Call the Midwife viewers left 'broken' after devastating storyline in first episode of new season

(Image credit: BBC/Neal Street Productions)

After months off of our screens, Call the Midwife finally returned last night, with an episode as emotional as ever.

Viewers rejoined the midwives of Nonnatus House in the mid-1960s - with a new royal baby for Queen Elizabeth II just on the horizon.

But, of course, it's Call the Midwifeand amidst all the joy and fun were some tougher storylines - including one that seriously left a mark with fans.

A new character, Cath, kicked off the episode celebrating her friend's new baby. But before long, she confesses that she has taken drastic measures, after finding that she too was "in the family way".

She confessed, tearfully, "I went to a woman, to get it out."

At the time,abortion was not legal. So Cath's admission that she went to have an illegal, back-street abortion - which were often very, very dangerous - was understandably difficult viewing.

Later on, Cath was forced to head to Nonnatus House after experiencing pain and bleeding. There, she was helped by Nurse Valerie, before passing the dead baby in the bathroom, over the toilet.

As the episode went on, Val was forced to justify the situation to her superiors, making clear the perspective on abortion at the time.

Viewers flooded social media with comments about the episode after it aired, with many admitting that it had broken their heart, seeing such a devastating topic addressed.

One fan wrote, '#CallTheMidwife is breaking my heart tonight. First Sister Monica Joan and now this horrible back street abortion story.'

While another said, '#CalltheMidwife never fails to hit hard. The 60s were a tough time for women with no birth control.'

A third fan also commented, 'Midwives are so important.. botched abortion story line has completely broken me. 😪 #CallTheMidwife'

While another said, 'Possibly the most emotional episode ever, and the writers never shy away from controversial story lines or highlighting social issues of the time. Such sensitivity and compassion shown. #CallTheMidwife remains my favourite BBC drama.'

Dr Turner actor Stephen McGann also shared his thoughts, writing, 'Still in tears when watching that episode of #CallTheMidwife. Tears of frustration for those times, and how they punished with shame on women.'

And many more viewers praised the drama for highlighting an issue that also pervades in society today, with many women around the world still unable to obtain a legal abortion.

One said, 'heartbreaking watching #CallTheMidwife to think that this is still the awful reality for northern irish women and girls in 2019 💔😢'.

While another commented on the episode, saying, 'Still one of the best on tv , quality is still strong even years in. Still covering very important issues, sad that some of them are still relevant 55 years on.'

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on