‘It makes Christmas exciting’: Call The Midwife’s Laura Main on festive special and life | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV
This year’s Call The Midwife is another feature-length special
After two to three hours of meticulous styling and make-up and a spectacular Christmas tree to stand by and decorate, Laura, 41, reveals that shedding Call The Midwife’s glasses and nurse outfit has had a very positive effect on fans from has show.
“I was told last week that I looked 20 years younger!” says Main, who plays hard-working midwife and mother Shelagh Turner, a former nun. “It’s probably a bunch of old junk, but people generally say I look so much younger when I’m not in the character.
“I honestly think it’s the old-fashioned glasses and the way I play them.”
Main never quite knows how to react when that happens. “I really don’t know how to take it, I don’t know. I mean, it’s obviously a compliment, so I’ll take it that way. I was told I looked 20 years younger when I showed up to BBC Breakfast fresh-faced and no makeup.”
Like millions of viewers on Christmas Day, original actress Laura is tuning in to Call The Midwife on Christmas Day when she’s home in Scotland.
“Yes, I will watch it like everyone else. I will be in Aberdeen with my mother and two sisters. My dad is no longer with us but yes it will be nice to see it again although I saw it at the press launch.
“In a way, it makes it easier for me to see it again. But I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t in Aberdeen to see the special. It makes Christmas day exciting to see after all the presents are done.”
She adds, “It’s a huge honor to be on an episode of something on Christmas Day, it really is.”
Main plays hard-working midwife and mother Shelagh Turner, a former nun
Main was born in Aberdeen, her late father was a fishmonger and her mother a primary school teacher and homemaker.
Laura then took an art history course at Aberdeen University before studying at the highly regarded Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She has been performing since she was 14 and is supported by her family through all the ups and downs.
In 2011, at the age of 30, she was cast in Call The Midwife as Sister Bernadette. “My family has been so supportive of everything I’ve done,” she says, “especially my parents — they were a cool, supportive family. They came to see all the shows I grew up on and traveled to wherever they were.”
She adds, “And to be in something as wonderful as Call The Midwife, they love it.”
Main never had another career. “It was always acting, but I was sensible and went to college to have something to fall back on.”
With typical humility, she adds, “I guess you can tell whatever happens from that point on, it kind of feels like everything’s fine.”
As for any recent romance in her life, Main is reluctant to reveal too much. “I would just say David that I am very happy in my personal life, which is true.”
This year’s Call The Midwife is another full-length special filled with tears and laughter for audiences. Set in December 1967, with Christmas approaching, life is returning to normal in Poplar, east London, following last season’s horrific train crash.
Main was born in Aberdeen
Trixie (Helen George) returns from Portofino looking balanced and radiant, much to the delight of her love interest Matthew (Olly Rix).
Meanwhile, the midwives move the maternity hospital to new premises and are delighted when one of their first patients walks through the door, Rhoda Mullocks (Liz White), who knows the team, especially Main’s Shelagh, very well.
Rhoda is heavily pregnant and understandably nervous after her last baby was born with thalidomide-affected limbs.
Elsewhere, the ever-cheerful Fred (Cliff Parisi) decides that Poplar needs to get together to raise money for the families still affected by the train wreck, chanting “Poplar-tunity Knocks!”. which closes the episode in grand style.
As Main points out, while some storylines can be bleak, they’re often resolved in positive ways.
“There’s always joy in it, and even in the storylines that seem like they have a lot of challenges. You know, there is always hope and joy.”
Much of the show’s success, Laura says, is thanks to writer-creator Heidi Thomas, who worked with Stephen McGann, Main’s on-screen man Dr. Turner, is married.
“Heids is incredible. She is absolutely incredible. I mean, I don’t think it can be done without her, really. Everything comes from her and her scripts are amazing, especially the way she weaves everything together.”
In one storyline in the special, Trixie draws on her own past to help a character struggling with alcohol.
“He interacts with Trixie,” says Main, “because she understands what he’s going through. And it’s so clever. It’s all part of what she does.
“In every episode, Heidi also makes you laugh. She is very funny. But Heidi also makes you think and brings out real emotions.
“You know, I think that’s what we all felt when we watched this Christmas special together [at the screening] that there were several moments when it just hits you and you’re moved by something.
“I think people can relate to different things. But you can also learn something you never knew about. The show has really caring values.”
There is no shortage of births in this episode, but Main acts out a memorable scene with Mrs. Mullocks as the family fears the horrors of thalidomide. It is Liz White’s fourth installment in the series.
“Shelagh has a real connection with Mrs. Mullocks. We first saw her in the fifth series when she gave birth to baby Susan, who was completely affected by the drug thalidomide. And Shelagh was there for the birth and was very involved. During baby Susan’s aftercare, she had to break the news to Rhoda. So there are always connections to patients. Midwives are extraordinarily sensitive, compassionate people.”
There is no shortage of births in the Christmas special
When asked if filming these scenes makes her emotional, she replies, “Even those who aren’t in these scenes find them emotional. Teddy, our midwifery consultant, has said that even she saw this from watching, which I find really interesting.
“It moves me too. It can also be exciting to be part of a scene like this. Shelagh also does a lot more of the practical nursing stuff, the really iconic stuff, like showing up on a bike.
“I absolutely loved doing the delivery with Liz White.”
But imagine a Christmas without Call The Midwife. The drama was commissioned for only one more series, season 13. Anything could happen after that, Main suggests – even an end to Call the Mid, one of the country’s highest-grossing long-running dramas.
Main almost braces himself for the worst.
“Well, we know about Series 13 – that was announced a long time ago, but we don’t know about 14. We haven’t heard anything.”
Call The Midwife can be seen on BBC1 on Christmas Day at 7.55pm
So could season 13 – in 2024 – be the very last series of Call The Midwife? “I honestly don’t know anything past 13. Not yet. Maybe there will be an announcement when series 12 airs in the new year.
“What I would say is that it still feels exciting to be a part of Call The Midwife and you still feel the excitement of the audience as well. And let’s hope there will be more of them. I love it and am proud of it.”
*Call The Midwife, BBC1, Christmas Day, 7:55 p.m