BBC WORLDWIDE AND PBS ANNOUNCE CALL THE MIDWIFE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL AND SEASON 7 FILMING
Neal Street Productions’ Smash British Series Continues to Be a Hit With PBS Viewers
Leonie Elliott Joins Regular Cast as Midwife Lucille
Anita Dobson Guest Stars in Christmas Special
ARLINGTON, VA; MAY 31, 2017 –PBS announced today that the popular Christmas special and a seventh season of the critically acclaimed BBC drama CALL THE MIDWIFE will return to PBS.
The CALL THE MIDWIFE HOLIDAY SPECIAL will air in late 2017 and the seventh season will air in the spring of 2018.
Joining the cast in Season 7 is Leonie Elliott (Wondrous Oblivion, Danny and the Human Zoo, “Black Mirror”), who plays Nurse Lucille Anderson, the first West Indian midwife to be featured as a regular character in the series. Elegant, funny and clever, Nurse Lucille is swift to settle in and brings a fresh new energy to life at Nonnatus House. Through her eyes, viewers explore the experiences of Caribbean nurses who went to London in the 1960s to support the growing Nonnatus House.
Written by Heidi Thomas, the Christmas special opens with Poplar under a thick blanket of snow, as the midwives face the challenge of the coldest winter for 300 years. The winter of 1963 saw temperatures plunge to a record low and the whole country brought to a standstill due to the severe weather. Battling snow, ice, power cuts and frozen pipes, the midwives strive to provide the best possible care for their patients. Valerie helps a young couple, newly arrived in London, who experience a traumatic birth, and Sister Julienne strives to reunite a family torn apart by a tormenting father. Anita Dobson (“EastEnders,” “Doctors”) guest stars as Mabel.
Season 7 begins with the nuns and nurses being tested as they have never been before, both personally and professionally. All around them they see the old East End vanishing, as slum clearances make way for bold new tower blocks to accommodate expanding communities. Their work brings them into contact with a wide range of challenges, from leprosy, tokophobia and stroke, to Huntington’s chorea, cataracts and unmarried mothers. Trixie’s romance with Christopher continues to develop, while Tom and Barbara enjoy life as a married couple. Nurse Crane finds her authority questioned from an unexpected quarter and Sister Monica Joan is forced to accept her failing faculties. Life for the Turners is turned upside down when Shelagh decides to employ an au pair.
“CALL THE MIDWIFE continues to delight viewers in both the UK and the U.S. with charming storylines and loveable characters,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with our BBC and Neal Street partners as we bring the midwives back this December and embark on a seventh season together.”
“We can’t wait to introduce the audience to our new midwife, Lucille, played by the hugely talented and captivating Leonie Elliott,” said Dame Pippa Harris, executive producer for Neal Street Productions. “From her first audition, Leonie managed to embody the essence of this elegant, intelligent, witty character, who Heidi Thomas has created with her customary skill. Lucille is a fantastic addition to the Nonnatus House team and we know she will be warmly welcomed by the nuns and midwives.”
CALL THE MIDWIFE stars Jenny Agutter (“The Railway Children,” “Spooks”) as Sister Julienne, Linda Bassett (“East Is East,” “Lark Rise to Candleford”) as Nurse Phyllis Crane, Judy Parfitt (“Little Dorrit,” Girl With a Pearl Earring), who was nominated for a 2013 Satellite Award for her work as Sister Monica Joan, Helen George (“Hollyoaks,” “Doctors”) as Trixie Franklin, Laura Main (“Monarch of the Glen”) as Shelagh Turner, Charlotte Ritchie (“Life of Riley,” “Fresh Meat”) as Nurse Barbara Gilbert, Victoria Yeates (“Holby City”) as Sister Winifred, Jennifer Kirby (“Holby City”) as Nurse Valerie Dyer, Stephen McGann (“Emmerdale”) as Dr. Patrick Turner, Jack Ashton (“Endeavour,” “Of Mary”) as Tom Hereward, Cliff Parisi (“EastEnders”) as Fred, Annabelle Apsion (“Shameless”) as Violet Buckle, Jack Hawkins (“Holby City”) as Christopher Dockerill and Leonie Elliott (Wondrous Oblivion, Danny and the Human Zoo) as Nurse Lucille Anderson.
