...I wasn't sure I would like this series. And I nearly didn't get past the first episode; all that blood and guts, not expected for a programme broadcast before the nine o'clock watershed. But it is a sign of the maturity of the very best TV drama (and that almost always means the BBC) that reality doesn't get left behind in the desire to 'entertain'. Luckily, a friend encouraged me to keep with the series, and it has been rewarding in a number of ways.
The key to good drama is story, cast and direction. This has the lot. The (real) tale of NHS midwives in late '50s East End London. A step into the past. The positives - that sense of community, of progress and hope, of friendships; the negatives - the overcrowding, the poverty, the filth. And I like the way we are constantly reminded of how far things had progressed with the advent of the National Health Service some years earlier (whilst some of us look on aghast as it is now being taken apart).
The casting is a dream. Jenny Agutter, surely one of the most versatile (and under-rated?) of actresses. Jessica Raine, almost child -like. And it was a stroke of genius to have Miranda Hart playing the lovely Chummy, bringing some light to balance the darker moments.
This may sound ridiculous, but there is a comparison here with Dad's Army: a collection of interesting and likeable people doing good.
But it is also quite moving, a rare thing indeed.
No wonder this has been such a surprise hit.