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Series / Call the Midwife

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"Nonnatus House, midwife speaking!"

A BBC series created by Heidi Thomas and based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife follows a group of midwives and nuns working in London's poverty-stricken East End in the late '50s and early '60s. The series received a virtual confetti shower of glowing reviews praising everything from its gritty storylines to its handling of women's issues, with the Radio Times citing it as "the torchbearer of feminism on television."

Characters include Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine), the lead character; Jenny's fellow nurses, clumsy but lovely Chummy (Miranda Hart), quietly sweet Cynthia (Bryony Hannah), and bubbly glamour girl Trixie (Helen George); the nuns of Nonnatus House, spirited, saintly nun-in-charge Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), snarky and hard-nosed Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris), gentle, young, dedicated Sister Bernadette (Laura Main), and possibly-senile, possibly-profound, elderly Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt); Fred Buckle (Cliff Parisi), the good-natured handyman; and Dr Patrick Turner (Stephen McGann), the compassionate local physician who works with Nonnatus House.


Later additions include adorably dorky Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates), briskly lively Patsy Mount (Emerald Fennell), sweet-but-naive Barbara Gilbert (Charlotte Ritchie), gruff veteran nurse Phyllis Crane (Linda Bassett), local curate Tom Hereward (Jack Ashton), shy, competent Delia Busby (Kate Lamb), experienced Army nurse Valerie Dyer (Jennifer Kirby), and the sweetheart West Indian transplant Lucille Anderson (Leonie Elliott). Weaving in and out of all these characters' lives are the colourful working-class folk who populate the district of Poplar.

The programme debuted in January 2012, and began airing its fifth series in 2016 — by which time it had already been renewed for a sixth. The show's popularity has made it a Long Runner: as of the tenth series in 2021, the programme has been renewed through a thirteenth series set to air in 2024.


This series provides examples of:

  • Abortion Fallout Drama:
    • A later episode followed Nora Harding's increasingly desperate attempts to induce abortion. Her story was played utterly for sympathy — she already had eight children and could hardly afford to feed and shelter them as it was — and everyone who finds out are only worried that Nora will inadvertently hurt herself in her attempts to abort. The episode dealt with the issue of the invention of birth control, and how that would have saved her all of the heartbreak and stress she went through. Ultimately, Nora resorts to a back-alley abortion and nearly dies from septicemia. Sister Julienne tells Jenny that this is far from the first time she's dealt with the situation, and knows exactly what to tell the doctor so that the woman can get the necessary care without being arrested for an illegal abortion. The end of the episode discusses how birth control was brought about soon enough that the woman's daughters and granddaughters were spared the same ordeals.
    • Another episode features a teenage diabetic getting pregnant by what her mother considers an unsuitable lower class boyfriend. The mother pressures her to have an abortion for her health, as being a pregnant diabetic at that time was very dangerous, but she wants to keep the baby. She and the father run away together, only for her to get terribly sick. When they're found, the mother puts her in the hospital to have the abortion. It's portrayed pretty tragically for everyone.
    • Yet another has a woman desperately seeking one as she and her husband already have two and don't want anymore. Indeed, she dies from septicemia. As this is the second such incident in as many episodes (the first woman didn't die, but will never be able to have children), the nurses/nuns suspect the same person is responsible and vow to find them before they kill or maim anyone else.
    • In series 5, an unmarried teacher loses her job and her flat because of the stigma against unmarried mothers. Her married boyfriend abandons her. So she self aborts with a coat hanger. This ends exactly as well as you'd expect.
    • In Series 7, the Turners' au pair, Magda, asks Nurse Valerie Dyer for help obtaining an abortion. Magda grew up in Hungary, where abortion was legal during this time period, and doesn't see it as a big deal. Valerie, on the other hand, refuses to even consider it. She urges Magda to come clean with the Turners and find a way to have the baby. Instead, Magda steals ergometrine from Nonnatus House and self-aborts. Fortunately, Sister Monica Joan realizes something is wrong and gets help in time to save Magda's life. Madga wanted Valerie to give her the name of someone who could give her a back street abortion. She refuses, on the grounds that she’d “seen too often seen what visiting these people leads to”. As in, the women who go to them are likely to end up dead or seriously ill or injured as a result of the practitioners lack of training, equipment or access to sterilisation equipment. Not necessarily because she is against abortions overall. She is shown in other episodes to be fairly liberal on similar topics in other episodes.
    • Later, in Series 8, Val is shocked when one of the local unlicensed providers of back alley abortions for desperate women turns out to be her grandmother, whom she has to report to the police when something goes wrong.
  • Actor Allusion: George Benson in Season 9 Episode 4, who keeps pigeons, has named one Dot.note 
  • Afraid of Doctors: Meg & Maeve Carter, of 2x03. And it isn't just doctors they hate; nurses, midwives, terrified medical orderlies bearing gifts...all personae non-gratae. They'd much rather have tarot cards and a 17th-century herbalist than any of your new-fangled nonsense. (Strangely enough, they change their minds after Maeve has twins, post-partum haemorrhage and a near-death experience and only survives thanks to modern medicine.)
  • Africa Is a Country: Zigzagged. In 2x02 we know Chummy is going to Sierra Leone, however, it's only mentioned by name twice in the episode, with all other instances referring to it as "Africa", including one reference in which it's used in the same sentence as Poplar.
  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • Dr. Turner and Sister Bernadette. Stephen McGann is nearly two decades older than Laura Main, and the age gap between the characters is similar. Surprisingly, this provides absolutely no angst for the pair; they're a bit too busy worrying about her status as a nun to bother with their age gap. It does, however, attract some negative/gossipy comments from patients after they marry, with one remarking: "He's years older than her. Gives me the creeps".
    • Winnie in 1x03 who marries Ted; an older man she likes as a person, but doesn't romantically love. She married him for the sake of her kids from a previous marriage and the fact that Ted is a good man who genuinely loves her.
    • Len and Conchita Warren in 1.01. He is a good deal older than she is and they married when she was a young teenager, which raises eyebrows amongst the nuns and midwives.
  • The Alcoholic: Trixie in the wake of her and Tom breaking off their engagement. She ends Series 4 in Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Almighty Janitor: Miss Millicent Higgins, the medical secretary for the maternity home and Dr Turner's surgery. She is even more ferociously protective of her neat and tidy records than the previous secretary (Patrick's notoriously organized wife Shelagh), and will not hesitate to boss Patrick, Shelagh, or any of the nurses around when it comes to record-keeping (or their general welfare).
  • Alternate Continuity: While many of the cases of the first two series are drawn directly from Jennifer Worth's memoirs, the television series is not a direct adaptation of the books, and aspects of the characters and their storylines have been changed.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • A literal example—In the 2014 Christmas special, Shelagh Turner is shopping for Christmas trees with Timothy, and he asks for a silver tree like the one his friend's family has. Shelagh opts for a real tree, but at the end of the episode, Patrick buys them a small silver tree.
    • The existence of the nuns, who are not Catholic but Anglican. Though the Church of England is historically associated with King Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, today the Church has several religious orders.
  • Amicable Exes: Trixie and Tom eventually become this, a realistically long time after Trixie calls off their engagement.
  • An Aesop: Mature Jenny is rather given to these. Lampshaded in the 2013 Red Nose Day special.
    The Whole Cast: NOT NOW, VANESSA REDGRAVE!!!
  • Anger Born of Worry: Sister Evangelina is quite prone to this trope. The more worried she is, the more she snaps.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Dr Turner manages a nonverbal one when he caves to long-brewing romantic affection and kisses Sister Bernadette's hand after she's scraped it. Every romantic moment they shared before then could have been explained away, but with that gesture, everything changed and there is officially no turning back. She implies that she returns his affection, but is forced to turn him down given that she's a nun and has made vows. He responds that if he "didn't accept that, he wouldn't deserve to live" and simply leaves as she watches him in near tears.
  • Anyone Can Die: Barbara's death comes pretty much out of nowhere.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Leaving her patient in 2x02 should have got Cynthia into a lot of trouble, and she was very lucky that no tragedy occurred between her leaving and her backup arriving, which meant that the whole incident could be dealt with quietly by Sister Julienne. Even so, her panic attack was completely understandable.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Sister Evangelina, despite sparring with her throughout the series, becomes distraught at the thought of potentially losing Sister Monica Joan to pneumonia in the Series 1 finale, and nurses her back to health.
  • Badass Cape: The nurses get new uniforms in season five complete with these, especially noticeable when they're riding on their bikes.
  • Based on a True Story: Originally, to a degree somewhere in between Dramatization and Very Loosely Based on a True Story. Since about Series 3 (when the source books ran out), it's simply very well-researched fiction.
  • Batman Gambit: Douglas Roberts pulls this on his wife in 2x04. Wanting to keep their baby, who has spina bifida, and not send him to St. Gideon's (the home for disabled children), he announces that they will take the baby there straight away and starts to refer to the baby as "it," knowing that will bother Ruby enough to want to keep the baby.
  • Battleaxe Nurse:
    • Sister Evangelina, but the goodhearted variety. She doesn't enjoy hurting her patients, but she has absolutely no issues doing so if it's for the patient's own good — and she doesn't have much sympathy for them, either.
    • Later on, Nurse Crane. Her first storyline is her butting heads with Sister Evangelina.
  • The Beard: Trixie admits to have served as one to a handsome young gentlemanly doctor "otherwise inclined" at one point. This is triggered by Sgt. Noakes arresting the husband of the Patient of the Week when he makes a move on a plainclothes copper in a gentlemen's convenience.
  • Beta Couple: The Happily Married Chummy and Peter to Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette during the second series.
  • Birds of a Feather:
    • Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette, both incredibly kindhearted healers devoted to a common cause and very much cut from the same cloth. The results are predictable. That whole 'nun' thing, however, proves a bit of a roadblock...
    • Patsy and Delia appear to be fairly similar. Patsy is very independent and brave, which people depend on and so it seems she depends on Delia for the same reason.
