BBC, PBS to Call The Midwife to the US

BBC Worldwide America Sales & Distribution and PBS announced Tuesday the sale of the first season of British drama, Call The Midwife to PBS.

The series will premiere on September 30, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. leading into “Upstairs Downstairs,” transforming Sunday nights into a destination for drama on PBS.

Written by Heidi Thomas (“Cranford,” “Upstairs Downstairs”) and directed by Philippa Lowthorpe (“Five Daughters”) and Jamie Payne (“The Hour”), Call The Midwife completed its first season in the UK on BBC ONE in February 2012.

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A second season has been commissioned and will air in the UK in 2013. Call The Midwife is a Neal Street production for BBC. Executive Produced by Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road, “The Hollow Crown”) and Heidi Thomas. The series is produced by Hugh Warren (“Survivors”).

“Call The Midwife is a riveting new series that strengthens PBS as a destination for drama on Sunday nights,” said Paula Kerger, PBS president and CEO. “We look forward to working with our BBC partners to introduce the story and the characters that were so beloved in Britain to the American audience.”

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Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call The Midwife is a moving and intimate story of midwifery in London’s East End in the 1950s. The first season follows a young Jenny Lee as she and her fellow midwives, attached to an order of nursing nuns, navigate the crowded East End streets teeming with children, workers and a culture remarkably different from the wealthy English countryside where Jenny was raised.

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The drama unfolds as Jenny meets her patients, including one woman who is on her 25th pregnancy and a young, 15 year-old prostitute pregnant for the first time. Initially shocked by the health and living conditions of the East End, Jenny soon learns to admire the families she works with, along with the sisters and fellow midwives who witness the daily drama of life in this vibrant community.

Full episodes of Call The Midwife will be available for viewing on the PBS Video Portal for 30 days after each national broadcast.

Photo: Cynthia (Bryony Hannah), Jenny (Jessica Raine), Trixie (Helen George) Credit: Laurence Cendrowicz/Neal Street Productions 2011

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Rakesh Raman