Season 5 of CALL THE MIDWIFE, which aired on PBS in spring 2016, averaged a 2.21 household rating with an average audience of 3.1 million viewers (P2+), and the series has seen an overall growth of 6 percent since its Season 1 debut. There were 2.1 million streams of Season 5 across station-branded PBS platforms (April 4-June 7, 2016). Through six episodes, Season 6 of CALL THE MIDWIFE is outpacing its two most recent U.S. runs by averaging a 2.40 HH rating and delivering nearly 3.4 million viewers (P2+) per minute. Momentum has increased over the course of the current season, with the April 30, 2017, broadcast of Episode 5 (2.60 HH, 3.7 MM P2+) marking the series’ third highest-rated U.S. outing of all time. Moreover, CALL THE MIDWIFE landed PBS the #3 spot among Women 40+ for the April 2017 Sunday 8 pm timeslot. Season 6 to date, 9.3 million Americans have tuned to one or more episodes of CALL THE MIDWIFE on television. In addition, the season has generated 1.6 million digital streams.
Made by Neal Street Productions for BBC One and PBS, CALL THE MIDWIFE has also been one of Britain’s most popular drama series since it launched in 2012, and it continues to be one of the most-watched dramas in the UK, with all six seasons to date gaining over 10 million viewers. More than 11 million people watched CALL THE MIDWIFE Season 6 Episode 3, and the series itself rated even higher than Season 5. CALL THE MIDWIFE has recently been voted the Best Drama of the 21st Century in the BFI & Radio Times Festival Audience Poll.
The ensemble cast of CALL THE MIDWIFE will be honored at the 42nd Annual Gracie Awards.
CALL THE MIDWIFE is created and written by Heidi Thomas; executive producers are Pippa Harris and Heidi Thomas. Executive producer for the BBC is Elizabeth Kilgarriff, with Ann Tricklebank (“Upstairs Downstairs,” “Larkrise to Candleford”) as producer. The Christmas special and episode one will be directed by Syd Macartney (“Last Tango in Halifax,” “The Syndicate,” A Love Divided). The series is a Neal Street production for BBC/PBS and is distributed by BBC Worldwide North America.
Full episodes of CALL THE MIDWIFE (Season 7) will be available to stream the morning after broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and PBS apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.
CALL THE MIDWIFE contains mature content that may not be suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised. Rated TV-14.
CALL THE MIDWIFE seasons 1-6 are now available on DVD and Blu-ray on shopPBS.org. Additional items, including Jennifer Worth’s memoirs, published by Penguin Books, and The Life and Times of Call the Midwife, published by Harper Collins, are also available.
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About Neal Street Productions
Neal Street Productions was formed in 2003 by Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris and Caro Newling, and Nicolas Brown joined in 2013 to work across the film and TV portfolio. The company has been successful in film, theatre and television with hit movies including Revolutionary Road, Jarhead and Starter for 10. Their diverse television slate includes the award-winning Stuart A Life Backwards, with Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch, and the hugely successful CALL THE MIDWIFE. All six series to date have gained over 10 million viewers, it is the UK’s most watched TV drama series and it has recently been voted the Best Drama of the 21st Century in the BFI & Radio Times Festival Audience Poll. A third and final series of Penny Dreadful, written by John Logan, starring Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Timothy Dalton and Rory Kinnear aired on Showtime in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK in spring 2016. Neal Street also produced the critically acclaimed and award-winning The Hollow Crown — a series of Shakespeare films for the BBC/PBS — starring Ben Whishaw, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons, and a second series, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Hugh Bonneville, Keeley Hawes and Sophie Okonedo, has been nominated for three Baftas this year. Their latest show, Britannia, a major new original drama series written by Jez Butterworth and starring Kelly Reilly, Zoe Wannamaker and David Morrissey, will air on Sky and Amazon in 2017. On the theatre side, current productions include The Ferryman, written by Jez Butterworth, which has just opened to 5* reviews at the Royal Court, and Charlie at the Chocolate Factory The Musical, which is at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway. Neal Street Productions is an All3Media company; All3Media is owned jointly between Discovery Communications and Liberty Global.
About BBC Worldwide North America
BBC Worldwide North America is the main commercial arm and wholly-owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) operating in the U.S. and Canada. The company exists to maximize the value of the BBC’s assets for the benefit of the UK license payer and invests in public service programing in return for rights. The company operates four businesses in the territory — linear and digital content sales and co-productions, consumer products, BBC.com, and two studios based in Los Angeles — BBC Worldwide Productions, responsible for the smash hit Dancing with the Stars and the limited series The Night Of; and Adjacent Productions, producers of Life Below Zero and Ladies of London, among others. The company also owns a 50.1% share in cable channel BBC AMERICA through a joint venture with AMC Networks.