The cast of Call the Midwife have become like family to the show's huge number of dedicated fans, and soon they will be welcoming a new member as Leonie Elliott joins the team as new character, Jamaican nurse Lucille Anderson.
The character will be a former librarian turned midwife, but what of the actress playing her?
Leonie Edwards, 29, has had small parts in a number of popular shows, as well as appearing in high-profile stage productions, but nothing compared to the audience that will be watching her in latest role.
Having trained at the Identity School of Acting in London, where Star Wars star John Boyega also studied, she appeared in the West End production of The Lion King and UK touring production of Annie before her first film role, 2003's Wondrous Oblivion.
After minor roles in series such as Holby and the Bill, her first high-profile role was as the love interest Cherry Patterson in Lenny Henry's 2015 television comedy-drama Danny and the Human Zoo, a fictionalised account of the comedian's own upbringing.
The following year she appeared in the Black Mirror episode entitled Hated by the Nation, and she added an appearance in Casualty to that in its sister programme Holby, before landing her biggest role yet in Call the Midwife.
Lucille's character will introduce audiences to the part played in the rapidly growing National Health Service by immigrant nurses, particularly from the Caribbean.
How does Lucille's arrival impact on the drama?
Leonie: "When Lucille delivers a baby for one family, the grandmother of the child is not pleased to see her, saying she doesn’t want a foreign midwife to look after her daughter. When complications set in days later, the grandmother believes it’s because Lucille delivered the baby. Of course this is ridiculous but that is her view and she takes a firm stance on that.
My parents and grandparents are Jamaican so I drew upon some of their experiences. Sometimes it’s not very nice, but I feel that we’ve come a long way since the 60s. I feel that through my storyline I’ve been able to get to know more my parents’ and my grandparents’ history, and what they had to go through. Obviously, it’s great that we’ve come a long way since then."
Jennifer Kirby (who plays Valerie Dyer): "When an old school friend of Valerie’s goes into labour at the hairdressers on Valerie’s day off, she telephones Lucille for backup. When Lucille arrives she encounters racism, and for Valerie this is a major turning point. Valerie has to address the fact that some of the people she has lived with her whole life - her family, her friends – are people who have very wrong views and she realises that she needs to speak up. Lucille is her very good friend now, and someone who she feels protective of. Valerie has always felt strongly about injustice, and this behaviour puts the topic in front of her, and she can't avoid it."
What will happen to Lucille across series 7?
Leonie: "Lucille meets a young Jamaican mother called Alicia Palmer and they strike up a friendship. Alicia invites her to a weekly Sunday gathering. Her husband is a pastor and they gather, sing hymns and worship because, I suppose at the time, their experience of mainstream church was not the most pleasant. So once a week they gather in Alicia’s front room and her husband carries out the service. That was a really interesting and touching storyline.
"I think for any immigrant to come here it’s hard because you want to fit in. Lucille is torn: she wants to fit in, but also wants to have reminders of home and some home comforts, which is what Alicia provides. At the beginning Lucille is quite conflicted because if she goes to Alicia’s is she then not trying to fit in? But she soon realises she might be able to have both, to have some home comforts now and again, and still fit into her new world.
"Just being in London is an interesting journey for Lucille. I don’t think Lucille has ever experienced city life before; she’s had her rural upbringing and her training in Somerset. It’s been an eye opener for her, and she’s made some great friends like Valerie and Phyllis, and I suppose she’s been toughened up by some of the experiences she’s faced."
Call the Midwife returns for its seventh season on Sunday, January 21 at 8pm on BBC One.
Catch up with BT TV via the BBC iPlayer app.