CALL THE MIDWIFE: INTERVIEW WITH JENNY AGUTTER

Call The Midwife returns this weekend on BBC One. Here's a press interview, courtesy of BBC Media Centre.


INTERVIEW WITH JENNY AGUTTER (SISTER JULIENNE)


Can you talk us through the first episode of the new series?

"It is set in 1966, which is a thrilling time. There is a lot going on, such as the exploration of space. 1966 is also the year that England won the World Cup. So a lot of exciting things are happening. Episode one this year is all about trying to create a possible future, modernizing, and doing things differently so that the order can move into the modern age. There's a sense that it may no longer fit into the modern community, and Sister Julienne is certainly addressing that.


"She looks at the possibility of raising money through working outside of the order, to be able to bring money back into the community. There's also the possibility of wearing a different habit. I know that Sister Julienne would like to see those changes happen. But by the same token, it's quite hard to see them being drastically different. It's about trying to find the right balance of where we're going with the modernity. They’re not going to have mini-skirts, I don't think!"


What has changed for the order in the ten years of Call the Midwife?

"When I read the first ever script, I remember thinking, 'Goodness me'. I kept looking at the date, and it was 1958 going into 59, but the way they were handling everything seemed Victorian. I suppose it was still the post-war era, and you still very much had the sense of that community trying to get its strength back again. But over the next ten years, a lot of growth happened. There was a shift in the community, and different problems arose as people became better off. The more people had and the more possibilities they had, the more they seemed to want to give up the responsibility of taking care of community, which I think is something that Sister Julienne worries about."


Why is she so concerned about that?

"Because she's gone through two world wars, when there was such reliance on people working together to get through things. In the immediate post-war years, there's still that reliance on community to make things happen. But after that, there seems to be much more reliance on the social setup. People are asking, 'What can the government do for me now? What can society do for me now?' as opposed to the reverse. People are no longer asking so much, 'What can I do to help us get where we’re going?'"


Will there be a lot of medical and social changes on screen?

"It’s a really exciting time. Very much on the positive side, there are extraordinary breakthroughs happening in every way in the 60s, in the arts, music, science, space and medicine. Childbirth, for example, becomes so much easier for women because so much more is known about it. But we do also see many health and social problems this series."


Do you think Call the Midwife has been a pioneering show over the last ten years?

"Absolutely. Call the Midwife is ground-breaking because it deals with problems full on, without stepping back from them or trying to excuse them or to make them OK or to give characters a happy ending. I'm so proud to have been a part of this show over the last decade."