When is Call the Midwife set? All the time periods the BBC drama has covered so far

Call the Midwife is set set in a new year every season and you might be wondering how much time has passed between seasons 1 and 13

Shelagh Turner (LAURA MAIN) and Sister Julienne (JENNY AGUTTER) in Call the Midwife season 13
(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Andrea Southam)

“When is Call the Midwife set?” is a question that doesn’t have one specific answer as the show picks up each season in a different time period.

Whether you’ve only just discovered how to watch Call the Midwife and have been enjoying the show’s first series or are tuning in every week to Call the Midwife season 13, the show’s setting might have piqued your interest. Ever since the BBC drama first landed, the story has been moving across the years. Each season covers a set time period and focuses on the societal changes that took place during it, perhaps prompting many fans to wonder when Call the Midwife is set.

With poignant and heart-warming new storylines still to come in Call the Midwife season 13, we’ve got all the details on each season’s setting from the very beginning.

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Sister Veronica (REBECCA GETHINGS), Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE), Sister Monica Joan (JUDY PARFITT)

(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Andrea Southam)

When is Call the Midwife set? Seasons 1-13

When is Call the Midwife season 1 set?

Going right back to where it all started, in season 1 Call the Midwife is set in 1957 and focuses on everything from the post-war “Baby Boom” to immigration and poverty affecting so many. This time period might not come as a surprise to anyone who knows who the narrator in Call the Midwife is based on. The entire series is narrated by an adult version of Jennifer ‘Jenny’ Lee who appeared in Call the Midwife seasons 1-3. Jenny was a real nurse who worked in the East End of London during the 1950s and it’s her memoirs that inspired the BBC show. 

Call the Midwife season 2

The second season of Call the Midwife is set a year after the first - in 1958. It included plenty of medical and societal developments that happened at the time, including the introduction of gas and air as a form of pain relief during childbirth. This directly impacted the work of those at Nonnatus House, but the other themes like the issue of unexploded ordinances after the war which was a major plot in the Christmas special affected many more people too. The community was also shaken by an outbreak of tuberculosis during this season.

Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE), Nancy Corrigan (MEGAN CUSAK), Rosalind Clifford (NATALIE QUARRY) and Joyce Highland (RENEE BAILEY)

(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Andrea Southam)

When is Call the Midwife season 3 set?

Call the Midwife season 3 is set in 1959 and once again delved into very serious and poignant subject matters including people being diagnosed with polio and cystic fibrosis. After the usual team of nurses have influenza, Sister Julienne and Nurse Trixie end up visiting HMP Holloway to utilise their midwifery skills to help the inmates there. 

When is Call the Midwife season 4 set?

The fourth season of Call the Midwife jumps ahead another year to 1960 which proved to be a year of huge change. The threat of nuclear warfare loomed large in this season, as the storylines covered everything from the subject of syphilis affecting sex workers to the persecution of members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In episode 8 a woman’s morning sickness was later diagnosed as hyperemesis gravidarum and she was treated with thalidomide. This carefully introduced the subject of this drug, which was later withdrawn from use in 1961 after becoming the focus of a huge medical scandal and tragedy.

Nancy Corrigan (MEGAN CUSACK), Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE), Phyllis Crane (LINDA BASSETT)

(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Nicky Johnston)

When is Call the Midwife season 5 set?

The fifth series followed the pattern of the previous four and was set a year later in 1961. This season of Call the Midwife began to delve more into the discovery of the effects of thalidomide. Other subjects focused on in Call the Midwife season 5 included a patient with typhoid, another considering going through a termination after falling pregnant by a married man and the introduction of the contraceptive pill. In the final episode of the season, we see the withdrawal of thalidomide as a drug in the UK and Dr Turner trying to help and battling his guilt after he prescribed it to patients, not knowing the effects it would have on unborn babies.

When is Call the Midwife season 6 set?

