Call the Midwife's "baby" Actors

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of May 29, 2017

Tea Time Tidbit

The Turner Family

Breaking news! You won’t have to wait until the December 25th Call the Midwife Christmas Special to find out the name of the Turner family’s brand new baby boy! Series creator Heidi Thomas recently revealed that his full name is Edward Patrick Turner, but he’ll be known as “baby Teddy”!

I thought Laura Main, who plays baby Teddy’s mom, Shelagh Turner, did a wonderful job in that last episode – especially given that the actress has never had children of her own and hasn’t experienced giving birth. To prepare, Main worked with the series’ midwifery adviser, Teri Coates. She also apparently found videos of people giving birth on YouTube. As Main told the Radio Times it was “pretty difficult to watch! But the women have no inhibitions and they are very inspiring.” Main also confessed in the interview that the scene made her “want to have a baby of my own.”

Tea Time Tidbit

Laura Main and Jenny Agutter
in the birth scene

All of the newborn babies used in Call the Midwife, by the way, are real newborns with each series using about 60 to 70 babies. Although the show gets lots of requests from expectant mothers asking if they’d like to use their babies when they are born, because they need to use babies that are born around the show’s production schedule, the producers have to decline the requests. Instead, the newborns they use, who are up to eight weeks old, come via a specialist talent agency. That way they can meet any special requirements, such as ethnicity, or baby size.

Tea Time Tidbit

A "jelly baby", used for rehearsals

Fake babies – known as "jelly babies" because of the silicone material from which they are made – are used during the birthing scene rehearsals, but the minute the cameras start rolling, it’s the real babies' turn for the spotlight. According to series producer Ann Tricklebank, the baby is passed “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.” Grape juice and stage blood provide the authentic newborn slipperiness.

As you can imagine, there are strict rules and regulations about how long the babies can be used for on set, so if the scene being filmed involves a difficult birth, they’ll use newborn twins so they can have double the filming time. The working conditions are also geared around the baby "actors" needs. “The room is as warm and quiet as possible,” Tricklebank told the Radio Times. “Our crew is well used to babies. They know when the baby arrives on set, they must all be quiet and still.” As for the babies’ mothers – they are either on the set, or watching on a nearby monitor, no doubt being thankful that someone else is going through the labor pains!

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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