27 January 2012

Call the Midwife and We'll Take Manhattan: Drama, babies and lots of sunglasses

Now if you read my blog frequently, you know that I love TV programmes and books that are set in years gone by. By the way if you do read my blog frequently, then thank you and I am sending you a huge cuddle. So when I heard that the BBC were making not one, but two programmes set in the eras that I love, I screamed and I actually thought about sending the Head of the BBC a box of leftover Cadbury's biscuits from Christmas, said biscuits have now been eaten, sorry Mr BBC.

The first one is Call the Midwife which is on Sunday at 8pm on BBC1. Call the Midwife is an adaption from the book 'Call the Midwife', which is a memoir of the lovely Jennifer Worth's life as a midwife in the East End in the 1950's. The book was an amazing read, I know this due to hearing about it at least five times a day when Mummy Second Hand Rose was reading it.

It begins with a newly qualified midwife 'Jenny' played by the amazing and beautiful Jessica Raine, going to live in Nonnatus House, which is a house where some nuns live who are midwives. A Sister Act this is not, sadly Whoopi Goldberg doesn't appear in this singing. There have already been two episodes of it on, but you can catch up with it on BBC iplayer here. Jenny has a bit of a touchy start involving some delicious cake and a very moody Pam Ferris (Sister Evangelina), but she soon gets the hang of her life. A lot of the patients live in deprived areas, one of the mothers has twenty four children and counting! Just the thought of that makes me cross my legs and think of joining a nunnery, although I don't think all that black and the habit thing would suit me.

Apart from the nuns, there are two other midwives that become good friends with Jenny. In the second episode a new recently qualified midwife arrives. Her name is Chummy Brown, but she was born Camilla Fortescue-Cholmeley-Browne, blimey I bet she had a hard time writing that at primary school. Chummy is played by the fabulously funny Miranda Hart. Her role is a lot different to her usual funny falling over the place roles, but she plays the character so well, especially when Chummy has to learn how to ride a bike, Halfords she needs you.

The author Jennifer Worth sadly died on the 31st May 2011 from cancer of the oesophagus, so she never got to see her life and memoirs made into this amazing television series. If you would like to read the book you can purchase it here. The first episode was dedicated to her and after the watching the first two, I can see that this serious is going to do her memoir justice, well it better be because if it doesn't  the BBC will have Mummy Second Hand Rose on their hands, scary.

The next programme is called We'll Take Manhattan. It is a BBC Four drama all about the love affair between the amazing photographer  David Bailey and the model Jean Shrimpton played by the ginger beauty Karen Gillan, that makes you put down your Chocolate bar and get a gym membership. It was on Thursday at 9pm and you can catch up with it here. I decided to blog about it after watching it because a) I wanted to watch it before I gush to all of you about how yummy David Bailey looks and b) a bubble bath was calling.

The drama begins two years earlier where you see Bailey (as he calls himself) played by the great and may I say delicious Aneurin Barnard, working for a photographer  called Mr. French who wears a fabulous bow tie. Bailey decides to open his own studio which is the beginning for him. It then cuts to Jean Shrimpton's life, where her parents are enrolling her in some sort of finishing/modelling academy. The 'Lucie Clayton Charm Academy' was at first a finishing school but in the 1950's and 1960's, it turned into Britain's top modelling agency. The girls already enrolled are walking around flat footed with a book on their head. Believe me, if I was there they would give up. Whenever I've tried it I've either ended up with sore feet being whacked by a book and  I'd have a very very bent book that would take me at least 30 minutes to turn a page. Plus I'm not taking my heels off for anyone.
Jean joins the school and completes the course. Lucie tries to find her some jobs, but she is not right for the part. David meets her when she is trying to model for another photographer outside his studio. She automatically catches his eye with her extremely long legs and big gorgeous eyes, lucky old her.

The programme focuses around the winter of 1962, where Bailey and Jean get the chance to go to Manhattan to shoot some photos for a 'Young Idea Goes West Photoshoot' for Vogue. They were accompanied by Lady Clare Rendlesham, played by the elegant Helen McCrory who fights and resists Bailey's ambition to change British Fashion photography. At the time the only people that were models were society ladies with titles, that posed in awkward positions with dresses on that went down to their ankles, Mary Quant where were you?
Bailey wanted to change all the boring stuffiness of magazines and on this assignment for Vogue he took some amazing photos, but they were not liked by Lady Clare. There wasn't a frumpy gown in. A lot of them were done behind gritty streetscapes along with a battered old teddy bear that featured in all the photos, now that teddy bear is going places.

Famous photos: Jean, left, in the 1962 Vogue shoot... and Karen recreating itFamous photos: Jean, left, in the 1962 Vogue shoot... and Karen recreating itThe main two things that the drama portrays are the young couple falling in love and Bailey's passion to change photography into a less stick up your bum thing and more of relaxed, youthful but happy and that is exactly what he did. Bailey went on to become the photographer of his generation and Jean became what is known as the first supermodel.
This drama is great in portraying the relationship between these two young icons and how they together made fashion and photography history. The pictures are still loved by many today. You can buy one of David Bailey's books here, he still continues to produce some great photos. Jean now lives in Cornwall with her family and runs a hotel, no its not like Fawlty Towers sadly.

Sorry Jean you maybe stalked down by me, I'm already trying to convince my parents to go there for our next holiday. If not then Mr. Boyfriend you are officially coming to Cornwall with me. I'd pick meeting Jean Shrimpton over going to the sun any day.

So there are my two reviews on two great programmes that you should all check out, the Telegraph TV reviewer, watch out. What's better then winding back the past with a box of Custard Creams and a hot chocolate?

Second Hand Rose


  1. Hi :) Thank you so much for your lovely comments.
    Very interesting blog you have xo

  2. I haven't actually watched any of these programmes, but I think I will have to now!! xXx

  3. I love Call the Midwife! It's absolutely hilarious, but is such an eyeopener of how things used to be then. My mum was born in the year it was set, 1957, and it's quite shocking to see how her pregnancy would have been handled as it was my nan's 9th pregnancy! I do enjoy a good drama. I'm going to have to watch the other programme too!

    Thank you so much for your really lovely comments on my blog! They've really made my day :) Your blog is so interesting too, a definitely follower here :) xxx

  4. Might have to check out these programmes! Thank you so much for your comments, my lovely! They were so sweet and considerate. I love your blog, too. Keep up the good work!

    Lots of love xxx


  5. thanks for the reviews! i'm gonna try and check these out. i hope i can find them online. ;)

    <3, Mimi
    Udderly Smooth Giveaway

  6. we'll take Manhattan was brilliant I thought the actor that played David Bailey really looked the part, Karen Gillan was great too.
    All the acting in fact was superb, all in all a very watchable drama.

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