men have been buying contraception from the barber's for years.
Apparently. A short back and sides and then something for the weekend.
Women should be able to take care of their health
in exactly the same way.
"I'll have a perm and the contraceptive pill."
I shall be assisting the doctor for the first few weeks,
so I will have the chance to make up my own opinion on such matters.
As we entered the 1960s, faith in new medical advancements was high.
Drugs were tackling the old killers - diphtheria, TB, polio -
there seemed to be a wonder drug for every ill.
But the world was about to learn of the terrible side-effects
caused by one of them - thalidomide.
Rosaleen Moriarty-Simmonds was one of the thousands of people affected by the drug.
My mum had not long turned 18.
She was 17 when I was conceived
and two months into...after her 18th birthday when I was born.
My mum had horrific morning sickness.
Um, she was only 17,
pregnant out of wedlock and I guess the whole lot was too much
for her to handle and Thalidomide is a sleeping tablet.
You go along to a doctor, she explained she was struggling,
I suppose, and not sleeping, and she was prescribed Thalidomide,
which, at the time, nobody knew, of course, what the consequences would be.
One as necessary, just as you've been taking them.
I'll tell you what, every woman in the family way
is going to be banging your doors down for these.
What's that magic stuff in them again?
The tablets are known as Distaval.
The magic ingredient is called Thalidomide.
Well, better get some more in - I'm going to spread the word.
I was a medical student in Cardiff in the early '60s.
Rosaleen's mother was allocated to me
and she was only 18 years old at the time
and very ill with pre-eclamptic toxaemia.
We went through the day
and, in the evening, I think it was Sunday evening, I have that feeling,
the senior sister said, "I will examine her now.
"Probably there is no progress and we'll make her comfortable for the night."
And she examined her and she said, suddenly, "Dear, scrub! She's fully dilated!"
I felt for the umbilical cord,
which was not present, around her neck,
but it didn't...
The anatomy didn't feel right and, when I was meditating on this,
Sister said, "Ease the anterior shoulder, dear."
I said, "She hasn't got one."
And, with which, baby appeared.
Announcing her very healthy and vigorous,
but with malformations that caused everybody...
For an instant, there was such a silence.
-Baby's a bit chilly, Rhoda.
I'm going to pop to the nursery with her
and just put her under the heat lamp for a minute or two.
I don't think this particular problem had been observed,
certainly in Cardiff, I don't think so,
from what I picked up afterwards.
Has Rhoda Mullucks delivered?
A little girl.
I saw Mrs Moriarty in two or three days.
She was wonderful, instant bonding, you know, and no...
Wonderful, really. She said to me,
"I shall need to give her a very pretty name," she said,
"and I'm going to call her Rosaleen."
What a mess.
What a mess, eh?
We'll sort something out.
Because you're mine.
And I'm not bailing out on you.
So one of the nurses just sort of took me to her,
completely wrapped up with just my face showing, and when she did sort
of unwrap everything, I don't know if she was even aware that she'd looked at my limbs,
she just looked at my face and said,
"She's beautiful, she's mine and always will be."
I've always been very interested in the notion of families with a
disabled child at their heart because, in 1970,
I became the elder sister to a little boy
who was born with very severe disabilities -
that's my brother, David.
Although I was only seven years older than him,
I was seven years older than him
and I very much remember the impact this had on my parents.
They, like the parents of the Thalidomide children,
were the first generation to raise their disabled children
in a home environment without necessarily having the support
from society that they needed.
I was one of the about 45% of the Thalidomide-impaired babies
that was kept, loved and nurtured.
Sadly, a lot more were abandoned.
My parents, I think,
were actually very brave because they did go on to have more children,
even though the fact that I was the eldest and clearly born disabled,
and they still didn't know what the cause of it was until my mum...
less than 12 months later, was pregnant with my sister, Deborah, who...
Actually, there's only 16 months between us and she was in hospital
under a professor because of, of course, the situation with my birth,
and he brought the Lancet, the medical paper,
along and in it was a letter from another doctor saying that
there'd been an influx of babies born with similar impairments to mine
and they believed that it was possibly the drug Thalidomide.
It was this letter written by Australian medic William McBride
that alerted doctors that Thalidomide had caused birth defects
to over 10,000 children worldwide.
Deformed babies have been born in our district.
We need to speak to someone...
..and then we need to act.
Distival was withdrawn in 1961.
When I was researching the Thalidomide story,
I was really struck by how many people were touched by this scandal,
by that drug, other than the parents themselves and the babies.