    • Tom Hereward and Barbara Gilbert are very similar in both temperament and lifestyle. He's a vicar, and she's a vicar's daughter and their shared dedication to the Church makes them eminently compatible (as Barbara knows exactly what the Church and its work mean to a clergyman). They fall in love, however, because they share similar values and outlooks on life, which largely consist in devotion to duty, true compassion for others (irrespective of religion), and a general sweetness of disposition.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Happens often. The most notable, though, is probably in Series 2, Episode 6, when Julia Masterson gives birth across the corridor from her father on his deathbed; he dies with his newborn grandson in his arms.
    • It actually becomes a plot point in Series 3 Episode 8, in which Jenny weighs up the appeal of delivering babies and nursing the terminally ill, and leaves to take up a job doing the latter. Also in that episode, a baby's birth is juxtaposed with the death of Chummy's mother.
    • Another very prominent instance is Series 5 Episode 8, which has a double whammer: first when Barbara and Sister Evangelina come home from a delivery and Sister Evangelina is found dead the next morning, having passed away during the night, and second when Noelle gives birth to her firstborn (at her wedding reception, no less), immediately followed by Sister Evangelina's funeral procession.
  • Black Sheep: Chummy and Sister Monica Joan are regarded this way by their respective upper class families, for working as midwives in the East End, not mention Chummy marrying a policeman and Sister Monica Joan becoming a nun.
  • Blatant Lies: "Well! That's all tickety-boo and marvellous!" says Dr Turner when he hears that Sister Bernadette is writing to everyone from the sanatorium except him. Especially since he'd already sent her half a dozen letters. It doesn't take a genius to see that absolutely nothing is 'tickety-boo and marvellous' in his world, especially since he spends the entire scene doing what can be most charitably described as 'moping'.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The trio of young nurses, once Patsy joins the main cast, with Cynthia and Barbara taking the brunette role respectively.
  • Blood from the Mouth: This is what alerts Dr Turner to the fact that there's a tuberculosis epidemic in Poplar. He manages to get the entire community an x-ray screening van to allow medical intervention before the disease turns fatal, but it gets personal when Sister Bernadette is diagnosed with TB. Fortunately, this was the age of antibiotics, and she lives.
  • Brand X: Averted, despite this being the BBC. In series two, episode one, a box of condoms is explicitly said to be a very reliable brand. The name on the box is very clearly Durex, which is still the UK's market leader in real life; it's actually genericised in much the same way Trojans are in the US, which is probably why it got past the BBC's ban on Product Placement.
    • Horlicks (see below) is also a branded product, as are Babycham (Trixie's tipple of choice) and The Glenlivet (which Chummy mentions by name in the second episode). And Nivea, and Brylcreem...
  • Bridezilla: Trixie gets so caught up in being a fiancée and all the trappings and parties and so on that she starts to teeter on the edge of this, getting into an angry argument with Tom late one night. Seeing him do a memorial service for a stillborn child made her realize that the trappings aren't important.
  • Bumbling Dad: Dr Turner can come off this way sometimes, albeit in his own lovable way. He manages to combine this at times with its polar opposite, the Standard '50s Father.
  • But Not Too Gay: Patsy and Delia are rarely seen doing more than briefly touching hands, and never share a kiss. In public, this is understandable, as homosexuality was still taboo in 1960; but even in private, the most we see is a kiss to the top of the head.
    • In one of their early scenes together, we see them spooning... fully clothed, through a duvet.
    • In the episode when Patsy leaves for Hong Kong, when they're saying goodbye, they go in for a kiss only for Fred to open the door at the very last second.
    • Finally averted when they reunite.
  • Call-Forward: From the very first episode, referencing some technology that had not yet become widely available at the time:
    Sr. Evangelina: There are between 80 and 100 babies born each month in Poplar. Soon as one vacates its pram, another one takes its place. And thus it was, and ever shall be, until such time as they invent a magic potion to put a stop to it.
    • As it happens, they invented that magic potion that very year—1957—but it wasn't approved for wide use for some time later.
  • Casting Gag: Pam Ferris has played a midwife before.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Sister Julienne has one. It's the smile she uses when she's oh-so-politely "asked" someone to do something, and it basically says, "You are going to do this thing, and you are going to like it. Or else."
  • Chickenpox Episode: A subplot of the series 11 premiere features the chicken pox doing the rounds, with all three younger Turner children coming down with it at once. The surprise is Sister Frances, who apparently never had it as a child and is sidelined for most of the episode as a result.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Notably averted. Sister Julienne and her fellow nuns are Anglican. The Anglican Communion really does have religious orders like the one depicted; the Order of St. Raymond Nonnatus is Jennifer Worth's fictional renaming of the Community of St. John the Divine.
  • Chocolate Baby: A classic case with the heartwarming twist that Ted, the husband, accepts what happened and dotes on his newborn son, even though the kid couldn't be any more obviously unrelated to him.
    • And then a more typical case, with the awful twist that the husband is jealous and prone to violence. The mother wants to go away to have the baby, and the midwives agree. She goes into labour too early, and the husband finds out. The baby is put up for adoption; the husband seems to take all this badly, but not as badly as feared.
  • Comfort Food: Well, Comfort Drink. Anything and everything can be solved or celebrated with a mug of Horlicksnote .
  • Composite Character: The Sister Bernadette of the television programme appears to also have elements of Novice Ruth, a character from the books who is not present in the adaptation.
  • The Confidant: Sister Julienne for Sister Bernadette, particularly during the second series. Unsurprising given that Julienne is essentially Bernadette's mother figure.
  • Costume Porn: There are some nice dresses, but most of the characters are too poor to afford really lovely clothes. Well either that or they're nuns.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Sister Monica Joan.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Mrs. Jenkins in the Christmas episode. Notably, once Sister Evangelina and Jenny are able to clean her up and persuade her to go to the doctor for her various medical problems, she becomes significantly more outwardly sane.
  • Creepy Physical: Averted and Played for Drama as Dr Turner has to conduct a physical on Sister Bernadette, with whom he is desperately (and mutually) in love, in order to confirm her diagnosis of tuberculosis. The UST is incredibly thick, he has to open her dress and put his stethoscope on the bare skin of her back and chest. All three hearts in that room — his, Bernadette's, and Sister Julienne's — are visibly breaking. Their desperate attraction only makes the situation worse, as not only can they not act on it due to Bernadette being a nun, but he is confirming a diagnosis that might very well be a death sentence. It's a true testament to how much he not only loves her, but respects her. He is absolutely, 100% professional during the exam and doesn't touch her more than necessary, despite the ridiculously powerful sparks flying between them.
  • Cry into Chest: After delivering her first stillborn, Patsy visits her girlfriend Delia and climbs into her bed, after crying into her chest and being comforted by a concerned looking Delia.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Timothy Turner, Dr Turner's son.
    • Sister Evangelina. All. The. TIME.
  • December–December Romance: Fred and the haberdasher Violet Gee in Series 4. Fred at least is over 50 (and a grandfather!), and Violet is probably about the same age. (Only a few months separate actors Cliff Parisi and Annabelle Apsion in real life; when this storyline was filmed, both were 55).
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Julia Masterson, from 2x06.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • It is considered merely strange that the family in the first episode has 24 kids (with the 25th on the way), not to mention that the husband apparently married the wife and brought her to England when she was 14. Sister Julienne even says that she might even have been younger than that, and in Real Life Jennifer Worth reckoned that Conchita was eleven or twelve when she left Spain.
    • Everyone, including doctors, nurses, and pregnant women, smokes. It's even a bonding moment for Sister Bernadette and Dr Turner after a hard delivery!
    • The resolution to Mary's story: her daughter is taken from her without her consent and put up for adoption, given that Mary is only 15, homeless, and both uneducated and untrained. This is portrayed by the priest as being the best possible outcome to her situation, but it still triggers a Heroic BSoD in Mary.
    • When the Redmond baby was abducted, no one apparently thought it was unusual that the mother left the baby outside and alone in her pram on the sidewalk of a busy street, while she herself stayed inside to do the laundry.
      • In 1950s Britain it wasn't uncommon for people to leave their babies in prams outside their houses while they did something inside. It wasn't necessarily something everyone did, but it was considered safe to do so by the people who did. It was taken as obvious that sleeping outdoors was good for children, and many houses had no yard or garden — it was also normal for children from poor areas to play in the street almost as soon as they could walk (there were very few cars and so many children played there it was assumed the older ones were watching.)
      • It was still not unusual in the late sixties for baby to be left to sleep, in a pram not dissimilar to the ones we see in CTM, on the front path looking out into the street. This was partly for the fresh air, partly because it decreased the likelihood of the baby waking up bumping up the steps and partly, it was said, because they'd have something to look at when they woke.
    • The Golly dolls that Sister Monica Joan knits are now almost universally recognised in Britain as an extremely regressive and stereotypical image of black people. Trixie refers to them as "Gollies" rather than "Golliwogs" since this was probably at the point when "wog" on its own started being used as a slur against Black people.
    • Sister Bernadette and Sister Julienne's respective conflicts between their religious calling and their romantic feelings might not have had the same outcome in modern times. The Church of England started ordaining women as vicars in 1994, so it's possible that they might have chosen that option if it had been available to them at the time.
    • In Season 4 Episode 3, the kindhearted Sergeant Noakes testifies against a man in court for homosexual behavior. Later Fred asks the same man to leave a community organization.
  • Delivery Guy: Allan Romaine is reluctant at first but rises to the challenge to help deliver the baby when his wife gives birth in 7x02.
  • Dies Wide Open: Mr. Masterson, in 2x06, dies this way, with his grandson in his arms.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Defied. When Chummy's mother is in her final illness, she mentions that people often refuse to mention its name. She more or less says that's for people with no backbone, says she has cancer, and says, "The beast is named."
