The Secrets About Call The Midwife They Don't Want You To Know

13 February 2018, 15:43 | Updated: 13 February 2018, 15:46

Call The Midwife Asset

By Naomi Berners

Naturally, there are lots of births and baby scenes to film in the popular BBC drama. With Call The Midwife back for a seventh series, here are some of the answers to those "how do they do it?!" questions.

The saying goes "never work with children or animals", but the actors on this particular programme don't really have a choice in the matter, so how do they actually go about getting newborns to behave on cue?

Credit: BBC - Call The Midwife

Do they use a real baby for a birth scene?
According to Charlotte Ritchie, who plays Nurse Barbara Gilbert, filming a birth scene can take as long as five hours. She revealed to Radio Times that they rehearse using a 'jelly baby' - a silicone version of a newborn bub.
 Then, when they time comes to shoot it for real, she explained: "We pass it under the actor’s thigh and she brings it up, holding the baby and its umbilical cord, which is made of silicone, and then she holds it against its tummy."

How do they get a real baby to look like it has just been born?
A mixture of grape juice and stage blood are put on the babies skin.

How do they manage to get babies that are only a few days old?
Pregnant mums are booked in advance of their labours to ensure the crew have access to babies that are less than 10 days old. 

Credit: BBC - Call The Midwife

Where do they get the babies from?
Series producer Ann Tricklebank revealed that bosses receive a lot of letters and calls from fans of the show asking to use their youngsters. She said: "The reality is that we need our newborns at very specific times due to the filming schedule, and so we get most of our babies through a specialist talent agency. We can’t use babies of people who write in because the baby has to tie in to the shooting schedule, not the other way round". 

Do the babies mothers get to watch the scenes?
They're allowed to sit on set or watch the filming through a monitor. 

How do actors that haven't had babies know how to 'act' out a birth scene?
There's a midwifery advisor on set, who takes the actor through the birthing process that's relevant to their specific storyline. Some births will be straightforward, and with others there will be complications. 

Credit: BBC - Call The Midwife 

Do they ever use twins?
According to Ann Tricklebank, if they know there's going to be a difficult birth, they'll try and use twins to allow twice as much film time on camera - but generally, it's just the one tot. 

How did they film the births of newborns with Thalidomide?
The film makers used the head of a real baby, whilst the arms and legs were animatronic.

How many babies and children have been used in Call The Midwife?
Each series includes the use of around 60-70 babies, and over 200 small children. That's a lot of kids!

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