The caregivers were deeply affected and doctors, obviously,
such as Dr Turner.
I was once at a literary festival and a lady came up to me and said quite quietly,
"I was a nursing sister in a cottage hospital when the news
"about Thalidomide broke," and she said, "I so remember driving round,
"knocking on doors, trying to get those tablets back from expectant mothers."
May I speak to your wife?
It's regarding a problem with her prescription medication.
I'd wanted to cover the story of Thalidomide for quite a long time.
When the idea first came into my head, I think we were only on about series two.
It's such an intrinsic part of medical history and so important
to the history of disabled people in our society, but I realised
that we would have to wait until series five, if we got that far,
because it was only in December of 1961 that it was made publicly clear
the damage that the drug was causing.
Prior to that, babies were being born with terrible anomalies,
but the dots weren't being joined up and people didn't realise.
So we knew that it would have to be series five,
which would be set in 1961.
The way it was portrayed in Call The Midwife was exceptional,
and it has educated and got to a lot more people than even a documentary
or a newspaper article would.
One of the things that I was very struck by as the sibling of a child with disabilities
was how poor educational provision was in the '60s and even into
the 1970s for children with special needs.
And talking to my Thalidomide friends and the people who help us
with research, this was a subject that came up again and again
that once the children who were reared by their parents
and weren't brought up in institutions were no longer babies,
the provision was not there for them that other children had.
She's only 18 months!
I was just trying to put her name down for when she's three,
like I put Belinda's name down and Perry's.
And Mrs Bathgate refused point blank?
She said she couldn't take sick children.
Did you explain to her that Susan isn't ill?
I told Mrs Bathgate to speak to you.
She's going to need an education.
The Thalidomide didn't do anything to her brain.
As far as my parents were concerned,
getting a good education was absolutely paramount.
It was 1970 before disabled people even had a right to an academic education,
so any disabled people that were educated before that
were incredibly lucky, really.
I did get a good education.
I finished off with a degree from Cardiff University.
I think, at the end of the day,
you make of life what you choose to make of life and, as Dr Valerie,
I'm sure, will tell you at some stage, I came out loud -
I'm going out even louder!
Our remit at Call The Midwife is to give a voice to people
who have experienced great and beautiful and terrible things
and never had a voice before.
We are somehow digging up lives that were silent
and we're shining a light on lives that were experienced,
if not in darkness at the time,
that were very quickly sort of vanished into the mists of history
afterwards and I just love that idea that with every year that goes round,
with every episode, that I sit down,
with this kind of blank page and I think,
"Whose story am I going to tell today?"
There will be this little voice or this hand that goes up
in the mists of history and says, "Me, tell my story."
So, when I started out on this journey,
I was very keen to meet some of the real people behind the world of
Call The Midwife and, in doing so,
I wanted to try and maybe tap into some of the reasons
why our programme was such a success.
And I think I've found that but I've found out so much more.
You know, when people talk about Call The Midwife,
that the reason it's successful is it's nostalgic,
it's about the audience looking back in time at something,
some sort of perfect ideal world that never really existed,
but I've never thought that was true.
How can it be nostalgic
to show and depict scenes of such incredible grinding poverty?
Of children living in appalling conditions?
Or a family suffering the agonies of the effects of Thalidomide?
When you apply care in our society, it doesn't just happen by accident.
To care for a baby as soon as it comes into the world,
like the midwife who holds a new child,
or, in a more large organised way,
to create a huge system like the National Health Service -
that can look after people from the cradle to the grave -
that doesn't just happen by default, it has to be built.
Like an architect, you have to build it up into this huge cathedral of care.
But that is done stone by stone by individual people
and that's the way it happened in our country.
It happened by individual men and women
applying their whole lives to the care of others.
What these people I've met have shown me
is that we have all of these wonderful things around us,
the things we take for granted,
because of the contributions of those real people.
I think we should all be very grateful to them
and I am certainly very privileged to have met just a few of them.
Subtitles by Ericsson
Documentary in which Stephen McGann, who plays Dr Patrick Turner in drama series Call the Midwife, explores the social and medical changes that took place in the 1950s and 60s relating to childbirth.
Along the way, Stephen meets midwives, nuns and doctors who helped deliver babies during the period.
As well as archive footage and expert interviews, the programme features clips from past editions of Call the Midwife, footage of the new sixth series and an interview with creator and writer Heidi Thomas.