Terri Coates is the Midwife Adviser on Call The Midwife.
Why you think this drama has been so popular?
Birth is something that touches absolutely everyone. It’s a thing that unites everyone. We’ve all been born. Every woman who’s ever had a child has a story about it – and those stories have never been told before. Before the 1980s, men weren’t even allowed into the birth rooms.
How do you go about teaching the cast to play midwives convincingly?
They are all involved with birth stories. I make time to rehearse with them all. I also get them to move around with a prosthetic bump on and get them to talk about how they would feel if they were pregnant. I show them models of babies and the way a baby comes out. I can’t give them four and a half years’ training in half an hour, but I try to make them look convincing.
What has been the impact of the series?
Young women have seen that there is another career in medicine that they could pursue. It’s not just about nursing. They could go into midwifery. Midwifery saw a huge upsurge in applications after the first series went out. Now, certain clips from Call The Midwife are used by midwifery tutors to show different aspects of care, such as breech delivery and good communication between midwives and mothers.
What other effects has the drama had?
Call the Midwife has also given families the opportunity to talk about things they wouldn’t otherwise find it easy to talk about, like female and male reproductive health, homosexuality and domestic violence. I know parents sit down with their children and talk about these things because they’re within the safe realm of drama. We’ve given people a great opportunity to discuss important issues.
Pictured: Lesley Whyte (Jordon Stevens)