Call The Midwife is the perfect Christmas day show; it’s got all the emotion and all of the fuzzy feelings. For the 2016 Christmas special, the nurses skip off to South Africa... so don't be expecting any snow...
We caught up with one of the show’s stars, Charlotte Ritchie (Call The Midwife’s Barbara and formally known as Fresh Meat’s Oregon), who shared her behind-the-scenes photo diary with us. Prepare for some fabulous 50s costumes, fake sunburn and pure escapism.
"It was absolutely boiling filming in the midday heat up at 'Bontebok Ridge'. I have so much respect for all the supporting actors who were so patient and hard working while we sweated away in the sun. The girl in the photo was so lovely. It was unusual to talk to someone the same age as me with an entirely different life - she lived in a township in Cape Town. We were both laughing at Steven who is often causing havoc on set or singing and dancing, which always helps the day go faster..."
"I was constantly made up with sunburn (red and brown make up), sweat (Egyptian magic face mouisturiser) greasy hair and dirt. I'd come to work looking respectable and by the time we got on set I'd be completely discheveled to the point that I got double-takes from members of the crew. Barbara doesn't travel well, it seems, and had never been abroad so wasn't quite ready for the sun and the heat."
"What was lovely about this episode was how much time Barbara and Trixie spend together. After the last series was so rocky for them, the trip to South Africa was a really lovely time for them to help each other. And actually, I absolutely loved being able to spend so much time with Helen. We had a whole month in Cape Town, all staying in the same hotel. Everybody in the cast and the crew relished the chance to go for drinks together in the evening and really spend proper time together. At least, I hope they did...."
"It is such an honour to work with so many Iconic actresses (including Judy Parfitt, Jenny Agutter, Linda Bassett and Pam Ferris). I've learned so much from everyone in the cast and they are all so generous and supportive. It's such an unusual show to be about women's issues with an almost entirely female ensemble cast, and it is such a pleasure to work with so many talented actors and actresses, many of whom I've admired for a long time."
"I love this photo so much because Linda (Basset) kept making us Howl with laughter every time she said 'African skies'. Nurse crane is so wonderful and so funny. This was just after we'd met a tarantula and also almost got run over by some nearby cows. There were so many animals around."
"That's me and Terry, the real life midwife. She's always on hand to help with the babies and advice on what to do - here she's helping me take the temperature of the baby by putting a thermometer under the armpit. The babies are such divas. They come from a local agency. Always sleeping. Crying. Eating. To be fair, they are the stars of the show and are very sweet and lovely and make the set all quiet and nice."
Charlotte Ritchie stars in the Call The Midwife Christmas special at 8pm on BBC1