'Call the Midwife' Recap: Season 11 Episode 1

The Easter babies of Poplar. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Nealstreet Productions)

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Neal Street Productions

Welcome back to an all-new season of Call the Midwife! It’s the spring of 1967, Easter has just been celebrated, and new beginnings abound in Poplar. Lucille and her hubby Cyril have settled nicely into married life in their apartment above the newsagent's shop. If you want to revisit their holiday wedding from the 2021 Christmas special, our recap has you covered.

Much of Poplar is abuzz about the U.K’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest: “Puppet on a String” by Sandie Shaw. (The song did win that year, by the way.) Violet Buckle has decorated her haberdashery shop with flags, a microphone, and a marionette. Reggie’s birthday party is almost ruined when the family TV goes bust, but Sister Julienne acquiesces and invites everyone to watch the “frivolous event” on the Nonnatus set.

Nancy Corrigan (Megan Cusack) is now a full-fledged midwife after passing her exams. She’s earning a wage and has plans in a year or two to get a place for her and her daughter Colette (Francesca Fullilove). Currently, Colette is staying with a foster family and still believes Nancy is her sister. The young girl isn’t settling in well at her new school, so Nancy decides it’s time to tell her the truth.

Teddy Turner and Nurse Shelagh Turner  (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions)
Teddy Turner and Nurse Shelagh Turner  (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions)

They have a chat about details and respectability and working hard for the future. Nancy’s not exactly direct enough in her explanation for Colette to grasp all the facts, but at least now the child knows she has a home with Nancy. Maybe that will help her feel more like she belongs.

Of course, nothing says a fresh start more than a newborn babe so viewers were surely touched to see the return of last season’s Audrey (Kathryn Wilder) and Derek Fleming (Jack Colgrave Hirst). Call the Midwife fans no doubt remember their heartbreaking storyline from Season 10—the loss of their son from a serious birth defect likely caused by Derek’s exposure to radiation during his military service. The couple left Poplar for a while to recover and grieve, but now they’re back home and expecting a new addition to their family!

Obviously, the pair are worried that they might suffer another traumatic birth as they did with their son, Christopher. The Nonnatus staff repeatedly assure the Flemings that all indications point to a healthy baby.

Derek (Jack Colgrave Hirst) and Audrey Fleming (Kathryn Wilder)  (Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions)
Derek (Jack Colgrave Hirst) and Audrey Fleming (Kathryn Wilder) from Season 10 (Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions)

Meanwhile, Audrey hands over her notes on the soldiers affected by nuclear bomb testing to Sister Julienne. The mother-to-be wants a break from thinking about it. The bundle of energy that is Shelagh Turner takes over the organizing of the information while stuck at home nursing her houseful of chicken pox-ridden children.

Focused on doing what they can control in their lives, Mrs. Fleming also coaxes her husband to attend Sister Hildla’s smoking cessation lecture.  Derek's already at risk of developing stomach cancer and she needs him healthy and around of a long time to come. He agrees to give quitting a try.

Audrey arrives at the maternity hospital at the start of her labor. She’s attended by Sister Julienne, Nurse Franklin, and Dr. Turner The team helps her deliver a healthy baby girl named Elizabeth Christine. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief for the grateful and proud parents.

In another less joyous tale, the remains of a baby are discovered under some floorboards in one of the dilapidated buildings being overhauled by Trixie’s friend Matthew Alyward (Ollie Rix). A police officer, DS Virginia Barrow (Lu Corfield) is tasked with finding who is responsible and is consulting with Dr. Turner and his staff. It turns out the building was a nurses’ home during the war, but the infant appears to have been buried pre-WWII.  

(Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions)
(Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions)

DS Barrow shows Patrick the name of the only family still in Poplar who could have lived in the building during the time frame of her investigation. He recognizes Mrs. Nyall as a district patient and requests a nurse join the officer when she meets with the mother (who suffers from senile dementia) and daughter (who has a history of mental instability).

Nurse Crane accompanies the detective to the Nyall residence. The daughter, Marigold (Rebecca Johnson) insists that they only speak with her since her mother is having one of her “delicate days.” Pretty quickly into the discussion, Miss Nyall reveals that her mother, a respectable widow, had two babies eighteen months apart and they never told a soul about it. Her mother can no longer remember the traumatic births, but she can't forget them.

In fact, when Burrows questions Mrs. Nyall (Elizabeth Counsell) she seems only able to recall the birth of Marigold. In private, Nurse Crane confides to the police officer that Mrs. Nyall has a significant cesarean scar that doesn’t match up with Marigold’s story.

While police are sent to locate the second set of remains, Dr. Turner comes to the Nyall home to gently confront Marigold with the facts. Marigold was delivered via c-section and her mother had a hysterectomy immediately after to save her life. She could have no more children after that. At this point, Miss Nyall admits she gave birth to the babies and hid their bodies.

(Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions)
(Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions)

Marigold is taken to the police station to be interviewed under caution. Nurse Crane is allowed to stay with her while they await the solicitor. Miss Nyall reveals she had a boy first in October 1936. She speaks of the rumors about the King and Wallace Simpson and the plight of fallen women. She admits she had an affair with a married man who took advantage of her for years. Most importantly she reveals that both her son and daughter were stillborn. DS Burrow decides at this juncture to have Marigold examined by a psychiatrist.

We learn that Miss Nyall will not be charged with any crime. The psychiatrist said she wouldn't be able to pass as fit to stand trial and besides they really had very little evidence besides the remains. Nurse Crane hopes the report will suggest Marigold has suffered enough. In the end, we see the Nyall babies have been laid to rest and Trixie and Matthew are there to lay flowers upon their shared grave.

And so it begins! How did you feel about season 11’s debut episode? Are you hoping Trixie and Matthew get closer? They've been through an awful lot together. Are there other characters you’d like to see get more screen time this year? Let’s chat about your thoughts and expectations in the comments!

Carmen Croghan

Carmen Croghan often looks at the state of her British addiction and wonders how it got so out of hand.  Was it the re-runs of Monty Python on PBS, that second British Invasion in the 80’s or the royal pomp and pageantry of Charles and Diana’s wedding? Whatever the culprit, it led her to a college semester abroad in London and over 25 years of wishing she could get back to the UK again.  Until she is able, she fills the void with British telly, some of her favorites being comedies such as The Office, The IT Crowd, Gavin and Stacey, Alan Partridge, Miranda and Green Wing. Her all-time favorite series, however, is Life On Mars. A part-time reference library staffer, she spends an inordinate amount of time watching just about any British series she can track down which she then writes about for her own blog Everything I Know about the UK, I Learned from the BBC.  She is excited to be contributing to Telly Visions and endeavors to share her Anglo-zeal with its readers.