‘Call the Midwife’ Returns March 29. What to Expect From Season 9

The nuns of Nonnatus House are back in the habit. PBS’s Call the Midwife returns for season 9 on March 29, and the nuns and midwives are facing new challenges with population shifts, new rules, and the return of old diseases. Meanwhile, they have to deal with their own experiences of love, loss, and doubt. Here’s what we can expect from the upcoming season. 

Big changes are on the horizon in ‘Call the Midwife’ 

Call the Midwife Season 9 cast
Nurse Lucille Anderson (Leonie Elliott), Nurse Trixie (Helen George), Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett), and Valerie Dyer (Jennifer Kirby) | Courtesy of BBC / Neal Street Productions

When Call the Midwife began, it was the mid-1950s, and the nuns and midwives were focused on serving the impoverished residents of London’s East End. Characters confronted tough issues like unwanted pregnancy and abortion and scary conditions like preeclampsia and post-partum psychosis. 

Now, it’s the mid-1960s, and while the Nonnatus House team is still hard at work providing crucial medical care to women, some of the issues they face have changed. Season 8 featured an intersex character and a Ghananian family affected by sickle cell disease, as well as the creation of a new cervical cancer screening clinic — then a new innovation in women’s healthcare. 

Season 9 (which takes place in 1965) will bring more changes in Poplar. Four young doctors arrive at Nonnatus House, which causes a stir among the midwives, while a slum clearance program and budget cuts put the nuns’ headquarters in jeopardy. Lucille (Leonie Elliott) faces racial prejudice in her work, while Phyllis (Linda Bassett) cares for recent immigrants from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). At the same time, the team must deal with old problems like Diptheria and tuberculosis among the people they serve. 

‘Call the Midwife’ draws from real life

Fans of Call the Midwife know the show is inspired by the memoirs of real-life midwife Jennifer Worth. But the series has eclipsed the events described in Worth’s books, which has left the show’s creators to chart a path forward. Writer Heidi Thomas has said that she looked to the history of London’s East End as she developed storylines for the upcoming season, especially when urban renewal threatens Nonnatus House. 

“[I]t reflects what was going on in the East End at that time, and indeed what happened to the original order of nuns who were based there and whose work inspired our series,” Thomas told RadioTimes.

“I think it would not feel very realistic if they weren’t under some sort of threat. Their premises are rented, we know they’ve already had to move once before because of an unexploded bomb that then exploded,” she added. “And now everything is being torn down around them. We see that on screen, and it would be very strange if it didn’t impact on them, physically and emotionally.”

So do the changes in Poplar mean that we’re nearing the end of Call the Midwife? Definitely not. The show, which airs on the BBC in the U.K, has been renewed for two more seasons. Each season will consist of eight episodes, and there will be an additional two Christmas specials. It seems the nuns of Nonnatus House aren’t going down without a fight. 

Call the Midwife Season 9 premieres Sunday, March 29 at 8/7c on PBS.