Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas says she can't wait for the series to show women "enjoying their bodies" as her beloved period drama hurtles towards the swinging sixties, and prepares to encompass the feminist movements taking hold of the nation at that time.
The BBC One drama, which follows the lives of the nurses, nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House in east London's Poplar, has seen women gradually gaining autonomy over their bodies with the introduction of the contraceptive pill - despite some equivocation from Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter). But Thomas pointed out that we've yet to see the Nonnatus women being introduced to the feminism and the championing of women's rights, during a virtual panel to celebrate the show's 10th anniversary.
"The [Call the Midwife] world just seems to get richer as we go further along, and I do think we're seeing women attain agency over their bodies," Thomas said to Good Housekeeping and other press."What I like to think as we go forward in time, is that women will start enjoying their own bodies which is something we haven't see them do yet."
Thomas revealed she was looking forward to creating female characters having "more fun" with their sexuality, rather than living in perpetual fear of falling pregnant, or focusing on the life-changing injuries their bodies incur during child birth.
"Women live in mortal fear of anything that might lead to pregnancy - we see women incontinent with child birth injury, and so I'm really looking forward to the bit of the 1960s where women actually start to have some fun," she continued. "Then we are going to break out of the doll's house and our bodies won't have be an unruly object that has to be dominated and controlled but something that can be celebrated and enjoyed - and I do think that we see that in 1960s popular movements of feminism."
Thomas said it will be interesting to see how Nonnatus House will react to these groundbreaking changes pioneered by women, for women.
"We've said vagina so many times and they're still shocked but we've yet to say the 'f' word, feminism," she explained. "We see the women of Nonnatus house living lives of extraordinary autonomy - they're very dedicated, their work comes first. But the word 'feminism' hasn't been used because it hasn't really been coined at this point, certainly for popular usage.
Thomas recalled: "I love when Jenny's [Agutter] Sister Julianne shared her concerns about women using the pill because she didn't want it to facilitate recreational intercourse, but that is the way the world is going... I do think it will be interesting to see the team dealing with that as we go further down the line."
Meanwhile, as the drama celebrates its tenth anniversary - it's also been confirmed for another two series - the screenwriter suggested its longevity and success was down to the "the luxury of a slow burn", which enables the drama to tell "stories about change in very realistic way". The drama often sows the seeds for future plots and storylines.
"We show Trixie training as a cervical cytology nurse as cervical smear testing was being introduced on a voluntary and experimental level by GP practices and as we go forward into say, series 11 I would like to tell a story where cervical cancer is diagnosed we haven't done that yet, but we set the seeds for that almost two years ago. So there is element of allowing the social and medical landscape to unfold at a realist pace and one story will quite naturally lead onto another one."
As for what fans can expect in series 10, controller of BBC Drama commissioning Piers Wenger teased "interesting changes in store for the residents of Nonnatus House - Nurse Trixie (Helen George) faces a professional challenge, Sister Monica Jo must overcome a crisis of faith after her devastating fall at Christmas and we're in 1966 the year in which England will win the World Cup."
Call the Midwife series 10 will air on BBC One later this year.
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