It’s been voted the best period drama of the 21st century by viewers, so it’s no surprise there's something of a buzz about the return of Call The Midwife to our screens.
Fans are chomping at the bit for new instalments of the goings on at Nonnatus House and stories of the expectant mothers of Poplar, and the good news is that they won’t have too long to wait.
Here's what we know so far about the forthcoming series seven of BBC One’s viewer favourite.
When can I see the new series?
We don’t have an official date to count down to yet, but what we do know for sure is that eight brand new episodes of Call The Midwife will be delivered by BBC One in 2018.
Earlier this year, we saw series six play out during February and March, so we’re hoping it won’t be too far into the New Year before the first episode airs.
If even that seems like too much of a wait, you’re in luck as there will be a special festive episode this Christmas to look forward to.
Are there any cast changes?
The midwives and nuns of Nonnatus House are set to welcome a new arrival – Nurse Lucille Anderson, played by Leonie Elliott. Her storyline will reflect the changing times of the 1960s as Caribbean nurses began to make their way to the UK to bolster the growing NHS. Described as elegant, funny and clever, we can’t wait to get to know Lucille better.
Executive producer Pippa Harris said: “We can’t wait to introduce the audience to our new midwife Lucille, played by the hugely talented and captivating Leonie Elliott. From her first audition Leonie managed to embody the essence of this elegant, intelligent, witty character whom [series creator and writer] Heidi Thomas has created with her customary skill.
"Lucille is a fantastic addition to the Nonnatus House team and we know she will be warmly welcomed by the nuns and midwives."
Earlier this year, three actresses announced that they would not be returning for the next run of the show. Original cast member Bryony Hannah played Sister Mary Cynthia who was admitted to a mental institute in series six and will not be back in 2018. Emerald Fennell said that she would be leaving her role as Nurse Patsy Mount to concentrate on writing, and Kate Lamb has also exited as Delia Busby.
The returning cast includes Jenny Agutter as Sister Julienne, Linda Bassett as Nurse Crane, Judy Parfitt as Sister Monica Joan, recent new mum Helen George as Trixie, Laura Main as Shelagh Turner, Charlotte Ritchie as Barbara, Victoria Yeates as Sister Winifred, Jennifer Kirby as Valerie, Stephen McGann as Dr Turner, Jack Ashton as Tom, Cliff Parisi as Fred, Annabelle Apsion as Violet, Max Macmillan as Timothy, and Jack Hawkins as Christopher.
Where will the storyline take us next?
Call The Midwife’s Christmas special kicks off an especially tough winter for the gang – the Big Freeze of 1963, the coldest season in 300 years which brought the country to a standstill with power cuts and frozen pipes.
The snowy landscape is sure to cause all manner of problems for the midwives on their rounds, but the weather isn’t the only thing they have to contend with.
As the drama progresses through the 1960s, the midwives and nuns see the old East End of London changing as the slums are cleared to make way for a new wave of tower blocks to accommodate the expanding population.
Their work sees them come into contact with patients with leprosy, tokophobia, stroke, Huntingdon’s Chorea and cataracts.
Relationships continue to drive the storyline as Trixie and Christopher’s romance develops, Tom and Barbara settle into married life, and the Turners employ an au pair. Nurse Crane will encounter an unexpected challenge to her authority, while Sister Monica Joan will be forced to accept that her faculties are failing her.
Creator, writer and executive producer Heidi Thomas said: “The friendships, struggles and triumphs of women remain at the heart of Call The Midwife as we swing into 1963. With new mums ranging from a stripper to an Asian child bride, series seven will see our beloved Nonnatus House team stretched to the limit, as they face a series of medical, social and emotional challenges.”
Can I be sure of more Call The Midwife after the series ends?
Don’t worry, there’s no chance that series seven will be the final instalment. After it was named most popular period drama of the 21st century in the BFI and Radio Times Festival Audience Poll, that the BBC ordered three more series and accompanying Christmas specials.
That means that even after series seven wraps, we can expect to welcome back the programme until at least 2020.
Call The Midwife returns to BBC One in December for a Christmas special and series seven will air in 2018.