Strengths: Beautiful photographs and interesting history.
Weaknesses: I haven’t seen Series Two, but I couldn’t spot any spoilers.
Why I read it: Christmas present
Rating: 9 out of 10
For some strange reason, I always like reading books about television programmes in January. Is it because there’s nothing to actually watch on TV then? A plan to reminisce over previous series? Getting ready for the new season? Who knows? This year I went off my usual Top Gear track and received the companion book to one of the most delightful series of the series, Call the Midwife. (Due to all the ad breaks, I simply couldn’t stomach Downton Abbey when it was on).
Call the Midwife is a deceptively simple series – that of a group of midwives in 1950s London – that touches the heart with its stories of life, love and friendship against a backdrop that our parents and grandparents still remember. It’s not completely rose tinted, for the series is set in a poorer part of the East End (Poplar), but there’s more good parts than sad. The series came from a real life memoir by Jennifer Worth (you can read my review here) and there is a detailed diary where the writer and author of this book, Heidi Thomas, meets with Jennifer during the development of the series. (Jennifer – or Jenny Lee in the series – initially thought of casting Miranda Hart as Chummy, which was a fantastic move!)
You’ll learn all this and more as the book takes you through the first idea for a TV series to the green light for the second series. It’s a fascinating insight into the TV world behind the screen, where things seem to move dreadfully slowly. There are also interviews with both the characters and the cast, as to be expected. But this book goes into much more than the series and is quite an interesting read on life in the 1950s. Many topics are covered, including the inception of the National Health Service (not as boring as it sounds!), food, fashion, medicine, religion and what life was like in Poplar. I literally could not put it down!
The hardcover was also incredibly pretty under the dustcover – it’s cream with the insignia of a nursing college. Well done to all who worked on this book – it’s both a written and visual feast.