This post contains spoilers for the Call the Midwife 2021 Christmas special.
As Christmas 1966 approached in Poplar, excitement was in the air for the upcoming Boxing Day wedding of caring midwife Lucille Anderson (Leonie Elliott) and her kind-hearted fiancé Cyril Robinson (Zephryn Taitte). We’ve loved watching the pair gradually fall for each other over the past few years and were looking forward to their nuptials, but, Call the Midwife being Call the Midwife, things did not go smoothly for them on their way to the altar!
Although the couple were upset that their families from the Caribbean couldn’t be with them for their big day, their pals at Nonnatus House were doing their best to make the wedding as special as possible.
While Cyril’s stag do was a relatively staid occasion with dominoes at the pub, Lucille’s hen party was a hilariously raucous affair as Sister Hilda (Fenella Woolgar) demonstrated a delicious streak of naughtiness when she laced the punch with copious amounts of booze!
Unfortunately, bride-to-be Lucille ended up rather tipsy and tripped on the stairs, hitting her face. The next morning, she was a sight to behold with a swollen, closed-up eyelid that make-up would never fix and the normally unflappable nurse was tearful and terrified that she would never make it up the aisle.
But, good old Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) came up with an archaic and pretty gruesome plan for Dr Turner (Stephen McGann) to use leeches to suck out the blood and reduce the swelling. Following scenes that might have put some people off their Christmas pudding, the parasites worked their magic and Lucille could finally become Mrs Robinson!
As Lucille walked down the stairs at Nonnatus in her dazzling wedding dress, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and after a gorgeous ceremony featuring a tabernacle choir, the newlyweds finally began their married life together.
Of course, despite all the wedding shenanigans, it wouldn’t be Call the Midwife without a birth or two, but the gang were absolutely run off their feet with countless mums-to-be who all went into labour ready for Christmas.
While an experienced mum with high blood pressure and another with a haemorrhage gave cause for concern, the increasingly plucky Sister Frances (Ella Brucolleri) was both scared and a wee bit thrilled when she tackled her first breech birth as her anxious patient gave birth at home.
But the episode’s most poignant birth story came from a surprisingly unfestive but wonderfully compelling, eye-opening look at the horrors of drug addiction. Troubled, nervy young gangster’s wife Anita Page (a brilliantly heartfelt guest performance from Outlander’s Rosie Day) was clearly trying to keep a lid on her problems, even when Dr Turner and son Tim (Max Macmillan) went to treat an injured gang member in her home.
After trying to hide both her addiction to heroin and the fact she had gone into labour, Anita was finally taken into the maternity home where she gave birth to a baby girl, but she then received the devastating news that the infant had been born with a drug addiction, leading Anita to then open up about her own terrible childhood.
Thankfully, Mother Mildred (Miriam Margolyes), who was paying a visit from the Mother House, had seen children with drug dependency when she worked in the Far East and knew the treatment to recommend. Shelagh (Laura Main) was then pleased to be able to help to nurse the baby back to health – something she felt bad she hadn’t been around to do for her little foster daughter May (April Rae Hoang) when she was a baby.
Despite the wedding worries and the dramatic births, there was still plenty of festive cheer on offer in the episode as Miss Higgins (Georgie Glen) and Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) laid on a nativity play featuring the Turner children and their little pals, while Fred (Cliff Parisi) did his usual turn as Santa.
Meanwhile, Mother Mildred gave a spellbinding reading from A Christmas Carol at Nonnatus House with Charles Dickens aficionado Miriam Margolyes clearly in her element!
There were also some tantalising glimpses of potential future romance for stylish midwife Trixie (Helen George) and widower Matthew (Olly Rix) as they met up once more…
To top it all, Reggie’s (Daniel Laurie) wish for snow at Christmas was granted and Cyril and Lucille even had a pre-wedding dance in the resulting winter wonderland. Aww!
When will ‘Call the Midwife’ return?
There’s not too long to wait until the new eight-part season 11 of the period drama, which starts on BBC1 on Sunday, Jan. 2 at 8pm and will air in the US on PBS at a later date.