Call the Midwife to film episode in South Africa

Broadcast

An episode of Call the Midwife, the hugely popular BBC drama about the travails of women in London’s East End during the 1950s and early 60s, is to be shot in South Africa.

Filming for the episode starts in April, when several members of the cast are to fly south for a story set in the apartheid-era regime in 1962.



The BBC is expected to pay no more than the usual fee for such high-end drama, about £1m an episode, despite transporting the main characters from the drab surroundings of postwar working-class London.

Although shrouded in secrecy, the storyline could involve the sisters at Nonnatus House visiting a similar religious outfit in South Africa. Racial and political tensions at the time included the first sabotage attack by Umkhonto we Sizwe, the militant wing of the African National Congress, and a five-year jail sentence for Nelson Mandela after he was judged to have illegally left the country.

Although based on an original memoir from Jennifer Worth about her time as a midwife helping women in the East End before the contraceptive pill was widely available, the book only accounted for roughly two series of Call the Midwife.

Season six, which will start in January 2017, has been written like the others by Heidi Thomas, who said that the forthcoming episode showed how the nuns and midwives “rise to the challenge of supporting a small community in South Africa”.

So popular has the programme proved that there are tours of Call the Midwife locations, with fans visiting St Joseph’s Missionary college in London’s Mill Hill as well as Chatham’s historic dockyard, where the outside scenes are shot.

Its combination of heartache and uplifting heroism has helped turn Call the Midwife into one of the BBC’s biggest hits. The season five finale attracted more than 9.2 million viewers in March, half a million more than tuned in to watch the final episode of the fourth series, with a 38.4% share of total TV viewing between 8pm and 9pm on Sunday night.

The show has also proved a huge hit overseas. BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial arm, has sold the previous five series to some 200 countries, making it one of the corporation’s highest earners.

A spokesman for the series producers, Neal Street Productions, said that the exotic location will cost no more than the usual sets in London, Kent and Surrey.
Source: The Guardian 21 march 2016