‘Call the Midwife’ Christmas Special Tests the Caregivers’ Skills

Jenny Agutter as Sister Julienne and Linda Bassett as Nurse Phyllis pushing a car in the snow in Call the Midwife Christmas 2017
Jenny Agutter as Sister Julienne, Linda Bassett as Nurse Phyllis

And you thought last winter was rough. Historical medical drama Call the Midwife’s Christmas special is set during the Big Freeze of 1963, a period of cold in the U.K. that began with a massive blizzard on the day after Christmas in 1962. Temperatures dropped well below freezing at a time when most homes in the country didn’t have central heating. No surprise, the weather immediately impacts the women of Nonnatus House (including Jenny Agutter’s Sister Julienne and Linda Bassett’s Nurse Phyllis) and their economically disadvantaged patients.

“All our caregivers have to band together to make sure the show is kept on the road,” series creator Heidi Thomas explains. “They’re put out of their clinic facilities and have to visit all their expectant mums in a pub. They have trouble with transportation. And the toilet freezes, which becomes a terrible crisis.”

Even with the frigid conditions, at least one storyline will provide some holiday warmth: a young couple having their first child. Teases Thomas, “It’s very much a story that reflects the true meaning of Christmas.”

Call the Midwife Christmas Special, Monday, Dec. 25, 9/8c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)