Call the Midwife celebrates the very best of womanhood

PUBLISHED: 17:40 21 January 2019

Call the Midwife celebrates women - don't miss the new series on BBC1 on Sunday nights at 8pm-  Nurse Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE) - (C) Neal Street Productions - Photographer: BBC

Call the Midwife celebrates women - don't miss the new series on BBC1 on Sunday nights at 8pm- Nurse Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE) - (C) Neal Street Productions - Photographer: BBC

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Call the Midwife may be a lot about vaginas - to the horror of some men - but it is a true celebration of women of substance, says Liz Nice

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh leave Sandringham church. Photo: Sonya DuncanThe Queen and Duke of Edinburgh leave Sandringham church. Photo: Sonya Duncan

I spent the weekend with my friend, James, who is not a fan of Call the Midwife.

‘Too much about vaginas,’ he shudders. ‘Who wants to see all that?’

Men, I find, are generally not so keen on the business end of the birthing process.

They worry that once they have seen what a vagina can really do, what most mothers would consider to be its greatest achievement (bowling balls come to mind), they might not be so interested in the other opportunities it offers.

I suspect that there are some who are already putting down this newspaper in disgust, purely because I have dared to use the word at all.

But Call the Midwife is that rare thing; a celebration of the best of womanhood, showing women working together in sisterhood for the good of each other.

I was talking to my sister-in-law, Jo, at the weekend in fact about the so-called feud between The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex.

‘Do you think it’s true?’ she asked.

I replied that I hoped not, because I feel the two of them should stick together, and, as Jo pointed out, ‘There’s nothing the newspapers (and men, I added) like more than two women at each other’s throats.’

There’s no denying that women compete.

Now that I am single, I have had more than one experience of being talked to by someone else’s husband, only to find his wife hastening to his side, clearly under the impression that I might be after him (he should be so lucky).

But generally, when pressed, women will support each other and are foolish when we don’t.

Call the Midwife shows this, as this week’s powerful episode showed in spades.

The support the nuns and midwives offered to the poor girl who had undergone a backstreet abortion was unquestioning – I couldn’t help but wonder if all the nuns really would have been so un-judgemental in such circumstances, but it was nice to see a presentation of exactly how such a horrific experience should be handled, even if it probably wasn’t always.

Meanwhile, Annette Crosbie’s performance as a former suffragette who had endured hunger strikes but was now incapable of living on her own was breathtaking, and offered that rare thing in television; something to take away with you into your own life; something that makes you feel that, whatever you might be facing at this time, you too can go on.

There have been a lot of changes in my life lately and I am about to embark on a new life with my children, alone.

I haven’t lived by myself as an adult since my student days and I feel a bit like Crosbie’s Miss Millgrove who asked, ‘What will become of me? I know nowhere else’.

But as I watched Miss Millgrove walking proudly out of the front door she knows so well and finally stepping into the unknown, I was heartened by the words of adorable midwife Lucille, who told her, ‘A woman of substance can live anywhere’.

The scriptwriters of Call the Midwife present women at their best, while helping those of us who are watching at the same time with the many challenges we face.

As sister Julienne reminded nurse Valerie this week, ‘midwife’ actually means ‘with women’. It’s just a TV programme, and yet, it really is.

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