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Sister Monica Joan's plea for compassion for the rats of Nonnatus in 4x03 ties in rather well with the episode's homophobia theme.
    Phyllis: Do forget about these blasted rats.
    Sister Monica Joan: But we are all God's creatures!
    Barbara: It's just that some are easier to love than others.
    Sister Monica Joan: It's the others that need us most.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Apparently, Jenny can't stand shellfish. Also, Sr Monica Joan literally does not like Spam.
  • Doomed New Clothes: Chummy's green and gold dress. Sacrificed to deliver piglets.
  • Double Standard: Sister Julienne reflects that a teacher who has been having an affair with a married man is paying the price for said affair more heavily than he is.
  • Dramatic Irony: In episode 4x08, Shelagh and Patrick are shown helping a patient with severe morning sickness by giving her a new "wonder drug", and both they and the patient are shown beaming from ear to ear as Patrick tells her the name of the drug the patient plans to tell all her pregnant friends about: it's called Thalidomide! It's heartbreaking because the Turners are sincerely trying to help, and the patient is thrilled. Little do they know what they have just done.
  • Dressed to Heal: Dr Turner. Becomes a plot point in 2x01 when the nurses gossip about how his lab coat is always losing buttons. Sister Bernadette sharply orders them to "show more respect to Doctor, please," in the first overt clue of her feelings for him. Even the nurses give a surprised look at her sudden tone. The episode ends with Bernadette carefully re-stitching the buttons after his medical shift is done.
  • Dr. Jerk: Mr Tracey, the surgeon at The London in 2x03. Portrayed somewhat sympathetically: he probably has Parkinson's, and that can affect temper.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • After months of heartache, a bout of tuberculosis, and the agony of love that couldn't be spoken as Bernadette was torn between her vows to God and the man she loved, all was said and settled in all of sixty seconds on the side of a foggy English country road. She said yes before she even knew his first name.
    • Patsy has a very tragic past but is seemingly happy in her love life (although that itself has some problems) and career.
  • Emotionally Tongue-Tied:
    • Neither Sister Bernadette nor Dr Turner can put their feelings into words. Dr Turner's I Kiss Your Hand (see below) is a declaration in and of itself, but Sister Bernadette is torn between her love for Dr Turner and her vows to God. Dr Turner loves her far too much to speak of it when she is so obviously struggling and says he simply respects her choice. Judging by the happy look on Sister Bernadette's face when she finally reads his letters while she's in the sanatorium, however, it seems that, at least in writing, he's un-tongue-tied himself.
    • Jane, basically all the time, but especially with The Reverend Appleby-Thornton.
  • End of an Age: The show covers, or at least hints at, a lot of aspects that will change things irrevocably for the people of the East End, and indeed society in general:
    • Some of the changes are good, such as the NHS, increased availability of painkillers that make birth much easier and the future invention of the Pill, allowing women at last to fully control their fertility, and thus their sexuality.
    • Some will be disastrous, like the impending clearing of the East End and moving residents to council flats (or Essex), the decrease in importance of midwives as the result of fewer births thanks to the Pill and, as outright stated in the show, the fact that fewer young women are choosing to become nuns each year, leading to the decline of nunneries.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: In the 2015 Christmas Special, when Nurse Crane starts musing about how home is the essence of Christmas, Sister Evangelina figures out that Sister Monica Joan has run away to her old home.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Bubbly, fun-loving glamour girl Trixie. Later subverted, in that the bubbly glamour girl grew up exaggerating her cheerful, sweet personality to help her father cope with his PTSD and became something of a Stepford Smiler—and eventually an alcoholic—in the process.
  • Everybody Smokes: Pretty much all the characters (except, with one significant exception, for the nuns) have a casual smoke every so often — it's even a bonding moment for Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette, who share a smoke after a particularly difficult delivery. He does seem a bit surprised when she takes him up on his offer, but it's likely that's only because he's never seen her (or, again, any of the nuns) smoke before. Justified, though, given the time period.
    • Timothy's attempts to make them both quit become a plot point in series 5.
    Dr Turner: We're like an officer and a sergeant the morning after the Somme! And that's not to say I see myself as the officer. [takes a smoke] I feel as though I should offer you one.
    Sister Bernadette: Just a puff.
    Dr Turner: Of this?
    Sister Bernadette: Quickly, just a wee one. [takes a puff] What kind are these?
    Dr Turner: [watching her admiringly] Henleys.
    Sister Bernadette: Oh, Henleys! I loved Henleys. They were the kind my father used to smoke. I used to sneak one out of his desk sometimes when I was about fourteen. [hands back] Thank you.
    Dr Turner: You've earned it.
  • Everyone Can See It:
    • Everyone notices what's going on between Chummy and Constable Noakes. Except, unfortunately, the two people involved. Luckily, Sister Evangelina gets rather exasperated and solves the whole matter.
    • Subverted and inverted with Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette. The pair of them know perfectly well what's going on, but their outward expressions are so restrained that among the other characters, only Sister Julienne seems to pick up on the intense romantic feelings blossoming between them. The audience can see it quite easily, but the other characters — not so much.
  • Facial Dialogue: Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette are past masters at this, saying volumes without speaking a word. Most notably, when he asks her to marry him, her answer is completely nonverbal — the word 'YES!' is blazing on her face to the point where words are entirely superfluous. He simply puts the ring on her finger after presenting it to her.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Shelagh gets one in the 2013 Christmas special, after a near-brush with a very neat but not at all bridal grey suit. Snow-white, poofy skirt, lace sleeves, a chiffon veil — she ticks all the boxes.
    • Averted for Chummy at the end of Series 1. After delivering triplets—and being forced to shed more and more of her uniform to clothe the babies—she wearily rides to the police station and informs Peter that under her coat, she is "practically naked." She calls her mother the next day to inform her that the wedding is on again. She also insists that the wedding dress be simple, "preferably Crimplene." Her mother asks if at least the wedding dress will be white, and she replies with a smile: "Sorry, Mater. No longer entitled."
    • Also qualifies with Barbara's wedding dress, though instead of a veil it has a gorgeous white cloak.
  • Family of Choice: The nuns and midwives appear to have little family between them, and certainly not nearby. They act as each other's family, the nurses often like sisters to one another.
    • Outright stated in series 2 when Chummy nearly dies in labor- one character laments that her family is so far away that they don't know that she's ill, and Jenny replies "Yes they do. Hr family is here."
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Jenny Agutter's eyebrows deserve their own award for all the acting they do — Sister Julienne can snark up a storm while her words are never anything less than unfailingly polite.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Jack was inveterately mean to Chummy until she helped his mother give birth in the second episode, relying on him for important duties. After that, he became her chief helper, particularly in the Cub Scout pack.
    • Similarly, in Series 2 Episode 7, Mrs Bailey was extremely rude and racist toward Mrs Hyde, but when Mrs Hyde saved Mrs Bailey from a nasty fall and Mrs Bailey helped Mrs Hyde get to Nonnatus House when Sr Monica Joan's senility kept the actual midwives from showing up, they're shown to have substantially better relations.
  • First-Name Basis: Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette, after their Relationship Upgrade. Let it be noted that the first thing they bothered to establish after she'd been released from the sanatorium was that they are, in fact, certain they're desperately in love with each other. Then they told each other their first names — Patrick and Shelagh.
  • A Foggy Day in London Town: A few examples. The prime example is the very first episode, set during the smog of 1957 (one of the last, and the worst one since the 1952 Great Smog), Jenny's first patient, Conchita Warren, trips over one of her children's toy fire engines while trying to hang the washing in the garden amidst the pea soup. A concussion and premature delivery result.
  • Friendship Moment: Quite a few between Dr Turner and Sister Julienne, who are not just colleagues but old and solid friends.
  • Frilly Upgrade: A non-magical example happens at the start of series 5, when the nurses receive new uniforms.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Patsy gives Tom dancing lessons and is later confronted by a jealous Trixie, the scene foreshadows a later reveal that Patsy is a lesbian and has a girlfriend, Delia.
    Patsy: With the greatest respect, Tom isn't my type. At all.
    Trixie: [a little insulted] What do you mean by that?
    Patsy: (...) there are certain things he lacks, and certain things he has too much of. For me. [looks slightly concerned or annoyed]
    • Later, Patsy's lesbian storyline is foreshadowed once more, as she tells Trixie that having a boyfriend is not that important, seemingly not to her, especially.
    • Earlier in the season 2 finale, Jenny makes a comment about liking the star cluster the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, because she liked the idea of "a cluster of girls all clinging to each other in the heavens". Later, while Chummy is having complications while in labour, seven of the Nonnatus women are silently sewing quilt squares together while waiting for any news.
    • A positive version in the Series 1 finale: When Chummy throws her bouquet after her wedding, Trixie catches it. Of the other Nonnatus midwives (who aren't nuns), Trixie is the next to find someone. Well, technically Jenny is, but he dies before he gets a chance to propose.
  • Functional Addict: Trixie's love for the bottle becomes increasingly obvious over time, but she manages to keep it together most of the time. It's only toward the end of Series 4 that it interferes with her life and work.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: Shows up from time to time, when one of the men (most typically Fred) runs into one of the nurses in their dressing gowns; there's also a rather amusing incident when Peter walks into the kitchen to complain about a nun holding up the bathroom while Trixie is in her dressing gown and wearing a thick layer of mask cream.
  • Gayngst: Patsy and Delia risk their jobs and reputations if anyone finds out they are dating. They cannot touch too much in public; Patsy seems to especially fear what might happen if they get caught, whereas Delia longs for the freedom to be open about their relationship.
    • Things get worse in 4x08, when Delia is hit by a car and Patsy is unable to visit her in hospital as next of kin. When she finally does get to see her, Delia doesn't recognise her anymore due to brain damage. To top it all off, Delia's parents are taking her home to Wales to care for her, and Patsy may never see her again.
