Thankfully, Mad Men is set in the 60’s putting an end to inconceivable bandwagon-jumping comparisons between the hit AMC series and the upcoming BBC series, Call the Midwife. The series, which will focus on the joys and hardships of a group of midwives working in London’s East End in the 50’s is definitely not your typical Sunday evening fare, no matter what side of the pond you’re on. Followers of the more traditional series such as Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs, Spooks, etc. will now be treated to childbirth 1950s-style and all that implies, including bedpans, surgical gloves and cries of pain.
The series, set for a 2012 broadcast, is based on a trilogy of million-plus selling books of the same name, Call the Midwife, a memoir written by the late Jennifer Worth. Worth died at the age of 75 just before filming for the BBC1 drama began, but not before she had worked closely with screenwriter, Heidi Thomas, who also adapted the hit serial Cranford for the BBC. In addition to Thomas, the series boasts an incredible talent pool on both sides of the camera adding Eve Stewart, who earned an Oscar nomination for production design on The King’s Speech and has recreated East End street scenes for the series.
The front of the camera is no different with what reads as a who’s who of female talent drawn from several generations of British stars – including Vanessa Redgrave, Pam Ferris, Jenny Agutter and Miranda Hart.
On the surface, this may initially scream female audience only and ‘not for men’. But, good drama is good drama and as Heidi Thomas put it when asked if she thought men would watch: “They may well watch, but people don’t ask whether enough women will watch Top Gear.” I’m guessing it will do just fine with both demographics.
No word as of yet on a 2012 transmission date on the BBC or when/if this will make it to the States as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series.