Call the Midwife Creator Talks About Thwarting Early Doubters



Heidi Thomas

When a television series is being created, no one can really say for sure whether or not it will be able to successfully connect with a sizeable audience. Of course, ratings often dictate the fate of a series, regardless of its quality. For “Call the Midwife,” it’s been fortunate enough to not just be revered by audiences, but also applauded by critics. That said, early external expectations didn’t jive with what has become reality.

“For a very long time before we started to film it, people told us nobody would watch it,” recalled series creator Heidi Thomas while speaking with Stuff. “They used to say young women will be frightened by it, older women will be disgusted by it, men won’t watch it at all, and I used to think, ‘Well, nobody will watch this show.’”

Despite this very premature estimation, “Call the Midwife” triumphed out of the gate.

Reflected Thomas: “The very first time [the series] went out, we got eight million overnight viewers in the U.K., and I think we were in a sort of shock.”

Call the Midwife - S5E1

Thomas went on to explain that the ratings for “Call the Midwife” have “held steady” for six years, but that’s not what it’s all about for her.

“It’s the passion that people feel for the show and for the stories that we’re telling,” offered Thomas. “Our remit at ‘Call The Midwife’ is to give a voice to people who have experienced great and beautiful and terrible things, and never had a voice before.”

In terms of what has kept viewers coming back for more, Thomas believes “Call the Midwife” is a series that can be casually appreciated – with a glass of wine in-hand – for its aesthetic value and “the lovely music.” But, you can also go a different way.

Call the Midwife S5E6

“You can dig a little bit deeper, looking at the social history, the prejudices that were involved, the difficulties people had before society became as it is today,” said Thomas. “You can even go down to the deepest level where we are telling stories about the human condition, and you can really engage with that – not just matters of society or medicine, but matters of human existence, life, death and birth.

“You can dig down as deeply as you want to,” she added. “But we don’t make you work that hard if you really just need to be cradled for an hour.”

-Adam Grant

Call the Midwife - Stephen McGann

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