    • Season Five has Patsy slowly becoming more comfortable with her sexuality as part of her character development. Although she still is terrified of people finding out, and struggles to show affection, Delia- who, in what would be a frustrating, soap-operaish Unexplained Recovery if it weren't so deserved has recovered and regained her memory- is slowly drawing her out of her shell and helping her feel safer. One of the final episodes even has Delia taking Patsy to a gay pub, where they get to dance together, not in their heads.
  • Geeky Turn-On: A large part of the attraction between Patrick and Shelagh is their brilliant medical minds. In episode 4x03, Shelagh sets about deducing the source of a dysentery epidemic; the look on Patrick's face when she finds it and shares her conclusions can only be described as, "You are so hot right now." It gets even more explicit a couple of episodes later, when Shelagh turns up in a nurse's uniform for the first time ever (having worn the habit in her pre-marriage career) and he looks like he'd quite rather like to scoop her up and take her to bed that minute.
  • Given Name Reveal: As the nuns chose their convent names when they joined, their birth names are almost never used in-series, but were revealed at a rate of 1 per season for Seasons 1-4. Breaking the pattern, we did not learn anyone's given name in Season 5 (though Season 4 had something of an additional inverted reveal, when Cynthia returns from postulant training, now known as Sister Mary Cynthia).
    • Sister Monica Joan's is Antonia.
    • Sister Bernadette's is Shelagh.
    • Sister Evangelina's is Enid.
    • Sister Julienne's is Louise.
    • Also Dr Turner and former Sister Bernadette. They don't learn each other's first names (Patrick and Shelagh) until they're at the side of the road declaring their love for each other.
  • God Before Dogma: Sister Julienne and her fellow nuns live this trope, caring far more about helping their patients as best they can than about passing judgment on them. Sister Julienne in particular makes her opinion very clear when Jenny lets her upper-middle-class morality get in the way of doing her job, and that opinion can be charitably phrased as "Get over yourself."
    • Although Sister Winifred never allows her feelings to get in the way of helping her patients, she does betray a slightly judgmental attitude when she visits a brothel to take care of a pregnant prostitute in 4x04, and a rather more judgmental attitude towards an unmarried teacher who is pregnant by her married boyfriend in 5x03, which leads to a My God, What Have I Done? on Winifred's part.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion:
    • Mary the teenage prostitute leaves the life she was stuck in because she knew she'd be forced by her pimp to have an abortion. Sadly, it doesn't turn out well even after she escapes and has her baby.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: The carousel at Barbara and Tom's wedding in the series 6 finale.
  • Good Shepherd: Sister Julienne, head of Nonnatus House, serves as this for everyone associated with the clinic, both the nurses and the nuns (and Patrick Turner). Time after time she is shown comforting those in distress, providing spiritual guidance, serving as a serene, compassionate sounding board, and generally keeping everyone about her sane. Mother Jesu Emmanuel, the abbess of the entire Order, is also this in her appearances, even managing to out-Julienne Julienne herself on a few occasions.
  • Greasy Spoon:
    • When Jenny runs into Mary in Series 1, Episode 2, she takes her to a greasy spoon to get the poor, pregnant urchin fed (and to change the five-pound note she had taken from her pimp).
    • In Series 2, Episode 7, Cynthia and Sister Evangelina's patient is an angry old diabetic owner of an eel pie shop.
  • Grande Dame:
    • Chummy's "Mater" Lady Fortescue-Cholmondeley-Browne is the spitting image of a Grande Dame of the last era of their dominance. Made even more typical by virtue of being married to a former India Office official (Chummy was born in India!) and very religious to boot.
    • Sister Monica Joan's background gives every indication that she would be one of these were she not a senile nun.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Despite working for years in the worst slums of London's East End, young, lovely, devoted, soft-spoken Sister Bernadette remains as kind and hopeful as ever, her spirit shining as brightly as her seldom-seen golden hair. After enduring a crisis of faith over her calling when she falls in love with Dr Turner, she comes out of it radiantly in love and determined to continue serving God as a wife, mother, and midwife.
  • Happily Married: A number of cases; this is a Heidi Thomas trademark.
    • Most notably, the Warrens. The mother can't speak a word of English, the father can't speak a word of Spanish, they have twenty-four children with a twenty-fifth on the way, and their home is a complete mess, yet they still are madly in love.
    • Bill and Nora Harding have been dragged through hell and back, with eight children, scant work, and another baby on the way. But despite the sheer horror of Nora's frantic attempts to terminate her pregnancy and eventual butchered back-alley abortion, they remain deeply in love with each other under circumstances that would have torn weaker marriages apart. Thank God (and the midwives), it all ends happily.
    • Among the regular cast, as of series 4, Patrick and Shelagh Turner and Peter and Chummy Noakes. Both couples have had their drama, but they're absolutely devoted to each other. Fred and Violet Buckle also qualify in series 5. Tom and Barbara end up this way too.
  • Held Gaze: Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette, particularly in the second series. Put those two in the same room and they can't seem to take their eyes off each other for more than ten seconds at a time! Taken up to eleven in the second series finale; they are actually, physically unable to tear their eyes away from each other for more than five seconds at a stretch, and those stretches are few and far between.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mary, in the second episode, when her baby is put up for adoption without her consent. It absolutely rips your heart out, especially since you see just how much she dearly loved her baby and intended to be a good and loving mother. Soon, she goes into full Sanity Slippage and needs serious mental treatment.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: The nurses and nuns are beloved among the people of Poplar. They frequently show their gratitude with gifts to Nonnatus House.
  • Hidden Depths: Not one character on this show is exactly what they appear at first glance, whether it's the seemingly soft-spoken Sister Bernadette's surprisingly sparkling wit or the outwardly frivolous Trixie's dedication to her profession. Basically, Hidden Depths is this show's bread and butter.
  • Holding Hands: This is frequently how Shelagh and Sister Julienne express their affection for each other.
  • Honorary True Companion: Dr Turner, to the nurse-midwives of Nonnatus. He's not quite One Of Them, as he's a doctor with different responsibilities, but he is still their firmest friend and is just as deeply committed to serving the residents of Poplar.
  • Hot for Preacher: Dr Turner falls head over heels for the kindest, sweetest, most good-hearted character in the entire cast, and she falls just as desperately in love with him. Unfortunately for them both, that character is devoted nun Sister Bernadette. Her struggle to choose between her vows and the man she loves is a major subplot of the second series.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Though not actually a schoolgirl, Chummy fits the character archetype in every other way.
  • Inspired by…: The memoirs of Jennifer Worth.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: The entire plot of the fourth episode. Not only is a couple's baby kidnapped from the pram, but the mother has to deal with malicious gossip that she secretly wanted to harm her child. And in the end, the person behind the kidnapping? A teenage girl who, after being tricked into a life of prostitution, had her own baby taken and put up for adoption without her consent, leaving her to go insane all alone. The reason she took the baby? She thought the infant was her own child taken from her. Even the actual mother of the baby can't help but feel bad for her once learning her story.
  • I Kiss Your Hand:
    • After cleaning up a scrape on Sister Bernadette's hand, Dr Turner gives in to his long-brewing feelings for her and tenderly kisses her palm in an incredibly charged scene — and not the gallant, chivalrous back-of-the-hand kiss. But an adoring kiss to her palm that screams "I am helplessly in love with you". The devoted nun jerks her hand away and turns her back to him as she stands in shock:
      Turner: I'm sorry. That was unforgivable.
      Bernadette: Who is it who decides what is forgivable or unforgivable?
      Turner: I think you know that better than I do.
      Bernadette: At this moment I only know that I'm not turning my back on you because of you. I'm doing it because of Him.
      Turner: And if I didn't accept that, I wouldn't deserve to live.
    • Three episodes later, Turner does it again — this time after she says 'yes' to marrying him. For bonus points, they're in the exact same place he did it last time. Only this time, she's smiling and accepting his affection.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Horlicks makes everything better... but sometimes that Horlicks needs a little something extra.
    Cynthia to Trixie, shortly after her near-rape: Drink this *gestures to a mug of Horlicks* and I can either put some advocaat in it or fetch you a couple of aspirin.
    Trixie: Advocaat.
    Jenny as Cynthia gets up to bring the advocaat: And bring the whole bottle!
  • Improbable Food Budget: This is 1950s Britain. Nobody is rolling in money, least of all, as Sr Julienne likes to point out, the Convent. Nevertheless, its inhabitants eat like kings - all of the time. (Except Tuesdays, when Mrs B, the unseen housekeeper, has a well-deserved day off). The thing is, this trope might be averted; Mrs B might just be one of those amazing old-fashioned cooks who can produce incredible meals from absolutely nothing, which is hardly improbable given that she likely had a great deal of experience managing with what was probably a very limited budget during The Great Depression and then rationing during the war. They might also get a sizable amount of foodstuffs via donations. Or they might just be spending all their cash on food and that's why they can't take taxis, or have a water heater, or any of the other things Sr Julienne says they can't afford. Either way, these midwives eat a lot.note 
    • Possibly not as unlikely as you might think. Rationing in the UK ended in 1954 and 1957, the year the show begins, is when Harold MacMillan commented on an improving standard of living and said Britain "never had it so good." So it's possible the affordability of food was improving.
  • In Another Man's Shoes: In episode 9x05, to learn how to help a woman going through a midlife crisis, Sister Julienne ditches her habit for an afternoon and experiences treatment as an ordinary woman.
  • Irish Priest: The Catholic priest in the second episode is Irish.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: The aforementioned Catholic priest has this to say about Fig Newtons:
    It tastes like...treacle. Wrapped in a doormat.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sister Evangelina is, underneath it all, as kind as the rest of the nurses. Part of this is the fact that she comes from the same stock as the people Nonnatus House is serving, and therefore is naturally suspicious of those midwives who come from somewhat more privileged backgrounds than she does (let alone those, like Chummy, who come from massively more privileged backgrounds), thinking of them as dilettantes and unqualified for work in the trenches. However, once they've proven themselves, she softens up significantly.
