Cliff Parisi plays Fred Buckle in Call The Midwife.
Talk us through what happens to your character in this season.
Fred becomes a feminist in this series! He starts off with male chauvinism by osmosis really. It’s the period. But he comes round and realises that Vi has a lot more to offer. Vi is the boss of the household, and she is soon to become the boss of the entire borough. She is slowly, slowly grabbing power. And Fred supports her in that.
Is Fred based on anyone you know?
I have drawn on some people I know for the character of Fred. He’s partly based on one particular friend of mine, who is a taxi driver. I’ve known him since we were 12 years old. So Fred is a bit of him. And also, sometimes I draw on my dad. Fred occasionally says things that I can hear my dad saying. But it’s a mishmash in the end. Above all, you get inspired by the writing. All the keys to the dialogue lie in the writing. But if something that is in the dialogue reminds you of someone, then you draw on how they may say that particular line or show that attitude.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of filming this series?
The action takes place in winter, but we film in summer and we’ve had a really hot summer. So we’ve had the scarves, hats, gloves, jumpers and coats on during the height of summer and been stuck inside a very small room with an entire film crew with no air conditioning and very hot lights, pretending we’re cold! It’s difficult not to get a little bit fractious. After a whole day, sometimes it all gets a bit scratchy. Yes, there have been some tough days, but we all know it’s for a good cause! We love working here.
What was it like working with Miriam Margolyes?
It was brilliant. That’s one ticked off my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to work with her, she’s so funny. Years ago, I did a read-through with her, and she made me laugh my head off. Subsequently I’ve watched pretty much everything she’s been in. All of a sudden she is on the set, and we are doing a road movie together. It’s like Driving Miss Daisy. She’s fantastic and really good fun. So in the last couple of episodes, I was roaring with laughter. The only problem was, I kept getting her name wrong. I kept calling her “Mother Miriam” instead of Mother Mildred. I’m getting old, that’s all it is!
What have you learned from working on Call The Midwife?
I’ve learnt a lot more about gardening, boilers, old vans, double de-clutching. But above all, I’ve learnt everything there is to know about 1950s and 60s bicycles!