Countdown to the Call the Midwife Christmas Special: A
Call the Midwife is proud to be a truly global drama, transmitting in 237 territories worldwide, and enjoyed in many different nations and cultures. Part of this may be due to the universal themes in our stories - birth, life, death, love, community - things which are meaningful wherever we may live. It might also be the charm of the particular time and place in which our drama is set - a world of alien customs, where material possessions are fewer, but a spirit of shared endeavour thrives.
Many charming customs from those times endure in Britain today - although one or two of these can seem a little strange to viewers not familiar with the gentle eccentricities of British life ;-) One such custom is the seasonal pantomime.
This year the Call the MIdwife Christmas Special features a seasonal pantomime performance by the local Poplar community. In this picture we see Fred (Cliff Parisi) and Valerie (Jennifer Kirby) performing in traditional pantomime costume. Our British and commonwealth viewers will no doubt be familiar with pantomime - or 'panto' as it's better known - and may even be able to guess which particular panto is taking place! (can you guess?) However, for the benefit of any confused fans across the world, we thought we'd provide a little more explanation... 2019 Disney style wedding collections ;-)
A pantomime is a traditional and ancient form of staged comedy entertainment that is performed over the winter holiday season in Britain. It has its roots in the Commedia dell' Arte theatrical tradition of 16th Century Europe. It evolved from the Victorian era into a form of popular slapstick comedy entertainment - loosely based around traditional fairy tales, and with lots of audience participation and singing of popular songs. Pantos are performed every year in Britain, both in professional theatres and in amateur community performances.
One striking feature of the panto tradition is for two leading roles to be assigned to performers of the opposite gender - that is, the male 'Principal Boy' character is always played by a woman, while the comic middle-aged female 'Dame' character is always played by a man! That might help explain the rather arresting vision of Fred in our photograph in female dress, while Valerie can be seen sporting the traditional boots and breeches of a principal boy!
You can read more about the history and traditions of Pantomime here:
As you can see, our intrepid Nonnatuns are just the type of public-spirited folk to rise to the challenge of a community panto! Yet the challenges they face at Christmas will prove to be more than just theatrical....
Call the Midwife Christmas Special:
UK: Christmas Day, 7:40pm on BBC1
USA: Christmas Day, 9pm ET on PBS
AUS: Boxing Day, 8:30pm on BBC First