  • Jewish Mother: Mrs Rubin in Series 3, Episode 4 is a classic example. She even drums up the courage to leave her flat to nag her daughter about the baby.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: Though it doesn't involve travelling, Sister Bernadette describes her time in the sanatorium recovering from TB as this, calling it her "wilderness". It's this that forces her to confront what she really wants from life; she calls it her "test of what [she] felt" regarding her blooming love for Dr Turner. In the end, she decides to "open the window", leave the Order, and be with him.
    Sister Bernadette: I need your strength, Sister [Julienne]. I don't have enough of my own because I don't know if God's given me a window and I'm just staring out of it because I'm afraid to open it.
  • Language of Love: Len & Conchita Warren. He's from Poplar, she's from Spain. He speaks only English, she speaks only Spanish. This does not, however, stop them from having 25 children together, most of whom are now old enough to provide a free translation service.
  • Leitmotif: Several by series composer Peter Salem, notably "In the Mirror" for Sister Bernadette and "The Letter" for the relationship between Sister Bernadette and Dr Turner. They can all be found on "Call the Midwife: The Album".
  • Lethal Chef: Chummy, for all her skill as a nurse and in needlework, can't try to bake a pie without overcooking the filling or burning the crust.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Timothy Turner is a real chip off the old block; he even reads The Lancet to keep up with the latest medical news. All the indications are that he's going to be an excellent doctor someday.
  • Longing Look:
    • Dr Turner casts too many of these to count at Sister Bernadette. She's just as bad, giving him the calf eyes right back.
    • Patsy and Delia share a lot of longing looks, especially when they know they cannot be too affectionate in public.
  • Love Hurts:
    • Sister Bernadette. Dr Turner, too, to a (slightly) lesser extent.
    • Trixie and Tom experience a hard break up.
    • Jenny loses her loving boyfriend in an accident... one hour after talking to him in his hospital bed and everything seemed perfectly fine.
    • Patsy and Delia love one another, but no one else can know, which makes them notably sad.
  • Love Triangle: Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette are in love with each other, but she is torn between her love for Dr Turner and her love for (and more importantly, her vows to) God.
  • Meaningful Echo: At the beginning of 2x05, Sister Julienne asks Sister Bernadette to "Change nothing. Go nowhere. Stay exactly as you are. I really don't think I can do without you." At the end of 2x06, after Sister Bernadette has been diagnosed with tuberculosis and Sister Julienne is called away on a delivery but doesn't want to leave her, Sister Bernadette tells her gently, "Sister, if you continue with your work as normal, nothing will be out of sorts. Nothing will have changed."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • In-universe, the midwives give the goldfish one.
    • Sister Bernadette, on multiple levels. First, there's 'Bernadette' — like the saint whose name she took (and who, incidentally, is the Patron Saint of the sick and poverty-stricken), Sister Bernadette only speaks of her agony — in this case when she's torn between her vows and the man she loves — to her most trusted confidante, Sister Julienne. She also comes down with tuberculosis (though not of the bone, and it's not fatal). Secondly, her birth name, which she returns to when she leaves the Order, is 'Shelagh', the Irish variant of Cecilia. St Cecilia is the patron saint of music. Sister Bernadette is the soloist for the nuns' plainsong.
      • Sort of discussed in universe when Sister Evangelina notes that Sister Bernadette became a nun soon after the film The Song of Bernadette came out, and wondered whether she was influenced by it in her decision to become a nun. Her prior indications of chafing at the limitations of her calling, even before her romance with Dr Turner, indicate that this could well have been true.
    • The Warren family, with 25 kids all crammed into a normal-sized house. As a "warren" is a rabbit's den, it's apt.
    • It is probably not a coincidence that Sister Julienne shares a form of her name with both Saint Julian the Hospitaller and, more importantly, with the 13th-century English mystic Dame Julian of Norwich, author of Revelations of Divine Love.
  • Meaningful Rename: When Sister Bernadette calls Dr Turner after she's been released from the sanatorium, he calls her 'Sister Bernadette'. She gently replies that she no longer answers to that name, as she has decided to leave the Order. When they finally meet on the side of the road and commit to each other, she reveals her pre-Order name for the first time as they upgrade to First-Name Basis. His is Patrick, and hers is Shelagh.
  • Medical Drama: Albeit one not (usually) set in a hospital.
=* Missing Mom: Timothy Turner's mother passed away a few months prior to the start of series 1. The impact of this on his life and his relationship with his dad (Dr Turner, the local physician) is definitely not shied away from. Dr Turner admits how he's worried how his son will handle certain points of his life without a mother and that Timothy has made it clear that he can't stand his poor level cooking and repeated "fish and chips" dinner. Gaining a Good Stepmother in Shelagh appears to fill this void in Timothy's life and he loves her like his own mother. However, he still very much remembers his late mother and is shown to dearly miss her.
  • Model Couple: Tom Harewood and Trixie in Series 3. The dark, handsome curate and the glamorous (if coquettish—and by that point short-haired) blonde nurse. To quote Mad Men on the subject of a near-contemporary couple across the pond: "They look like they could be on [a] wedding cake." Sort of the opposite of Chummy and Peter.
  • Mood Whiplash: Let's go from the horror of a bloody back-alley abortion to a cheerful fete! And that's just one example. However, as had previously been noted about Cranford (also written by Heidi Thomas), it never devolves into a melodramatic mess.
  • Morning Sickness: All over everywhere in this series, naturally, given the subject matter. Perhaps its most notable appearance, though, is in an exchange between Shelagh and Sister Julienne; Shelagh, nauseous at the smell of milk in her tea, confesses that "breakfasts have been impossible". Having been a firsthand witness and confidante to Shelagh's struggles with TB-induced infertility, Julienne reacts with breathless, dawning hope — and has her suspicions confirmed moments later when a tearful Shelagh admits that she is indeed expecting.
  • Mouthy Kid: Timothy Turner is a mild example. He's quick to (accurately) point out his dad's foibles and does plenty of snarking, but really does love him and want him to be happy.
  • Mr. Exposition: Do we need someone to deliver a quick, somewhat awkwardly-written explanation of a medical condition or to gush somewhat some awkwardly-written praises of some new wonderful thing the 50s welfare state has made possible? Dr Turner is your man!
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sister Evangelina's reaction to Sister Monica Joan's disappearance in the 2015 Christmas special.
    • Sister Evangelina gets this again when a patient is so unwilling to use formula (even though she has inverted nipples and the child will not latch) based on the nun's strong opinions on the matter that the child nearly starves. She responds by leaving to go to a silent convent for several months.
    • Everyone involved in the thalidomide scandal, but especially Dr. Turner.
    • The Chinese mother in law in series 6 — after she had lost a baby daughter that had frozen to death while fleeing their village, she insisted that her daughter-in-law stay confined inside the apartment with the baby with the windows closed. The child nearly dies of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • In the same episode as above, Sister Ursula has a moment of this after the child's condition is nearly missed by the midwives because Sister Ursula has ordered them to stick to an extremely severe timetable for visits due to a fear of inefficiency (for which her former hospital was closed down).
  • My Local:
    • The Hand and Shears seems to be a common one for a lot of the good people of Poplar.
    • The patients in Series 2, Episode 6, the Mastersons, are a father and daughter pair who come from a long line of pub owners, running The Master's Arms Pub (which claims to date from 1532). Although she left six years before the events of the episode, leaving them estranged and embittered, each loves the other dearly. As it turned out, that never changed even during their estrangement: he left his beloved pub to her.
    • The Black Sail, where Valerie used to work.
  • National Health Service: The nurses—whether or not in holy orders—are directly or indirectly employed by the NHS, as are all the doctors who appear. The arrival of the NHS and the changes it brings to the East End are a significant running theme in the series.
  • Naughty Nuns: Wholly averted. Despite one of them being Jenny Agutternote  and another one running off with the local GP, the Call the Midwife nuns are definitely of the serious, non-fetishised variety. The long habits, sensible shoes and actual prayers are a dead giveaway.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Played around with. What's absent from Call the Midwife isn't so much romance as sex. The show is absolutely full of the consequences of said act — be it babies, syphilis, name it, Call the Midwife features it, usually in wince-inducing detail — but crucially, almost none of the main characters are engaging in it. Probably Truth in Television here, since it's set in the 1950s and the main characters are almost all young single women or, erm, nuns. The effect is heightened by the fact that most romantic subplots (and they do exist, as demonstrated by this series page...) seem to go to shy secondary characters; not so much All Love Is Unrequited as All Love is Tentative, Chaste, or Happening Offscreen. Airing on BBC One before the Watershed also limits what can be shown. It's not a bad thing — it's actually rather sweet — but it is noticeable in a show that's all about reproduction. Seriously, the closest we get is Chummy becoming pregnant in the second series, and even then, she's already Happily Married, and we still don't get more than a kiss from her and Peter. Also, even though Patrick and Shelagh are married in the 2013 Christmas special in between series 2 and 3, they don't actually kiss on the lips on screen until series 4, episode 5.
  • Noodle Incident: Sister Julienne mentions an incident in which "four young men were found in the broom cupboard at St Thomas's". Who they were, what they were doing there, and what happened next is never explained, mostly due to the fact that Sister Julienne and Sister Evangelina are laughing too hard to speak and nobody else knows what happened.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Listed as Mature Jenny, voiced by Vanessa Redgrave.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Sweet, gentle Sister Bernadette always does her best to put a brave face on things, but when she's forced to confront her feelings for Dr Turner, she's brought to tears twice over. Luckily for her, Sister Julienne is there for her both times.
    • Sister Julienne is moved to tears exactly once; when she has to say goodbye to Bernadette, who is leaving the Order to marry Dr Turner. It's never been more clear that as far as Julienne is concerned, Bernadette is the child of her heart.
