In another heart wrenching episode, we were taken back to Poplar where the new fangled import of baby formula from the USA is causing consternation. It is symptomatic of the general feeling at the time that still expected men to be providers and women to be nurturers but the formula represents independence from the stiff structure of breastfeeding ( of course it had to be done behind closed doors and out of the sight of father)
Young Mother (Jessie Cave who played Lavender Brown in Harry Potter) Connie Miller has been forced to wear plastic cups to try to correct her inverted nipples. Brusque and strident as ever, Sister Evangelina has spoken out against the use of formula at the antenatal clinic and her manner brooks no argument against the maxim that “Breast is best”. When the poor lady is unable to feed her child and her sweet and loving husband (whose joyful enthusiasm at the birth, broke Sister Evangeline's protocol of keeping Dad out of the birthing room) comes to fetch assistance, we realise the baby has become dangerously dehydrated, and she left bleeding from repeated attempts at trying to get the baby to feed, a confrontation is needed.
Sweet and softly spoken Cynthia takes sister Evangeline to task in the most passive and gentle way and the deceptively soft hearted older stateswoman of Nonatus House, is left questioning her calling and and service to God and so makes the painful decision to embark on a retreat to a silent order so she can learn to listen better.
Sister Monica Joan is distraught at the loss and her reaction is so tender and sweet trying to unpack the suitcase even as things are placed inside.
Johnny Beckett and his wife are in a very difficult patch. Barbara is worried about the blood pressure of the expectant mother. Johnny’s Docker career has foundered as he seems unable to hold down the job, unable to obtain shifts, he finally pawns his Dockers hook to pay for a nice pram. She accuses him of laziness and throws him out when he confesses he has been camping out in the pub, pretending to be at work.
Barbara and handsome Vicar Tom bond further when she seeks advice on how to handle the situation, but matters take their own turn when Johnny collapses and Doctors give the worst prognosis; that Johnny has leukaemia and has days to live. A bold decision is made to induce labour early so that he might see his child.
Phyllis has decided to broaden her horizons and makes a new man friend at her Spanish class. She is charmed by widower Tommy Smith and even asks Trixie and the girls to help her with a little bit of make up. Sadly it become apparent that in actual fact his wife is still living, but with senile dementia and has not recognised Tommy for some years. He never meant to hurt Phyllis as the Spanish Class is his only joy and whilst the friendship is severely dented, I believe it is not entirely broken as home help is arranged to help The Smiths manage better and she attends the flamenco show arranged by the class.
“Call the Midwife” is a shining example of what Sunday night drama should be. It really is a shame that Pam Ferris is leaving the series as the interactions between Sister Evangeline and Dotty but utterly loveable Sister Monica Joan ( Judy Parfitt) have been both comic gold and deeply moving, the Christmas Special in particular was a showcase for the considerable acting talents of both.
The rest of the cast is strong and the burgeoning Romance between Barbara and Tom is some recompense to my Little soft heart ( I still think he would have been the making of Trixie, but Barbara is a much better fit).
The show maintains it’s grittiness, showcasing the hardships of an East End life in the 1960s without losing the emotionally arresting sentimentality and sweetness which has made it a firm favourite with audiences globally. A soft and gooey centre is assured even in the most challenging scenario, but what could be better as we ease into a new week?