I have now seen all of season 1 and the beginning of season 2, and I am addicted!
It takes place in east london in the late 1950s, and is based on the memoirs of a real nurse. I follows the lives of several nurses and nuns who work as midwives in a poor and working class neighborhood, as they share in the struggles, joys, and tragedies of the families they help. As such, the show is a glimpse into british working class life in the late 50s, almost completely from women's perspectives.
And there is political relevance today, especially for the US. The National Health Service is frequently mentioned, as it was new at the time, and they discuss the things it made possible that were not possible just a few years before.
The nuns are amazing. They are open minded, non-critical, non-judgmental, and they unconditionally care for everyone they can help. They approve of whatever people must do to survive, or that can make their lives just a little bit better. As midwives among a baby boom and poverty, one even observes that the arduous birthrate will continue "until they invent a miracle elixir to make it all stop". In other words, they are not opposed to birth control!
It is such a refreshing change from the hypocritical extremes of religion that seem to dominate our news, and a reminder that there is so much more variety than the extremist nonsense that makes it to the news.
But the heart of the show is the characters, the women and their friendships, their joys and sorrows. I have officially fallen in love with all of the main characters! But I think my favorites are Chummy, Peter the Police Constable, and Sister Monica Joan. Sister Monica Joan is so funny, no-one knows whether she is senile or just eccentric, so she knows she can get away with anything!
I highly recommend this show. It is funny, sad, moving, touching, and powerful. It has it's share of tragedies, and is sometimes grim, but ultimately the human spirit (and british sensibilities) survive through it all.
If you are in the US, the PBS website is streaming season 1 until April 17, plus what has aired so far of season 2. Give it a try.
Here is the streaming link at PBS. Alternately, you might find the season 1 DVD in a library.
Edited to add DVD links, if anyone wishes to purchase them.
The DVDs are for sale in America, Canada, and England.
Edited by Sci-Fi Girl, 11 April 2013 - 10:09 PM.