    • Shelagh, formerly Sister Bernadette — usually noted for her calm, unflappable nature when faced with any medical problem imaginable — goes into full-out hysterics when her all-but-stepson Timothy Turner is diagnosed with polio. Even worse, she's the one who finds him collapsed on the couch — and she knows exactly what she's looking at. It's the first time Shelagh ever totally loses her composure, and it is heartbreaking.
    • Patsy Mount faces even the most heartbreaking medical complications with brisk competence. But when she delivers her first stillborn baby — and as the senior nurse to the very rookie Barbara Gilbert has to take charge of the situation — she goes straight from the mother's flat to her girlfriend Delia, breaking down in tears in Delia's arms over having to lock away her own grief and horror in order to do her job.
    • The series 5 finale sees the entire cast weeping over Sister Evangelina's death...and Shelagh crying when she finds out thalidomide has been recalled, and realizes why several children in Poplar have been born with serious defects...
  • Nuns Are Funny: Sometimes, especially Sister Monica Joan. Sister Julienne also has her moments, as she's an accomplished Deadpan Snarker — the words never come out of her mouth, but her face speaks volumes. And finally, Sister Evangelina's no-nonsense style leads to a good number of snarks.
  • Nuns Are Spooky: Jenny is bit freaked out when she first arrives, but this is averted mostly.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: No one is quite sure how sane Sister Monica Joan actually is. This becomes a plot point in Series 1, Episode 6, where it's revealed that she is a kleptomaniac.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette go up against a group of them in their efforts to get a tuberculosis screening van to Poplar. The bureaucrats lose. Spectacularly.
  • Odd Name Out: Not so much that it's odd but Sister Winifred in that all the other nun's given names have been revealed except hers.
  • Official Couple: Chummy and Peter in the first series, Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette in the second.
  • Off the Wagon: This is Trixie's story in series 7. She starts drinking again after her relationship with Christopher ends.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Winnie gives birth in 1x03, she's been suffering from a quiet but prolonged case of this, and it becomes clear why as soon as her son is born; he's black. Cynthia, Trixie and Dr Turner silently but clearly share the 'oh crap' reaction, but surprisingly Winnie's husband, Ted, accepts the baby without comment and with a lot of joy.
  • The One Guy: Doctor Turner and Fred the handyman take turns at being this.
  • One Head Taller:
    • Patsy is at least one head taller than girlfriend, Delia but what it usually presented with this troupe is switched as smaller Delia seems to take the role of what is usual typical of her taller counterpart. Like being the big spoon and the one that instigates flirting, which, for obvious reasons (regarding the society at the time), comes less naturally to Patsy.
    • Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette.
  • One of Our Own: Sister Bernadette comes down with tuberculosis, devastating all of Nonnatus House — especially Dr Turner, who makes the initial diagnosis and drops her off at the sanatorium.
    • A second example occurs when Chummy's labour starts to go horribly wrong, and she almost bleeds out.
    • Another comes in the second Christmas special, when Dr Turner's son, Timmy, comes down with respiratory polio and is temporarily forced into an iron lung.
    • The second-to-last episode of season seven hits this hard with Barbara going into septic shock and eventually passing away with her husband and her best friend beside her. The following episode features her funeral.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Chummy is called "Chummy" by pretty much everyone, except when she's "Nurse Browne". Only her husband Peter calls her "Camilla".
    • Known as "Patsy" to everyone and "Pats" by her girlfriend Delia, Patsy's actual name, "Patience", isn't used again after her first introduction.
    • "Trixie" is rarely called her real name "Beatrix", so much so it seems even some of the newer members of the house are not aware it is her real name. At the end of series 4, she uses her full name in a heart-rending context:
    Trixie: Do I have to say it now? My name is Beatrix, but everyone calls me Trixie. And I'm an alcoholic.
  • Overly Long Name: Camilla Fortescue Cholmondeley Browne. Everyone calls her "Chummy."
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Inevitable.
  • Pantomime Animal: In the series 7 Christmas Episode, Trixie and Christopher appear as a pantomime cow when the much-delayed Christmas pantomime is finally staged. Trixie complains that she went to all the trouble of getting her hair done and a manicure when no one can see her.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Timothy Turner loves his stepmother dearly and was so on board with their romance that in a roundabout way he did the proposingnote , but would still rather not see them kissing in front of him, thanks ever so much.
    Timothy: Ugh, do you have to?
    Shelagh: [about to break down laughing] Not strictly, but it embarrasses you and that keeps us entertained.
  • Parental Substitute: Sister Bernadette lost her mother when she was very young, so it's not surprising that, while Sister Julienne is the Team Mum to pretty much all of Nonnatus, her interactions with Bernadette are far more overtly maternal — she's obviously stepped in to fill that gap over the years. They may call each other "sister", but that's not how they see each other. This really comes to the fore during the second series. The 2013 Christmas special all but makes it explicit: when Shelagh walks down the aisle to marry Dr Turner, Julienne is sitting in the front left pew of the church, in the seat closest to the centre aisle — the place reserved for the mother of the bride.
    • Shelagh becomes this for Timothy Turner after she marries his father. He even refers to her as "Mum".
  • Parents as People: Dr Turner really does love his son, and really does try his best — but being a single dad while working full-time as an on-call physician is not the easiest thing in the world, resulting in a lot of missed parents' nights, fish-n-chips for dinner, constantly running late, etc. Lampshaded by Timothy himself whenever he gets the chance.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Dr Turner, the doctor who works with the nurse-midwives of Nonnatus House, was widowed prior to the start of the first series. Then he fell desperately (and mutually) in love with Sister Bernadette. His son, Timothy, adores her and is so on board with their romance that in a roundabout way he winds up doing the proposing.
  • Picky Eater: Despite the Improbable Food Budget at Nonnatus House, Sister Monica Joan finds plenty to complain about. Foodstuffs she objects to include swiss roll ("I cannot excite myself about a fatless sponge"), ginger nuts ("...and we are faced with ginger nuts, AGAIN") and avocado pears ("On reflection, I would rather have had spam"). She also (quite literally) Does Not Like Spam. In fact, she only really seems happy when in possession of her Trademark Favorite Food, cake, which she will go to almost any lengths to get.
  • Playing a Tree: In the Series 2 Christmas special, the parish Nativity play Chummy organizes (as leader of the Cub Scout pack) ends up with too many players after combining the Cubs with the Brownies to put on a better show for the Mayor of Poplar (who's dropping in). Seeing this, Chummy decides to personify the gifts of the Three Wise Men and have an awfully large number of sheep.
  • Politically Correct History: Although the rampant poverty in the 50's is not skirted over, no characters remark when a pregnant woman reveals that not only is the child not her husband's, the father is black. This was at a time when casual racism was very widespread in Britain, and most people had very conservative attitudes towards marriage. Her husband not saying anything is justified as he is desperate to have a child, as both of them are getting older, and does not mind if it's not his.
    • An aversion of this occurs S2 Ep7 when the show portrays the cruel and racist treatment of a Jamaican immigrant woman by her neighbors (they insist that Jenny "come to us first"), although one of the neighbors eventually comes round and helps the Jamaican woman when she goes into labor (in part because the Jamaican woman had saved her—and presumably her baby—from a fall down the poorly-maintained stairs).
    • Trixie and Patsy prove to be surprisingly progressive in their opinion on gay people in Series 4, Episode 3, but then Patsy had by that point been hinted to be a lesbian (it would be outright revealed later) and Trixie had previously been a beard for a gay doctor and thus has a rather personal view on the subject. Also, Sister Monica Joan speaks out against the arrest of Mr Amos, but then she's Sister Monica Joan and can be expected to have unorthodox opinions, while Sister Winifred expresses more traditional views and Sister Julienne tries to change the subject. In the Turner home, Shelagh doesn't know what to think, while the good doctor, ever the softie, is all for live-and-let-live (having met gay men during the War and read the Kinsey Reports), but he also seems to buy into the '50s-'60s "educated medical opinion" that homosexuality was a psychiatric disorder treatable with drugs and/or therapy (it isn't). For many of the characters, the forgiving attitude fits with the Nonnatans' doctrine of God Before Dogma, so in context it's justified.
  • Pregnant Badass: More often than not the mothers the midwifes assist in their births are up against terrible odds be they from poverty or the somewhat archaic methods available to the midwifes.
  • Preppy Name: Ahem: Camilla Fortescue Cholmondeley-Browne. If her name was any posher, it'd have a seat in the Lords. (Not Chummy. Her name.)
  • Present-Day Past: The Girls' Brigade feature fairly frequently in the show — but they weren't called that until 1964 (when the English, Scottish and Irish organisations merged), being known in England as the Girl's Life Brigade at that this time. In fairness, the change at the 1964 merger was in part a recognition of a fairly common shortening of the full name.
  • Pretty in Mink: When Princess Margaret arrives to see the center, she is wearing a light brown mink cape.
  • Pride: Wounded pride (from being called a stuck-up bitch) keeps Mrs. Margaret Jones in Series 1, Episode 4 from seeing the nurses. This prevents the diagnosis of her eclampsia, and both she and her baby die.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Chummy, who goes off to do missionary work for a while. In her case, however, it's made clear at the start that she'll be coming back.
    • In episode 2x05, Sister Evangelina is literally put on a bus to go on holiday and then doesn't appear for the rest of the episode.
    • Jane is put on a bus beginning with the 2013 Christmas special. A cut line of dialogue from Sister Julienne reveals that she's gone to nursing school.
    • Cynthia is put on a bus to Chichester; in the 2014 Christmas special, she decided to join the Order, and is therefore a postulant at the Mother House for much of Series 4.
    • Chummy again in series 4, after a much-reduced screen presence that series; Miranda Hart confirmed that she would not be returning for series 5 due to her film career.
    • Every time Trixie gets put on a ship to see her godmother in Portofino, it's because Helen George is on maternity leave.