Call the Midwife season 6 is set in 1962 and it focused on subjects including domestic violence, female genital mutilation, mental health and the Cuban Missile Crisis. This season also introduces the character Reggie, who has gone on to become a beloved series regular, and is Fred Buckle’s cousin who has Down’s Syndrome. After his mother Ivy died, Reggie came to live with Fred and Violet in Popular. 

Fred Buckle (CLIFF PARISI)

(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Olly Courtney)

When is Call the Midwife season 7 set?

The seventh series of Call the Midwife is set in 1963 and is the first season to feature Nurse Lucille Anderson (later Robinson) She arrives from Jamaica and begins working at Nonnatus House, facing racial abuse from some in the community. Dementia, meningitis and leprosy are also medical subject matters that are part of key season 7 storylines. The end of the series also touches on the assassination of US President John F Kennedy. 

When is Call the Midwife season 8 set?

Released in 2019, Call the Midwife season 8 is set in 1964 and, like all those that came before it and have followed in its wake, it sensitively handled some very topical subject matters. During this season the matter of terminations, which at the time were illegal in the UK, comes to the forefront, as does sickle cell disease and a child who is born in episode 3 with a cleft lip and cleft palate. Dr Turner and Nurse Trixie also launch a cervical screening clinic in this season. 

Sister Julienne (JENNY AGUTTER)

(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Andrea Southam)

When is Call the Midwife season 9 set?

Call the Midwife season 9 is set in 1965 and focuses on stories that explore subjects including ectopic pregnancies and diphtheria. Another major plot point in the ninth season is the very real possibility that Nonnatus House will be demolished and the matter of who knows and doesn’t know about the fate that could befall it. 

When is Call the Midwife season 10 set?

Set in 1966, Call the Midwife season 10 Nonnatus House is set to form a working partnership with the Lady Emily Clinic which is private. Views and discussions about private healthcare vs the NHS are prevalent and elsewhere in this season, the storylines delve into diabetes, the excitement surrounding the Football World Cup and Trixie writes a letter expressing her support for the legalisation of abortion. 

When is Call the Midwife season 11 set?

Season 11 of Call the Midwife is set in 1967 and storylines focus on subjects including alcoholism, scabies and cervical cancer. Alongside the medical storylines, this season also left lives hanging in the balance with a dramatic train crash in the penultimate episode.

Rosalind Clifford (NATALIE QUARRY) and Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE)

(Image credit: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Olly Courtney)

When is Call the Midwife season 12 set?

Season 12 of Call the Midwife is set in 1968 and the opening episode set out one of the most heart-wrenching and hard-to-watch themes of this season as it included the aftermath and responses of the local people to Enoch Powell’s speech. This speech criticising Commonwealth immigration is shown to have directly affected the lives of so many, including nurse Lucille who had arrived from Jamaica in season 7. She faced horrific abuse and ultimately, whilst there were many other factors why Lucille left Call the Midwife in this season, her mental health suffered. 

When is Call the Midwife season 13 set?

Currently airing on BBC One, Call the Midwife season 13 has kicked off in 1969. Episode one introduced Doreen in Call the Midwife and the show’s second episode focused on a heart-breaking storyline involving black mould. It’s also been reported that the new season will focus on poor housing in the community, tetanus and stories from within different communities. 

However, whilst Call the Midwife is set in the late 1960s at the moment, the show’s creator Heidi Thomas has previously explained to RadioTimes.com why they might not be able to move the show much beyond the mid 1970s.

"I do know that the original nuns on whom the original books were based left Poplar in 1976, because the social and the medical climate had changed," she said. "They relocated to Birmingham and focused more on spiritual work. So I don't know how far into the 1970s we could go."

At the moment there are still many more years to go before 1976 and there are two more seasons already confirmed.

Call the Midwife season 13 continues on Sundays at 8pm on BBC One and each episode is also available to stream after via BBC iPlayer.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!