PBS will air Call the Midwife‘s Christmas special on Christmas Day, December 25, and the episode will be set in 1960s South Africa, rather than in the streets and tenements of London. In addition, the earlier incarnation of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).
According to Anglican News:
In the Christmas special, the Revd Tom Hereward and a number of the Sisters and midwives are sent by SPG, as USPG was known in the 1960s; to help a struggling clinic in South Africa.
Today’s USPG played a significant role in helping the BBC to research the episode, including input from Canon Edgar Ruddock, who was a missionary in South Africa in the 1980s.
“I had a lengthy phone conversation with the key researcher who tapped into my knowledge of the 1980s when many church-founded hospitals were still operating across rural southern Africa,” Ruddock explained. “I was also able to point them to various older colleagues who had worked there as doctors or nurses during the 1960s.”
The episode’s move to Africa is the latest effort by the show’s creators to shine light on historical injustices. From The Telegraph:
…once again the writers and producers of the BBC One drama have not shied away from shining a spotlight on some of the more controversial issues of the day – including the institutionalised racism which condemns the team’s patients to poverty and substandard health care.
Call the Midwife writer Heidi Thomas, who has previously tackled the thalidomide scandal, backstreet abortion, domestic violence and the Pill, said she deliberately wanted to move the show’s Christmas audience to anger.
She said: “A lot of people used to think Call the Midwife was about nostalgia, but we’re constantly trying to push the envelope in tackling of social issues.
“We often tell the story of people who are in a minority and it says something about the British viewing public that a minority subject ges a majority audience.”
Thomas added: “We have a passion for the way history well told can reflect the way we lived our lives. That passion leads to compassion. Passion, compassion and anger are all there in our Christmas story.”