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Maj Canton - December 24, 2023




On Monday,  December 25, 2023 at 8pm, PBS premieres CALL THE MIDWIFE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 2023. This year's special takes place two weeks before Christmas in 1968, where delicate situations cause uncertainty for the midwives. With the upcoming Apollo 8 launch and the festivity preparations starting, a treacherous heavy snowfall may complicate the holiday celebrations for everyone. Sister Monica Joan has shared with Nonnatus house that she believes it will be her last Yuletide after deciding she will not live to see a man walk on the moon. Trixie and her brother Geoffrey decided they must come up with a plan to lighten Sister Monica's mind. Elsewhere, Nancy has decided to stay at Nonnatus House as Sister Julienne offers her and Colette a room. Newlyweds Trixie and Matthew are back from their honeymoon and excited for their first Christmas together as husband and wife while Cyril hopes to help a lonely man living in a dilapidated basement flat who finds Christmas the hardest time of the year. Well now, it wouldn't be a MIDWIFE Christmas if there weren't the birth of a baby (or two), Fred dressed as Santa, plenty of tears as well a joy and snow. Fans of CALL THE MIDWIFE won't be disappointed – you'll have a holly, jolly Christmas!




What is Sister Julienne up to this Christmas?

She has a particularly busy Christmas. There is an exploration of a new medication for fertility which brings with it a mother who is expecting twins as a result, which is wonderful. The birth all happens rather excitingly and it was quite something to film - there were a lot of people crammed in a very small space. I always enjoy childbirth scenes, but this particular one was a very difficult one to film; interesting but just a bit cramped.

What else is going on with her?

Sister Julienne is always worried about Nonnatus House, although we're in a pretty good place financially, and she’s got ideas about the future. And the only other concern, as winter approaches, is Sister Monica Joan. Winter is tough – something you need to get through, and Sister Monica Joan feels she’s not going to get through it and won’t be there next year. She is very low, very depressed and it is up to Sister Julienne to help her see that there is no reason to believe these dark thoughts and that there is a great deal of vitality in her.

Trixie’s brother Geoffrey (Christopher Harper) returns after we met him at their wedding – what has that been like?

He's just such a lovely, fun character to have around – totally unpredictable. As an actor, Christopher is just great fun and we all just enjoyed his company. So, we're all very much hoping he'll appear again. It seems   he may be homeless when he arrives to stay with us. I don't know what the future might hold for that character, but it would be it would be lovely to see him again.

How Christmassy is this year’s special?

This is very much Christmas at home at Nonnatus, but it doesn't at all miss that whole magical sense of Christmas. It is quite a special Christmas for everybody. There is something in there which is going to be a surprise to everybody. It was a lovely surprise reading it. It's totally unexpected. There's quite a build up to it and I can say no more.



What does Christmas have in store for Trixie?

It's Matthew and Trixie’s first Christmas together with Jonty as a family, following their wedding. So, it's a very special time as it’s the first time that they've really come together as a family unit. Trixie’s brother is back for this episode and it was so much fun to continue that story. Christmas and Geoffrey just go together really well.

The show is now a Christmas Day staple – do you watch it on Christmas Day?

It's so special that we've become part of the Christmas Day TV menu. It means so much to us and people expect it now, which is a wonderful thing, but also a pressure as well to perform and to keep it as good as ever. And it's always a lovely thing when everybody sits down on Christmas Day and watches us and then, you know, chats throughout the evening about it. It's a very special thing.



Do you watch the Christmas special at home on Christmas Day?

My mother certainly does. I sort of drop in and out of the room and try not to watch anything with me in it.

What does Christmas have in store for your character?

Christmas is quite a hectic time for him. I think he’d like nothing more than to have a quiet family orientated Christmas with his wife and son, but things don’t quite turn out that way.

What is it like having Geoffrey there again?

Geoffrey is natural counter energy to Matthew and so it’s fun to do scenes with Chris (the actor who plays him) and watch Trixie be conflicted about whom to side with.

How Christmassy does it feel? Was it festive to film?

It’s always Christmassy. The show does that well every year and there is always a sense of occasion regardless of the fact it’s springtime. It’s also always the first thing we film, so everyone naturally comes to it with energy and excitement to be back and alongside one another again.

Was there fake snow? What was that like?

There’s always fake snow and its always somewhat nightmarish. It’s hard to dial in - so you’re either on a set that looks like a bubble bath or it’s not enough and you have to keep cutting and cranking the machine up. Glad it’s someone else’s responsibility and I just stand under it.



What happens to Dr. Turner in this Christmas episode?

The Call the Midwife Christmas specials always pack so much in – there is all the festive love and treats that you always expect but there's a lovely central storyline. Being as secret as I can be with it, the story is about somebody who society has rejected and how they have more to them than we think. It is about their struggles, their medical pains and their social pains which we try to help. It is incredibly moving and contains a beautiful central performance, which I think everyone will love. There is also a lot of action for Dr Turner which I think people will enjoy.

And is there snow?

I think people would be gutted if we didn’t have snow; this year there is a lot of snow and it matters. There is snow where it’s urgent, snow where its dangerous. And that involved us going down to the lovely dockyards in Chatham where we film many of our outside scenes and making it look snowy. We filmed the Christmas episode in the summer but they managed to convert these lovely Victorian streets, which stand in for Poplar, so that they looked freezing thanks to our brilliant crew who turned a sunny day into one which was misty, cold and dank.



