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BBC Drama About Young Midwives Takes on Universal Healthcare

By Madeline Holler |

call the midwife, downton abbey

A BBC drama premiering on PBS this fall, "Call the Midwife" has plenty of births and a whole lotta love for universal access to healthcare.

PBS is importing another BBC drama and one that scored even higher ratings in the U.K. than the super popular Downton Abbey. From the previews and press that it’s gotten already, Call the Midwife sounds like it could be another runaway hit on this side of the Atlantic as well. It’s another period drama, but this time set in the 1950s and ’60s, right after the nation’s now-beloved National Health Service was implemented.

Sure, it will have all the excitement that comes with stories about births, but what could also be interesting is seeing the possibilities of what universal access to healthcare services might look like. Seems the U.S. is having a hard time imagining how all that could work out.

Alyssa Rosenberg, writing for Think Progress, says this about the series:

It’s a show about what it means for young women who aren’t yet having their own families, and who received their training in modernized hospitals, to deliver the babies of women who have much more experience in the ways of childbirth than their midwives do, and to do so in environments of extreme poverty because their patients mistrusted hospital care.

But it’s also a story about what it meant to be able to provide serious, personalized care for the first time in the immediate aftermath of the implementation of the National Health Service. Midwives made house calls, returned multiple times a day to check on the condition of frail infants, and would keep coming back as long as they were needed.

Call the Midwife follows the stories of a group of young women who have trained to be midwives and work with Anglican nuns in London’s poverty-stricken East End. There’s apparently lots of old-fashioned birth things, like the indignities of enemas and shaving pubic hair of laboring women. But as one of the actresses in the series, Jessica Raine, says, it also champions the NHS.

I’m still catching up on Season 2 of Downton, but, frankly, I am even more excited about this.

Here’s a preview:

Watch Call the Midwife – Tease on PBS. See more from Call the Midwife.

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About Madeline Holler

madeline-holler

Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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