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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Call the Midwife - Season Eight'
(Helen George, Miriam Margolyes, Judy Parfitt, Laura Main, Stephen McGann, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)

Overview: The hugely successful drama returns with more laughter, tears and inspiring stories.

'Call the Midwife' follows the nuns and nurses as they provide the expectant mothers of Poplar with the best possible care.

Series 8 continues to explore complex medical and personal situations on the midwifery and district nursing rounds.

DVD Verdict: It is now 1964 and it’s evident how the times are changing: from the beacon of the contraceptive pill and the shadow of the 1967 Abortion Act, to the introduction of a new cancer-screening program.

The nuns and nurses continue to face a variety of challenging issues including interracial adoption, cleft palate, sickle cell and cot death. And for one of the team, romance could be on the horizon!

For my money, and I won't harp on this particular point more than this opening salvo, but the writers of 'Call the Midwife' have taken a very political, yet extremely ironical stance toward the very subject that is at the heart of the show: ushering new life into the world.

In this season - which features eight episodes - we are made to feel sympathetic and guilty about women who did not have access to "safe" abortions. While legal abortion brought "safety" to the mother, it brought about an agonizing end of life to the child, obviously.

Anyway, as I said I wouldn't harp on it, allow me to end this train of thought here by saying it seems outrageous (to me) to see the normally life-affirming character Dr. Turner express distraught over not being able to "help" a woman terminate her baby.

So the midwives are capable, it seems, of an unconscionable duality: celebrating life on the one hand while championing the right to its destruction on the other, I guess.

But, the fact that now here in this eighth season we are seeing such decisions being not only explored but made just means, for me, that there has been no episode so far that left me feeling so mouth agape and so moved in equal measure.

A masterpiece of a series that tackles many issues that still concern modern society today, and even though medicine has been pushed forward, there are still people who are impoverished, who lack education or who are battling with mental health issues or discrimination; much like they are shown in this captivating show.

'Call the Midwife' has always demonstrated these issues with great delicacy and thus is such a moving and honest mouth piece for such that it gives you food for thought each and every episode.

The acting is, of course, superb, the stories are interesting and often poignant (as noted above), and each always has an element of hope sewn lovingly within.

They all depict the resilience of the human spirit and I love how faith and love are integrated into everything, with honest, genuine portrayal of the pained wrestling which occurs during terrible circumstances of pain and grief.

In closing, and for those not in the know, this series is based on the best-selling memoirs, Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth, who died six months before the first episode aired.

The series depicts, in part, and has been expanded upon, her work as a district nurse and midwife in the East End of London during the 1950's and 1960's.

Obviously, story lines needed to be expanded to create a long-running series such as this, but that does not hinder the enjoyment of the program, and in fact, probably adds to it, as it allows for development of new and existing characters.

Every single cast member is believable. The acting of everyone is phenomenal and realistic. The writers have done an exceptional job with the scripts. The sets seem to be relatively accurate for the time period. Thus, you really couldn't ask for a better, more realistic series of this ilk. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Content of:

Behind The Scenes of Season Eight (Featurette)

EPISODE 1 - It's Spring time, and with extra help needed in Poplar, Mother Mildred decides to send Sister Frances and Sister Hilda to Nonnatus House, where they will live and work.

EPISODE 2 - Lucille is deeply concerned by her elderly patient, Clarice Milgrove's living conditions. She is a hoarder living alone among towering piles of rubbish, books and tins of food with a malodorous leg ulcer.

EPISODE 3 – Measles is becoming rife in the East End and Dr Turner decides to educated the mothers and hopes to start a trial on Measles vaccination. Meanwhile a grieving mother is distress with her daughters health and can not accept she is ok.

EPISODE 4 – Sister Julienne is drawn into a family rift between an estranged mother and daughter who are both pregnant. Meanwhile Nurse Crane realizes she has an admirer, and Sister Frances' shyness starts to concern Sister Julienne.

EPISODE 5 – The prospect of a new romance for Lucille brightens the mood at Nonnatus House and the husband of an expectant mother suffers with some inexplicable pains, similar to his wife's pregnancy symptoms.

EPISODE 6 – Mother Mildred returns and helps a docker family tackle end-stage pneumoconiosis. Lucille cares for an unmarried teenage mother who wants to keep her baby.

EPISODE 7 – Mother Mildred decides it's time for Sister Frances to attend her first solo birth. Trixie consoles a patient who discovers she has gonorrhea.

EPISODE 8 – Sister Hilda digs deep to give her terminally-ill patient her final wish whilst the Turners must prepare to say goodbye to May. Fred and Reggie are keeping secrets from each other.