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Call the Midwife: Season 1

1,100 customer reviews

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(Nov 06, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Call the Midwife: Season One (BBC/DVD)

A moving, intimate, funny and, above all, true-to-life look at the colorful stories of midwifery and families in East London in the Fifties, based on the best-selling memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth. When Jenny Lee first arrives in Poplar, she knows nothing about hardship, poverty or indeed, life itself. Attached to an order of nursing nuns at Nonnatus House, Jenny is part of a team of midwives who visit expectant mothers, providing the poorest women with the best possible care. Here, the streets teem with children and with just one eight-bed maternity ward to serve the whole district; most deliveries take place at home. Following Jenny as she travels through the streets to meet her patients - like Conchita, who is on her 25th pregnancy and Mary, a prostitute and pregnant at just 15 - Call the Midwife offers a fascinating insight into a community on the brink of huge social change.


In drawing from the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the BBC's Call the Midwife instantly distinguished itself from most other medical dramas, largely because it's a more character-driven piece. Jessica Raine, who evokes the openhearted Judy Garland of The Wizard of Oz, plays Jenny Lee, a middle-class 22-year-old who takes a job at an Anglican convent in 1957, where the young nurses work alongside experienced nuns: calm Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), stern Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris), and spacey, cake-addicted Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt, who costarred with Ferris in Little Doritt).

Jenny is hardy judgmental, but the depth of poverty permeating London's East End provides a wake-up call (suffice to say, gynecological care has come a long way since the 1950s). To be effective, though, she must learn to put her preconceptions aside about teenage prostitutes, unwed mothers, squalid living conditions, and inappropriate relationships. Her upper-class colleague, Camilla "Chummy" Cholomondley-Browne (Miranda Hart, quite affecting), seems like she'd be even deeper out of her depth, but looks can be deceiving--even if Chummy finds it harder to handle the bikes the nurses use to cycle between appointments. Written by Cranford's Heidi Thomas and narrated by Vanessa Redgrave, the show has proven to be as much of a favorite among PBS viewers as ITV's Downton Abbey, to which it's garnered a few comparisons, possibly due to the period setting, even if there's a greater emphasis on women's issues. If anything, the postwar milieu brings the films of Terence Davies and Mike Leigh to mind, particularly Leigh's Vera Drake, in which Imelda Staunton provided off-the-books care to desperate mothers. Though Worth was involved with the spectacularly successful first season, she passed away two weeks before filming began. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jessica Raine, Stephen McGann, Miranda Hart, Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris
  • Directors: Roger Goldby, Philippa Lowthorpe, Jamie Payne
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 355 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,100 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0093I913W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,433 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Call the Midwife: Season 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

185 of 194 people found the following review helpful By Jenny Allworthy on September 28, 2012
Format: DVD
This miniseries from the venerable BBC is an absolute must see. Following young midwives working with nuns in the East End of London in the 1950s, it will have you laughing and crying all at once. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, it has characters that will enter your heart and have you thinking of them for days.

The first episode was wonderful and the second even better. The talents of Jenny Agutter, the hilarious Miranda Hart, Pam Ferris and the newcomer with the face of an angel Jessica Raine are utilized to the utmost. It is quite unbelievable at times how far we have come in 55 years when you see the poverty, and yet it never seems to be a downer.

I can absolutely recommend purchasing the DVDs as this is one series you will watch again and again. The Beeb has commissioned a second season including a Christmas special (I love the Brits for this!) so hang onto your hats for more amazing stories next year!
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Format: DVD
A surprise ratings smash in Britain, "Call The Midwife" makes its North American DVD/Blu-ray debut shortly after having aired on nationwide PBS stations. I'm pleased to report that "Call The Midwife" is a true rarity in television programming and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Based on the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show examines the health and welfare conditions of East London in the fifties. As a young midwife (Jessica Raine) takes an assignment to work for the underprivileged, she is surprised to be stationed at a nunnery as opposed to a clinic or hospital. But she will soon find out that things are done a bit differently than she expected. In the wrong hands, "Call the Midwife" might have been turned into a show filled with a false syrupy sentimentality. But here, we find just the right balance. Nostalgia is tinged with reality. Hope is dampened with real world deprivation. The world depicted can be hard and unsavory and its inhabitants struggle for normalcy and survival. But don't get me wrong, that doesn't make "Call The Midwife" depressing or downbeat. It just makes it real and compelling and the show is also infused with humor throughout. It's a rare (and hard to achieve) combination of sweet and tough!

Both the DVD and Blu-ray release will contain the six episodes of Season One with a total running time just shy of six hours. The extras included are cast and crew interviews.

"Call The Midwife" is episodic by nature. Within each episode, the nurses will contend with various patients (both within the eight bed clinic and the community itself). The conditions are abhorrent and the poverty is apparent, but the young women are dedicated to their profession.
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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful By JJ Darling on October 15, 2012
Format: DVD
If you like British period dramas here is a new one for you!
Set in the late 1950's in the lower middle class & impoverished areas of London's East End, this drama will bring out every possible human emotion.
Backed up by lush Perry Como ballads and joyous melodies, this series will make you merry, break your heart, & enliven your every sense!
Drama, science, romance, crime, technology - it has it all!
I put this just barely ABOVE Downton Abby.
One CAVEAT: Might not be a good choice for women who have not borne their children, yet.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Upchurch on November 5, 2012
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This series is addictive. It is a series about a group of young women and their older female mentors who have found a true calling. They have endless doubts about their ability to complete the tasks but they still find the courage to do what needs to be done. Call the Midwife resonates with me for several reasons. My grandmother did similar public health nursing work in a rural area of Illinois just before WWI. She graduated from Nursing School in 1909 and was immediately sent out to do public health work in an under-served area. Her work involved being the primary health care for those residents, including delivering babies and setting broken bones. So, this series intrigued me when I first heard about it. I have watched all the episodes so far and it lives up to its promise. The situations are realistic about a time when England was just beginning to emerge from rationing and the National Health Service had begun to make a real difference in the lives of the poorest Britains. There is the sense that poverty in 1957 was the same today in many ways but there are also cultural differences. One thing I noticed was that most of the babies are born to married parents. The parents were mostly working poor. The men mostly had jobs and the women were stay-at-home wives and mothers even though the family struggled. Children played the same kinds of games that most children played except they played in the streets. The young nurses are true to their calling and to the time in which they lived. Women's Liberation was a long way off. Like my grandmother, young nurses (unmarried women) couldn't live on their own without chaperones. These nurses are essentially living in a convent.Read more ›
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Betsy Blueberry on October 18, 2012
Format: DVD
Wonderful series based on Jennifer Lee's memoir by the same title. Engaging stories from a midwife in London's east end with all the ups and down's of raising children in the tenements.Great characters, beautiful stories and a joy to watch.
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