What happens for Mrs. Turner this Christmas?

There are some really lovely Turner family things in the Christmas special. I just love how they decorate the house - it's just so beautiful. And there is a little bit of fun to be had with the presents that are requested as they are live creatures. And it's a snowy Poplar Christmas - that's always really special and lovely.

What else can you tell us about Christmas?

There is something quite spectacular that happens at the end. There is a surprise for a certain character that creates something very magical. And so, it's got all the ingredients - Cliff’s in his Santa suit and I'm in the delivery room for the Christmas special, which is always a treat. It's got a bit of everything, really.



Christmas always means Fred in a Santa suit, what else can we expect?

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat and Fred is putting on his Santa hat. He's back again - or at least I am - for the 21st year. I think I've been Santa on the BBC for 21 years on Christmas Day – first in EastEnders and now Call the Midwife. So, I am BBC Santa. Fred puts the kit on and charges around doing his normal antics, giving out presents and visiting people and cheering them up in hospital.

What was it like filming it?

It is always funny to have snow in June. We are wearing gloves and hats and Wellington boots, completely sweating but we are pretending we are cold.



Do you watch the Christmas special at home on Christmas Day?

Yes – with family and friends.

What do you think makes this Christmas special different? Is there any particular theme?

It’s quite different from the others – in a lovely way…..and some super sets that are amongst the most beautiful I think I’ve been part of..

What are you most excited about in this year’s Christmas special?

I like hearing what the public I meet think about it – I love their comments and insights – it really enriches it for me.

What is it like having Geoffrey there again?

He’s great fun off and on set – I love him.

How Christmassy does it feel? Was it festive to film?

When we have all the snow, the set and costumes it makes you feel excited through stint of association. It’s always fun to film because the set and costumes transport you into a sort of ‘Elf’ reality temporarily - plus I like Cliff in his Father Christmas outfit! And the fake snow was beautiful.

How special does it feel that the Call the Midwife Christmas episode is now an established festive tradition?!

I feel very honoured and touched to be part of it – as so many people love it and look forward to it.



What is Christmas like for Nancy this series?

There were lots of different facets of Christmas for Nancy. There's Nancy as a midwife. And then there was Nancy as a mum, which was lovely, because she ends up moving her daughter Colette into Nonnatus House. And they set up the flat really nicely. The moment we filmed it was actually the first time the two of us saw it; so, you get that real surprised look on our faces. It was very sweet – gorgeous.

And then also there's two lovely mothers in the Christmas episode. One is already a mother and she knows what she's doing. And then the other one, it's her first child and it's been a rockier road for her to get there. There are some lovely scenes between the two of them. But then we have a moment where some babies come a little bit too quickly.

And any other storylines in the episode?

Something else lovely about Christmas is a relationship that sort of develops between Sister Monica Joan and Collette. Sister Monica Joan has been slightly morbid about her time left on the planet. And myself and Collette come up with something that kind of gees her spirits up a little bit around Christmas, which is nice.



How is this Christmas for Cyril?

It kind of rocks Cyril’s world because he is confronted with a dire situation. It is to do with social housing, and people losing their homes, or people holding onto things that they can’t let go of. And these people aren’t waifs and strays – they have contributed to society, to the war effort. It is hard for Cyril to see what is happening up close and personal.

His faith in Jesus is what helps him to try and touch base with the people who have less than he does. He can see what is wrong and he wants to be able to fix it, even though he can’t do much. This dire situation really affects him and changes his understanding of life in England.

It doesn’t sound that Christmassy – was it?

Yes, super Christmassy because it was cold. Really cold. There was a lot of snow that they used and they were blowing it on the car, the director kept saying, ‘More snow! More snow!’ It was lovely.

Cyril has warm clothes, all the knitwear and a new hat. Cyril also gets a new friend – his name is Nigel and he’s a little kitty. He finds him on the streets when everyone has been evicted and he takes a liking to Cyril who brings him food. And he becomes a permanent fixture.

Do you watch the Christmas special?

Of course – well I watch from the back of the room when my family are watching it. They really love it and are super proud of me. So, they say, ‘we have to watch it’. I like that it brings everyone together. It’s the Queen’s Speech – now the King’s Speech, and then us.



What happens to Sister Veronica this Christmas?

She is doing her health visitor work and tackling housing issues. People are moving slowly from Victorian slum housing, overcrowded and difficult living conditions into council housing. And there’s one particular gentleman who's struggling with a very bad living environment and I don't know if I can say more than that…

Does she have much to do with Sister Monica Joan this Christmas?

Yes, in the episode, Sister Monica Joan, as she is wont to do, announces that this Christmas will be her last. And we all work very hard to cheer up her spirits to make it memorable, just in case it is. And Sister Veronica is quite central to that as well.

Will you be watching the Christmas special on Christmas Day?

I will absolutely watch the Christmas special and I will make everyone around me watch it. Unfortunately, it coincides with putting my children to bed and I can never quite get them down in time. So I will watch it later, on iPlayer. I’ve never managed to watch a single episode go out live, but I will watch it.