    • Sister Winifred was written off of the show during series 8 due to Victoria Yeates’s commitment to the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
    • Phyllis Crane was put on a literal bus for the last few episodes of series 11 because Linda Bassett was starring in What If If Only at the Royal Court Theatre.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The demolition of Nonnatus House was due to Barnet council deciding to redevelop the area where the show was filmed.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sister Julienne, the Team Mum who leads Nonnatus House with kindness, compassion, and unquestioned authority.
  • Relationship Reveal: Delia Busby is initially introduced simply as a friend of Patsy's, as she comes to help Patsy's Cub Scouts with their first aid badges. We see a bit more of her over subsequent episodes, but any notion of the two being only friends is rapidly put to bed with a shovel when Patsy, devastated after attending a stillbirth, goes to Delia's bedroom late at night and breaks down in Delia's arms while an obviously concerned Delia covers her in kisses. It's later revealed that the two have been romantically involved for several years at least, possibly even since nursing school.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette in 2x08 after being forced to repress their feelings due to her vows as a Nun and then spending several months away recovering from TB.
    • Tom and Barbara manage this after a while.
  • The Reliable One: Sister Bernadette, who blessedly gets some more screen time in the second series.
    Sister Bernadette: What can I do to help, Sister?
    Sister Julienne: Change nothing. Go nowhere. Carry on exactly as you are. I really don't think I can do without you.
  • Revolving Door Casting:
    • Series One: Nurses: Jenny, Trixie, Cynthia, later Chummy. Nuns: Julienne, Monica Joan, Evangelina, Bernadette.
    • Series Two: Nurses: Jenny, Trixie, Cynthia, Chummy, later Jane. Nuns: Julienne, Monica Joan, Evangelina, Bernadette.
    • Series Three: Nurses: Jenny, Trixie, Cynthia, Chummy, later Patsy. Nuns: Julienne, Monica Joan, Evangelina, Winifred.
    • Series Four: Nurses: Trixie, Patsy, Barbara, Chummy, later Phyllis, Delia, and Shelagh. Nuns: Julienne, Monica Joan, Evangelina, Winifred, Mary Cynthia.
    • Series Five: Nurses: Trixie, Patsy, Barbara, Phyllis, Delia, Shelagh. Nuns: Julienne, Monica Joan, Evangelina, Winifred, Mary Cynthia.
    • Series Six: Nurses: Trixie, Patsy, Barbara, Phyllis, Delia, Valerie, Shelagh. Nuns: Julienne, Monica Joan, Winifred, Mary Cynthia, briefly Ursula.
    • Series Seven: Nurses: Trixie, Barbara, Phyllis, Valerie, Lucille, Shelagh. Nuns: Julienne, Monica Joan, Winifred.
    • Series Eight: Nurses: Trixie, Phyllis, Valerie, Lucille, Shelagh. Nuns: Julienne, Monica Joan, Hilda, Frances.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Bizarrely for a series set over 50 years ago, this manages to show up when a patient in Series 4 is diagnosed with hyperemisis gravidarum (basically morning sickness Up to Eleven, which can be life-threatening): the condition was distinctly in the public mind at the time the series was being written and aired, as it had plagued both of the Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancies.
    • Equally so is the patient's treatment with thalidomide, an anti-nausea drug that caused birth defects in thousands of babies. Decades of lawsuits ensued, and are still in the news today in many countries.
    • The original Nonnatus House is demolished ahead of schedule after being damaged by the controlled detonation of a nearby unexploded German bomb. It's a rare construction site in central London that doesn't unearth one of these.
    • Scout packs led by women (Chummy and later Nurse Crane), though at one time unlikely, are becoming an increasingly common sight as fewer men volunteer for the job.
    • A Season 8 episode regarding a measles outbreak and the need for vaccinations is eerily reminiscent of the current controversy over people deciding not to vaccinate their children and the subsequent increase in measles cases.
  • Saintly Church:
    • This programme may very well be the single most positive depiction of Christianity to hit the airwaves in the last decade, largely thanks to the nuns' selfless God Before Dogma service of the residents of Poplar. Even the storyline where Sister Bernadette is torn between her calling and her love for Dr Turner is played out not as Bernadette turning her back on her vows, but as God having a different plan for her life.
    • "What, do you wish to know your Lord's meaning in this thing? Know it well — Love was His meaning." So quotes Shelagh to Sister Julienne in episode 4x02, summing up the entire philosophy of the Order she had once made her life.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Sister Monica Joan is, as a result of her senility. This typically manifests in a failure to understand the Deadpan Snarking of Sister Evangelina.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: As a general rule, Patrick Turner is much calmer and more even-keeled than his driven, hypercompetent wife Shelagh. This proves an excellent steadying dynamic for her, as he knows exactly when and how to get her to take a deep breath when she needs it.
  • Second Love:
    • Sister Bernadette for Dr Turner after the death of his first wife.
    • Barbara for Tom.
  • Secret Relationship: Patsy and Delia are forced to date in secret as a lesbian relationship in the 1960s would ruin their reputation and force them out of their jobs.
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: When the young nurses go off to a dance in the first series, Sister Bernadette wistfully watches them go, then returns to her room, removes her veil and cap, and unpins her hair, letting it fall around her shoulders, obviously reflecting on the sacrifices she's made for her calling and wondering what might have been if she'd not taken holy orders. This is very early foreshadowing (the fourth episode of the programme!) of her storyline in the second series, where she's torn between her vows and her love for Dr Turner (and her simple longing for the life of a wife and motherhood).
  • She Cleans Up Nicely:
    • Jane, in 2x04. Too bad the context is so sad...
    • 2x08 sees Sister Bernadette ditch the habit after leaving the Order. When she's in modern fashions with her hair all done up, Dr Turner visibly has the breath knocked right out of him. Then asks her to marry him — although he was planning that bit before he saw her. Note, though, that she was still in the habit in 2x05, when he was so overcome with his feelings for her that he gave in and kissed her hand quite passionately — clearly, the habit wasn't much of a roadblock.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Alan Bridges in the second Christmas special. Originally a "reemy" mechanic in The Korean War, the Chinese advanced on his unit's position so fast and in such large numbers that he was forced to fight with bayonets. He comes back unable to sleep for more than an hour at a time and smelling blood almost constantly.
    • Also, apparently, Trixie's father (who served in Mesopotamia in World War I).
    • Patrick Turner. The doctor spent some time shortly after World War II in a psychiatric hospital for "war neurosis". It becomes an issue when he and Shelagh have their adoption interview in series 3, and later in series 4 when Patrick battles exhaustion and self-doubt after a misdiagnosis of an infant patient, causing him and Shelagh to fear the war neurosis will return, but he recovers.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Some of the nuns enjoy a spot of matchmaking. Sr Evangelina passionately ships Chummy/Peter, and she goes so far as to set up their first date. Meanwhile, Sr Bernadette not only wants all the gory detail from Chummy, but also goes out of her way to make sure that Jane and the Reverend Appleby-Thornton spend as much time together as possible. Amusingly, it's implied they do it for very different reasons: Sister E just can't take any more Longing Looks and explicitly states that the whole thing makes her 'glad [she] took vows'. Sister B, on the other hand, is definitely living vicariously — especially since she can't, at that point, say anything about her feelings for Dr Turner. She's quite clearly making sure that those two have their happy ending, and it's all the more important to her because she thinks she can't have her own.
    • Later on, Sr Julienne seems to like the idea of Trixie with Tom Harewood—although it's quite subtle and could easily be interpreted as either (a) needling or (b) nothing at all.
    • Timothy Turner ships his dad with Sister Bernadette so much that he's the one who ends up doing the proposing, in a manner of speaking; when Dr Turner asks her, he does so with a ring box wrapped in paper, on which Timothy had written, "Please will you marry my dad?" She was lost for words, but her face said everything.
    • Sister Monica Joan is one for Lucille and Cyril, to the point she nearly ends them before they start by talking up Cyril so much that Lucille's left with the wrong impression!
  • Showrunner: Heidi Thomas, who also writes most of the episodes herself.
  • Shout-Out: This is not the first time Heidi Thomas has written about a passionate, dedicated doctor falling in love with a devout young woman who becomes critically ill.
    • The homophobic graffiti on the Amoses' door in 4x03 could possibly be a nod to a similar scene in Victim (1961), a landmark film in gay British cinema that was released a year after this episode was set.
  • Shown Their Work: The well-researched social history is one of the hallmarks of the show, while the similarly well-researched medical history aspect even resulted in a spin-off non-fiction book by Dr Turner's actor Stephen McGann.
  • Shrinking Violet: Jane. She gets better.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Sister Julienne. Proper, ladylike, a nun, and capable of making any character in the series do exactly what she wants with nothing more than a few words, an eyebrow, and a polite smile.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: All over this programme; every successful and happy romance on this show falls in this category.
    • Chummy, with Peter.
    • Jane, with Rev. Appleby-Thornton.
    • Sister Bernadette, with Dr Turner.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: More towards the cynical side, but still somewhat idealistic. The East End is full of terrible, terrible things (poverty, disease, abuse, filthy living conditions, prostitution, enormous families...) but there are people willing to attempt to make living there possible (such as the midwives).
  • Slumming It:
    • Chummy isn't concealing her upper-class origins, but seems to view them as being unimportant to her current situation. Her mother disagrees.
    • Sister Monica Joan is revealed to come from a fairly well-off family, as well (although, being a nun, almost no one knew this). Then again, even she forgets it at times.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • Former-Sister Bernadette's first name is pronounced "Sheila", but spelt "Shelagh", per Word of God. No surprise there; "Shelagh" is the traditional Scottish spelling, and it would appear from her accent that, like Laura Main, she is Scottish.
    • Sister Julienne's name is the French feminine form of "Julian" — and definitely not spelt, as some would have you believe, "Julianne".
  • Stepford Smiler: Trixie has more than a touch of this — when she was a child, she helped her Shell-Shocked Veteran father cope via her bubbly personality.
    Trixie: You don’t forget what it’s like to be putting on a show, wishing all the time that somebody, anybody who can help will say, ‘Something the matter?’ — and hoping all the time that nobody does because you have so much to hide.
