Call the Midwife 3 Q&A with Camilla Cholmeley-Browne, a.k.a. Chummy


Who better to follow the ‘Ladies of Downton’ at the Television Critic’s Association summer meet-up in LA but Camilla Cholmeley-Browne, a.k.a. Chummy, a.k.a. Miranda Hart. Since the series is now in production on series 3, saying that it’s just like riding a bike takes on a different meaning to Hart, who plays the clumsy and lovable character, Chummy, on the hit BBC/PBS period drama. According to Hart, getting back into character has been a bit easier than Chummy’s mastery of the preferred two-wheeled mode of transportation in post-World War East London, “In the everyday sense, picking up on the show has been without wobbles and crashes — thankfully.
 
Chummy learns to ride a bike in Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife, based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, revolves around a group of midwives and nuns at the nursing convent Nonnatus House. Season 3 of “Call the Midwife” is set to roll out in the UK on BBC One in early 2014 before making its U.S premiere on PBS soon thereafter. Word is that the Christmas Special, which is currently being shot in London, will be set 4 months after the end of series 2 and the start of series 3 will be six months after the end of series 2.

Hart sat down with the Los Angeles Times to talk Call the Midwife, Doctor Who and Chummy, of course…

You’ve started production on Season 3–

Yeah, we just started. We’re actually filming the Christmas episode first — naturally, when we’re having a hot week in London. We have to have summer now when I’m in wool and tweed, scarves, coats and gloves. Lovely.

Is it weird to go into this season, in that it’s reached the point where the show has run out of stories from Jennifer’s memoir?

I was a little worried, initially, but it was a seamless transition. We don’t get the scripts in advance, so we’re kind of seeing how things are turning out as we go along. There doesn’t seem to be a jolt of difference. And I think she always had to make up some things — not necessarily big stories, but to create the television world of it. But, no, the main creator and writer Heidi Thomas has continued the great stories and has made them feel part of the word. There are still a few Jennifer stories going on in Season 3, a few.

And we’re in 1959 now!

Yes, 1959! We’re about to hit the ‘60s. I’m scared for Chummy. I don’t know how Chummy will cope with that. She’d be like [clutches her collar], “Oh, gosh. I’m not sure about this.”

A lot is happening. Contraception is being mentioned — it hasn’t in the scripts I read, but they’re probably hearing more of that at work. One of the mothers who’s about to give birth wanted to give birth in a hospital — and even that was quite shocking. It was like, “What do you mean you want to go to a hospital? We’re fine at home with just us. What do you mean you want a doctor?” Things are shifting health-wise, medically …. But in terms of gearing up for swinging ‘60s — no way. We’re very pure. We might go to a jazz club, and that’s already pushing it.

I sort of love that simple, calm way of life. I kind of wish I was there. It was more peaceful and less frantic. People didn’t live on their iPhones. They weren’t trying to communicate all the time or work all the time. They were incredibly hard-working and had amazing jobs, but their home life and community life was very simple.

How about Chummy’s style — are we going to see that change as new fashions are introduced?

You might see some new Chummy outfits in Series 3 because she’s a mom. She has her confidence as a woman. There’s tweed suits. The costume designer was like, “Let’s see her grow as a woman.” Before she was so gangly and awkward. She’s got these dreadful slacks that made me feel like Charlie Chaplin. 1950 slacks, can I just say, are not a good look. The sexy girls on the show are fine — they’ve got these sleek styles — a bit like we wear now. Chummy has got these massive, flannel Charlie Chaplin-like pants. It’s like, thanks costume guys, thank you so much.

Well, in the Season 2 finale, we see Chummy give birth. Was it weird to be the woman giving birth, rather than the woman helping to deliver a baby?

Luckily, I didn’t have a full-on birth — it’s weird that I’m happy she got sick, isn’t it? But, yeah, she ended up at the hospital. It wasn’t a yay moment for the story line, but it was a yay moment for me as an actress. The girls found it hilarious, though, that I now had to be the one doing contraction noises. I didn’t want to even do them until we were on set. I remembered when I did, they all laughed at me.

Chummy went from barely being able to ride a bike to having a kid. That’s quite a journey.

I know! I’m so pleased with the curve of the story lines. I think people have really warmed to her character, and they want her to win and see her do well. She has had quite the journey, and now she has a baby. She loves being a mom. What’s great about the character’s being based on real-life stories is you know their background a bit. The fact that Chummy had this quite tough upper-class upbringing with not much emotion going on makes me think she is so in love with this baby because she’s pouring all the love she needed and never had into him.

It’s quite difficult to act, though, with somebody else’s baby. Because you don’t know them and they’re wriggling around. You’re actually going “Stop it!” I wore a necklace — Chummy wears a cross — and the baby kept grabbing it. I was like, “How do I make him stop?” And then the poor mother is off to the side going, “My son!” But I have yet to drop a baby. In fact, no one has ever dropped a baby on set — at least not that I know of.

But it was very emotional for me to watch her reach this point. To be a mother — it’s a huge turning point for her. And it’s interesting to get in that skin, to see how she navigates this new world.

Look for the Christmas episode to premiere on either Christmas or Boxing Day on BBC One an not too many days after on PBS in the States with series 3 set for early 2014 on both sides of the pond.

  • Ashley Shinn

    aw, yay, thank you!! great way to kick off Friday. I love Miranda Hart. and I have to thank YOU for that, because I had never seen her until KERA started airing Miranda a year or so ago. great show. thank you! 😀

  • Carrie Nance

    I love Miranda Hart, too. Call the Midwife is such a great show. Her eponymous comedy show is a treasure.