Judy Parfitt: 'Call The Midwife' not ‘woke’ enough to win a Bafta

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Kerry Martin
·4 min read
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Call The Midwife - S10:  Nurse Phyllis Crane (LINDA BASSETT), Nurse Trixie (HELEN GEORGE), Nurse Lucille Anderson  (LEONIE ELLIOTT) (Neal Street Productions/Nicky Johnston/Sophie Mutevelian)
Call The Midwife - S10: Nurse Phyllis Crane (LINDA BASSETT), Nurse Trixie (HELEN GEORGE), Nurse Lucille Anderson (LEONIE ELLIOTT) (Neal Street Productions/Nicky Johnston/Sophie Mutevelian)

Call the Midwife's Judy Parfitt says Bafta voters are too 'woke' to vote for the BBC drama. The period drama has never being nominated for a single TV Bafta after 10 years on screen.

Parfitt, 85 who plays Sister Monica Joan in the series, said that the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) voters want to “appear woke and feel that they can’t nominate Call The Midwife.”

Asked by the Radio Times if she thought it was because the show was too ‘cosy’ she said:

“I’d never call it that, [cosy]. We’ve dealt with incest, thalidomide – everything you can think of. But what’s interesting is that you don’t see it nominated for Baftas.”

“People want to be ‘woke’ and feel that they can’t nominate Call the Midwife.”

Call the Midwife - S10:  Sister Monica Joan (JUDY PARFITT) (Nealstreet Productions/Sophie Mutevelian)
Call the Midwife - S10: Sister Monica Joan (JUDY PARFITT) (Nealstreet Productions/Sophie Mutevelian)

Parfitt herself was nominated for a film Bafta for her performance in Girl with a Pearl Earring in 2003. 

Commenting on why she thought the BBC show is yet to receive a nomination for best drama, she said: “The press like programmes where they can go on about a man taking his shirt off.”

“Or dramas with lots of breasts.”

Watch: Official Film Chart 14th April 2021

Read: Call The Midwife confirmed for screens until at least 2022

Actor Stephen McGann, 58 who plays Dr Patrick Turner in the show and is married Heidi Thomas the series' creator, also said the show deserves more recognition.

Stephen McGann (right) and Heidi Thomas attending the 1917 World Premiere at Leicester Square, London. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Stephen McGann and Heidi Thomas attending the 1917 World Premiere at Leicester Square, London. (Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

He told The Mirror: “Heidi has got grandma sitting down with grandchildren to watch a drama about abortion and the illegality of homosexuality.”

“And how? Because she doesn't bludgeon them over the head. It's a fist in a velvet glove.”

Despite its popularity on screen for nearly a decade, attracting more than 10 million viewers, the drama has only ever won one Bafta award, the Radio Times Audience Award in 2013, which was voted by members of the public. 

It has received no Bafta nominations since 2013, with Best Drama going to racier alternatives such as Netflix’s End Of The F****ing World, Killing Eve and Peaky Blinders.

Bafta winners are decided by juries and voters in the film and TV industry with at least five years experience in a senior role.

Judy Parfitt attends the premiere of
Judy Parfitt attends the premiere of "Dean Spanley" at the Times BFI London Film Festival at Odeon West End, Leicester Square. (Rune Hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images)

The BBC period drama revolves around a group of midwives and nuns working in East London during the fifties and sixties.

The tenth series starts this weekend on 18 April, and series 11 is set to begin filming soon. Series 12 and 13 have been commissioned by BBC Drama director Piers Wenger and Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore which means the show will run until 2024.

Parfitt admits she frequently worries that her character Sister Monica Joan, who is physically frail and suffering from dementia, doesn’t add much to the show, but fan letters say otherwise.

“I sometimes say to the producers, 'If you want to kill me off, I won't mind', but there's obviously something about the character that strikes a chord with people.”

Call The Midwife - Ep1 (No. 1):  Nurse Phyllis Crane (LINDA BASSETT), Nurse Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE), Sister Julienne (JENNY AGUTTER)  (Nealstreet Productions/Laura Radford)
Call The Midwife - Ep1 (No. 1): Nurse Phyllis Crane (LINDA BASSETT), Nurse Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE), Sister Julienne (JENNY AGUTTER) (Nealstreet Productions/Laura Radford)

Parfitt reveals that her character's battle with dementia is something that has hit very close to home for her as she lost her husband to the illness. 

This tenth series will feature the 1966 World Cup, financial problems at the convent, Nonnatus House and a confusing case with echoes of the thalidomide scandal.

Read more: Call The Midwife: The origins of the hit British drama

Reflecting on the show's tenth anniversary and recent 2024 commissioning announcement, creator Thomas said: “It's an incredible privilege to be able to look back on a decade of Call The Midwife, and yet know that our journey is still very far from over.”

“We are thrilled to be going on for a few more years! Like Nonnatus House itself, we have a proud past but an even more exciting future - full of old favourites, fresh faces, higher hemlines, new ideas.”

She likened the storylines to babies, in that they never stop coming and that they vow to do their best with every single one. 

Watch: BAFTA winner thanks 'snobbish' British people