Monday, October 4, 2021

Nursing Nuns and a Vicar Cop


Two of my all-time favorite British TV series - Call the Midwife and Grantchester - have now returned for another new season of PBS.

Season 10 [!] of Call the Midwife continues the story of the nuns and their lay collaborators at Nonnatus House in the poor Poplar district in London's East End, bringing the sisters and their extended community of health workers, patients, and neighbors up to 1966. Originally based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, who had worked with an Anglican religious nursing order, the Community of St. John the Divine (founded in 1849), serving the poor from their convent in London's East End, the series has continued beyond its original setting in the 1950s, still depicting the the day-to-day work of the midwives and the challenges faced by those they seek to serve, enriching each season with recognizable historical events and their effects on the characters' religious and social lives and the medical storylines.

It is now1966! So the Sisters are experimenting with an innovative plan to fund their ministry to Poplar's poor, and maybe modifying their Habits in the process. Tragically Dr. Turner and the midwives are confronting yet another new man-made cause of illness, deformity, and death for both parents and babies. And religious life remaions an unpredictable and challenging journey at every stage of life.

Meanwhile, also starting out in the 1950s but set in a Cambridgeshire village, Grantchester is based on an expansion of James Runcie's The Grantchester Mysteries, about an Anglican village Vicar who involves himself in solving murder mysteries with a local detective. For the first three seasons, it featured Vicar Sydney Chambers (James Norton), replaced in the next three seasons by Vicar Will Davenport (Tom Brittney), both of whom have unofficially partnered with Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green). We are now starting season 6, set in 1958.

In Cambridgeshire 1958, Reverend Will ("I am my work, and my work is me") really needs a vacation. So he and his whole Grantchester crowd - curate Leonard Finch (Al Weaver), housekeeper Mrs. Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones) and her husband Jack (Nick Brimble), also Geordie with wife Cathy (Kacey Ainsworth) and their less-easy-to-entertain children, and even Leonard’s boyfriend Daniel (Oliver Dimsdale) - go to Merries Holiday Park, which is indeed as horrible a place as it sounds. Of course, the very next day, there is a body on the floor. Inevitably, Will and Geordie get to work and quite quickly solve the crime in time to return home on schedule. Meanwhile, however, an ominous cloud hovers on the horizon for Will's curate.

Welcome back, both series, for what will surely be another memorable season!

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