In a TV landscape filled with medical dramas, PBS’ Call the Midwife stands out as both a period piece set in 1960s East End London, and a series that edifies and entertains its audience with historical knowledge.
That tradition continued when Season 10 premiered Sunday, kicking off in the spring of 1966. The main story focused on two married friends and neighbors, Audrey and Glynis, who were both nine months pregnant. Audrey was expecting her first child and Glynis, the mother of twins, awaited her third. Everything had gone swimmingly until the two went into labor around the same time.
Glynis was so dilated, she had to give birth to her beautiful baby girl in the kitchen with Sister Julienne’s help. And Audrey, who had started going into labor in her bedroom, stayed put and let midwife/nurse Lucille and Sister Frances guide the way. Audrey pushed and when her baby boy, whom she named Christopher, was born, he wasn’t breathing. He also didn’t have the bottom half of his legs.
Lucille tried to revive the baby but to no avail, and an overwhelmed Sister Frances tried to comfort Audrey but that also proved unsuccessful. Sister Frances ran to call Dr. Turner, and a more seasoned Sister Julienne stepped in and came up with a solution to keep the baby on ice so that a very distraught Audrey and her equally heartbroken husband Derek could spend more time with sweet baby, Christopher.
The next night, when Derek told an old army buddy about Christopher’s birth defects, the friend shared that his daughter had been born with three of her fingers missing. That’s when Derek, who had been suffering from vicious ulcers and coughing up blood even before Christopher was born, connected the dots. The two had done their military service on Christmas Island during “Operation Grapple,” when the British conducted atomic weapons testing from 1958 to 1959.
When Derek talked to Dr. Turner about his theory, the doctor realized Derek and his chaps had suffered radiation poisoning, which would explain the fetal abnormalities and Derek’s bloody ulcer. Dr. Turner also could rule out thalidomide (first introduced in Season 4), because it had been taken off the market five years earlier.
Fueled by their infuriating elucidations, Audrey and Dr. Turner and Shelagh Turner vowed to find justice and answers for Derek and his fellow soldiers. Audrey and Glynis also made peace, and Audrey urged Glynis to not hide her baby girl — or her joy — from her.
Elsewhere in the installment, Nurse Trixie started working at the Lady Emily Clinic, a private hospital for the well-heeled, in order to generate additional and much-needed income for Nonnatus House; and Nurse Lucille helped her fellow Caribbean friend Cyril find a permanent home. Sister Monica Joan struggled to walk again while recovering from a broken leg — and her broken faith in God. And someone stole the World Cup.
What did you think of the Season 10 premiere of Call the Midwife? Grade the opener in our poll and drop your thoughts in the comments.
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