As Dr Turner in Call The Midwife, Stephen McGann, 54, is a fan favourite – but did you know that he’s married to writer and executive producer of the hit TV series, Heidi Thomas? The couple lives in Hertfordshire and have one son, Dominic, 20.
Now, with Call The Midwife season seven about to hit our screens and Stephen releasing his latest book, the star lets us in on a few secrets about his marriage to Heidi…
“I was 23, a young actor living in London when I went to an audition for Heidi’s play. I read the script on the train to Liverpool, the story of a family going through crisis. It was amazing, searing and beautiful. I tried to imagine the woman who wrote it and though it was obviously someone quite mature, maybe a wizened academic. When I saw Heidi, this tiny little girl – the same age as me – I fell madly in love.
“I used to say that marrying Heidi had killed my chances of working with one of the country’s leading writers. No one would cast me in her work, as people would say, “Oh you’re Heidi’s husband!”
“When she rang me to ask if I’d play Dr Turner in Call the Midwife, I was studying at Imperial, having a great old time. I said, ‘Heidi! I’m at University preparing my dissertation!’ She said, ‘No, it’s perfect. It’s only a few days here and there.’ Then she said the immortal line, ‘It probably won’t run longer than six episodes!’
“Call the Midwife has been a wonderful shared adventure, but our roles are very separate. Heidi is principally pre- and post-production. She generally writes at home but also has a lot of meetings. She hardly ever comes on set, which is the place I live. We’re not bumping into each other, but we’ve shared the ups and downs, the details… and the gossip.
“We always watch the show together. What’s sweet is that out son will watch it with us when he’s home. We tell him he doesn’t have to, but he says, ‘No, this is what you folks have been doing all year.’ He tells us not to give him any spoilers.
“We live in a beautiful but ordinary world. When we married we moved to rural Essex and we brought our son up there, and now we’ve nipped over the border and bought an old chapel in the countryside. Showbusiness and London is something we go into – and then come home again.
“I put the success of Call the Midwife down to the genius that is my wife. She’s funny and intelligent, with this deep well of sincere feeling that she knows how to bring out. She speaks to people’s hearts. And she spoke to mine.”
Call the Midwife returns to BBC One this January; Flesh and Blood by Stephen McGann is out now (Simon & Schuster).