London 19 May 2014: Made by Neal Street Productions for BBC One, the award-winning drama series, Call the Midwife, has begun filming for a Christmas special in 2014 and new series of 8 episodes in 2015. Joining the regular cast are Linda Bassett (East is East, Lark Rise to Candleford) as Nurse Phyllis Crane and Charlotte Ritchie (Life of Riley, Fresh Meat) as Nurse Barbara Gilbert. Vanessa Redgrave will appear on screen for the first time, as the mature Jennifer Worth, during the Christmas special episode.

Created and written by Heidi Thomas, the fourth series continues filming on location at the historic Chatham dockyard and at its studio base in Chertsey, Surrey. Audiences can expect to see a similar mixture of laughter and tears this time around, with fascinating and emotional stories celebrating the people of Poplar, and the much-loved residents of Nonnatus House. Series 4 sees the community of nuns and nurses in 1960, on the cusp of much change in London’s East End. A new decade dawns, and with it come different and exciting challenges for the team at Nonnatus House. Can the nuns and midwives hold onto their traditional values in a rapidly changing world?

Pippa Harris, Executive Producer for Neal Street Productions said; “We’re all delighted to be welcoming Vanessa Redgrave on screen, having hugely enjoyed her narration of the series to date. It’s also terrific that Heidi Thomas has created two wonderful new characters for the series, and that we’re fortunate enough to have Linda Bassett and Charlotte Ritchie joining our regular and much loved team at Nonnatus House“.

Heidi Thomas, Creator, Writer and Executive Producer said; “The medical, social, and emotional stories at the heart of Call the Midwife continue to inspire and compel me. The Nonnatus House nurses and midwives feel like my best loved friends.”

Christopher Aird, BBC Head of Drama, Scotland, said; “We look forward to welcoming Call the Midwife back to BBC One this Christmas and in 2015. Heidi and the talented team will bring some truly wonderful stories to life with our new cast members and a special Christmas treat with Vanessa appearing on our screens”.

Jennifer Worth’s original books still play a crucial role in inspiring the series, supplemented by the testimony of other midwives from the era and new historical research. Vanessa Redgrave will return as series narrator mirroring the actual, life-long friendship which continued between Jennifer Worth and the residents of Nonnatus House. The rest of Nonnatus House’s well-loved regular characters also return for series 4 as do the recently introduced, Patsy and Sister Winifred. Stories of childbirth will always lie at the heart of Call the Midwife, but the show also tells district nursing tales and depicts the grittiness of the world surrounding the characters at that time.

Inspired by the memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife is created and written by Heidi Thomas; Executive Producers are Pippa Harris and Heidi Thomas. Executive Producer for the BBC is Christopher Aird with Annie Tricklebank (Crimson Field, Lark Rise to Candleford) joining as Producer for series 4. Call the Midwife is a Neal Street Production for BBC/PBS.

Series 4 stars Jenny Agutter, Linda Bassett, Pam Ferris, Miranda Hart, Judy Parfitt, Helen George, Bryony Hannah, Laura Main, Emerald Fennell, Charlotte Ritchie, Victoria Yeates, Ben Caplan, Stephen McGann and Cliff Parisi.