  • Standard '50s Father: Dr Turner is a reconstruction of the trope: an actual father in the 1950s who actually dresses like the stereotype (although he smokes cigarettes, not a pipe), he's a genuinely wise, caring physician with much love and firm but fair discipline for his son. However, as a widower, he has trouble balancing his hellish work schedule and his duties to Timmy. He also has distinct Bumbling Dad tendencies at times, and his obligatory experience during the War (as he was a medical graduate, working in a field hospital) resulted in a mental breakdown (from all the goriness of the wounded, sick, and dying in the war).
  • Sticky Fingers: Sister Monica Joan.
  • Stiff Upper Lip:
    • Chummy, during the breech pregnancy. This has previously been established as being incredibly dangerous and incredibly difficult for a midwife to do (and Chummy herself mentioned fainting the last time she saw one) but Chummy is able to explain calmly and clearly to the mother everything that needs to be done, hiding her own fear masterfully.
    • This is Sister Julienne's modus operandi. It doesn't matter what gets thrown at her, she keeps calm and carries on while barely blinking an eye. Upon encountering a day which consists of, among other things, a prenatal clinic, a community tuberculosis X-ray screening, a Birth/Death Juxtaposition, and Sister Bernadette being diagnosed with tuberculosis, while she's visibly fraying at the edges, she holds it together, manages with cool competence, and merely has this to say:
      Sister Julienne: O Lord, You are having a very, very busy day.
    • Sister Bernadette does her level best to meet everything thrown at her with a smile and a kind word. Including her tuberculosis.
    • Patsy is a prime exemplar, to the point where she comes across as outright unfeeling. She isn't; as it turns out she had this reinforced by the horrible cruelty inflicted on her and her family in a Japanese internment camp.
    Patsy: In the hell I grew up in, it was what you did that mattered, not some show of sentiment and emotion.
  • The Stoic: A number of pregnant patients are unusually subdued during labour; the biggest example, though, has to be Julia Masterson (Series 2 Episode 6), who is almost completely silent except for the heavy breathing and a few grunts.
    • Within the regular cast, Dr Turner is always on an even keel even when he is in serious (usually emotional) anguish (e.g. when he hasn't heard from Sister Bernadette after sending her several letters expressing his romantic feelings). This makes his obvious panic and frantic race through the hospital halls to find Timothy, who has been diagnosed with polio, all the more heartbreaking.
  • Suit-Up of Destiny: Even though she's not a superhero, when Shelagh puts on a nurse's uniform for the first time in episode 4x05, it has an air of this. Although she is already a fully trained nurse, this helps everyone else to see her that way and give her respect as she takes charge of the clinic and patients, forcing them to acknowledge her skill and allow her to do her job.
    • And then again in the seventh season, when Shelagh needs to come into work while technically on maternity leave after giving birth to Teddy- there's a whole montage of her squeezing and wiggling into her girdle and uniform.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: One of the women in the 2015 Christmas special doesn't realise she's pregnant until she starts going into labour.
  • Survivor Guilt: Julia Masterson in Series 2, Episode 6, the only one of her father's seven children not to die of TB (which took her mother as well). She explicitly tells her dad, "I'm sorry I'm the one who didn't die."
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: With the departure of Jessica Raine as Jenny Lee, the show brought in Charlotte Ritchie as Barbara Gilbert, a brunette Naïve Newcomer who had a) just finished her training and b) found herself a bit overwhelmed by the East End. However, Barbara is otherwise entirely different from Jenny, being a vicar's daughter from Liverpool who displays none of Jenny's hand-wringing, middle-class moralizing, or complicated love life; instead, she takes everything that comes at her with plucky, cheerful determination.
  • Taking the Veil: The nuns of Nonnatus House all feel the religious life is their vocation; even Sister Bernadette, who leaves the Order to get married, is incredibly conflicted about leaving. After a brief estrangement from the nuns, she is still closely connected with the Sisters, to the point where, in series 4, she is seen advising Sister Julienne and again joining the sisters in prayer and song.
    • On the other hand, Chummy, a devout Anglican, seriously considers joining the Order when her mother tries to shoot down her plans to marry Constable Noakes; she thinks better of it, and instead marries Peter and takes a six-month trip as a midwife-missionary in Sierra Leone.
    • Going the other way, Cynthia decides to become a postulant in Series 4, and is therefore absent for the first part of that series.
  • Talkative Loon: Sister Monica Joan, at times.
  • Team Mum: Sister Julienne mothers everyone at Nonnatus who isn't Sister Evangelina and is generally responsible for holding everyone together through any number of crises.
  • Television Geography: In one episode, a couple leave Poplar after walking to a below surface London Underground station. Poplar has never had a Tube station - the LNER station closed in 1944 after wartime bombing and is now the site of All Saints DLR station; Poplar's own DLR station did not open until 1987. Indeed, most trips to London in the show are actually done by bus.
    • The nearest is the above-ground Bromley by Bow, about a mile and a half away.
  • Teen Pregnancy:
    • An intensely tragic one, with Mary.
    • Also the case with Lynette.
  • They Do: Chummy and Peter. Dr Turner and Sister Bernadette. Tom and Barbara.
  • Time-Compression Montage: Call the Midwife loves a good montage. It might be a Good-Times Montage (2x05 has a ludicrously cute fete-preparation one), a Falling-in-Love Montage (witness Jane and the Reverend Appleby-Thornton in 2x04) or even a Training Montage (watch Constable Noakes, the poor man's Rocky Balboa, in 2x02). The type and the mood vary from episode to episode, but insanely catchy 50's pop songs appear to be compulsory.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Chummy and Constable Noakes - when they're seen on the street together, the top of his helmet barely reaches her forehead. At one point, the midwives and their respective beaux all go out to a local dance hall, where Noakes attempts to spin Chummy on the dance floor. Given that she's a good six inches taller than he, the maneuver looks passing ridiculous.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Cake, for the nuns. Sister Monica Joan is the main offender here and will demolish any quantity of cake on sight. The others, however, are clearly not immune, as they go to a good deal of trouble to hide it from her. Jenny Lee's first introduction to Nonnatus House is Sr Monica Joan finding the coconut cake that Sr Evangelina has hidden inside a saucepan. Sr E is Not Pleased, and it is implied that this is not an isolated incident. Cake goes on to feature in almost every episode; notable mentions include Srs Julienne & MJ's spat over a plate of spotted dick note  and Sr Bernadette's expression of pure rapture in 2x08, when she gets an almond sponge from Mrs B. Sr MJ sadly ate its friend, the cherry slab.
    • Nurse Crane is rather fond of barley sugars, and hands them out freely to coworkers and patients as well as sucking on them herself.
    • Nurse Gilbert enjoys sherbet lollies.
  • True Companions: The nurses/midwives of Nonnatus House. The young nurses and Sister Bernadette are like sisters, with Sister Julienne as the Team Mum, Sister Evangelina as the cranky-but-good-hearted aunt, Fred as the wacky uncle, and Sister Monica Joan as the eccentric grandmother.
  • Twice Shy: Chummy and Peter. Sister Evangelina eventually gets so annoyed with it that she summarily takes care of the whole matter.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Nobody carries off the "careworn, world-weary older gent" look as well as Stephen McGann. Given that he's Paul's brother, this is not surprising.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Sister Bernadette and Doctor Turner. Eventually resolved when they marry.
  • The Vicar: The Rev. Appleby-Thornton displays the stereotypical eccentricity—in his case, amiably not knowing when to shut up. Later, we find out the good Reverend's incessant talking is actually a coping mechanism—his parents hated each other, and kept utter silence at meals, leading him to fill it because the quiet was unbearable.
    • The curate, Tom Harewood, is something of a subversion; he's the very model of a handsome, modern, actually-with-it young CoE cleric of the age—the kind who just a few years later would be utterly bewildered by what had changed.
  • Wham Line: "This... has my name on it." That's Sister Bernadette, looking at an x-ray that's positive for tuberculosis.
    • And in Series 4:
    Dr Turner: "The tablets are known as Distaval. The magic ingredient is called thalidomide.'
  • Wham Episode: In Season 7, a whole episode focuses on a particularly unlucky family that recently moved to Poplar. The husband dies in a car accident the day they move in, leaving a pregnant wife and two kids. The wife is struggling to keep a business going, to the point that she neglects her antenatal care. Although she's fighting a cold, Barbara starts making house calls (in her role as a midwife), and also tries to provide emotional support (in her role as curate's wife). Then the family's shop catches fire, and Phyllis has to rescue the kids and pregnant mother, who then goes into labor. Barbara delivers the woman's surprise twins, and enlists Fred to help rebuild the shop so the family can support itself. Just as there's about to be a happy ending, it turns out Barbara's cold is actually meningitis + septicemia. It ends with Dr. Turner rushing Tom to the hospital, where Barbara dies.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: With a surprisingly happy ending.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Insects, for Jenny. She nearly has a panic attack when coming across a patient's bug-infested home.
    • Fish, for Trixie, which proves a problem when she's a midwife to a fishmonger's wife — and it's a home delivery. Luckily, the mum-to-be is more than understanding, confiding to Trixie that she "feels the same way about chickens."
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: The Jewish family in Series 3, Episode 4: when the little girl is born, the younger woman tells her mother, "You've become a bubbe!" Justified in that they're actual Yiddish-speakers and Holocaust survivors, so really it's more like Yiddish as a First Language.
  • You Must Be Cold: When Dr Turner finds Sister Bernadette (now Shelagh) on the side of a foggy country road after she's been released from the sanatorium (she'd caught the wrong bus), he wraps her up in his overcoat and then he does not let go, holding it closed around her while they're busy admitting that oh, yes, they're quite desperately in love with each other and they're both absolutely certain they want to spend their lives together. While never looking away from each other's faces. Then they get round to telling each other their first names.
  • Younger Than They Look: Mary is 15.