The one thing I have enjoyed about this series of Call the Midwife is that it has had a much more serious tone thanks in part to the absence of Miranda Hart as Chummy whose comic interludes never really did anything for me. Knowing that the character would return this week filled me with trepidation as I thought this episode would suffer as a result thankfully though Hart’s appearances were kept to a minimum allowing the other stories to thrive.
However those stories did include the latest attempt by Jenny Lee to help out another expectant mother when she starts treating Monique Hyde a recent arrival in Britain, who is shunned by the women of Poplar because of the colour of her skin. Early on it is established that Monique is a softly-spoken polite woman and a stark contrast to the shrieking mothers we see in the clinic every week, who include Monique’s neighbour Rita Bailey. As Jenny spends more time with Monique she learns that she travelled from the Caribbean over to England because she thought her life would be better there but she’s now discovered this isn’t the case mainly because she faces prejudice from all of her neighbours. When Rita almost slips down the stairs while carrying her washing, Monique is there to save her and the two women begin to bond. However when Rita’s friends see her talking to Monique she ignores her once again. Eventually Monique is about to give birth however when her call to Nonnatus House is ignored, more on that later, she instead implores Rita to help her which her neighbour does while also telling her prejudiced friends to sod off. Almost being carried by Rita, Monique makes it to Nonnatus House where she is treated by a gaggle of midwives and eventually her baby is delivered successfully. While I did enjoy this storyline, especially the performance by Velile Tshabalala as Monique, I felt it didn’t have enough time dedicated to it and therefore a lot of issues dealt with here were rushed through.
This week also saw Cynthia go all Jenny Lee on us by interfering in the relationship between a cafe owner and his wife, as she believes the latter needs to stop being bullied by the former. Cynthia starts visiting John Lacey after Sister Evangelina diagnoses him with diabetes and the pair inform his wife Annie that she needs to stop feeding him pie and beer or he’ll get even worse. Cynthia wants to know why Annie puts up with John’s constant tirades and later learns that she and her son were homeless and John took them off the streets but he’s never let her forget about it, which means she’s felt like she has to wait on him hand and foot. Later the news that her son Bob is coming for a visit fills both Annie and John with excitement with the latter getting out of his bed to greet him. However when he doesn’t turn up John lashes out at his wife once again. Bob does return from America the following day bringing with him a new fiancé who looks down her nose at the squalor his parents live in and basically tells him that she doesn’t want to see his parents again. However he decides to meet up with his mother and this meeting coupled with Cynthia’s words finally sees her stand up to John and if the final scene is anything to go by then their relationship looks like it has progressed. This story really worked for me thanks to the performance from Warren Clarke as the cantankerous John, with his best scene being an early exchange between himself and Sister Evangelina with Clarke and Ferris bouncing off each other brilliantly.
We had several other stories playing into this week’s episode starting with Sister Bernadette’s time in the convalescent home, as she tries to get treatment for her tuberculosis. While she is visited by several of the Nonnatus House regulars she leaves all of Dr Turner’s letters unopened leading the staff at the home to believe she is an international nun of mystery. Eventually though she tells Sister Julienne that she believes her calling lies outside of Nonnatus with the head nun giving her blessing to Bernadette, while at the same time warning her that it won’t be an easy journey. Sister Julienne also has to deal with the continued senility of Sister Monica Joan, who hangs up on Monique when she calls for a midwife and also continues to appear confused throughout the day. In a heartbreaking exchange between the sisters Monica Joan tells Julienne that devils are plaguing her and tells her friend to beware of the future.
There was also yet another comedy storyline involving Fred where he introduced a scooter as an alternative vehicle to the bicycles, however he wouldn’t let any of the nurses use it until they were properly trained. Later Sister Evangelina realises that Fred can’t actually ride the scooter so instead she gives him a lesson meaning that he can in turn teach the nurses. Finally we have Chummy’s much publicised return, which was actually fairly anticlimactic; however we do learn that she is now pregnant which means next week we have another birth to look forward to.
Personally I found this week’s Call the Midwife to be a little bit too crowded with six interlinking stories a bit too much for a sixty minute programme such as this. While I enjoyed separate elements of both of the stories involving Monique Hyde and the Laceys I felt that neither was given the time it needed to develop and both could’ve easily been given their own separate episodes.
I did enjoy the fact that Sister Bernadette finally confessed the truth to Sister Julienne, with Laura Main once again putting in a great performance, which means that next week we will hopefully get a happy conclusion to the story involving her and Dr Turner however as Sister Evangelina tells Cynthia – ‘we don’t do Hollywood endings here we simply do our jobs.’ I have to say that Call the Midwife did an excellent job setting up storylines to get us to tune in to next week’s finale even if the central story will involve Chummy giving birth.
What did you think to tonight’s Call the Midwife? Did you think there was too much going on? Leave Your Comments Below.