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Miranda Hart of 'Call the Midwife' is Still Standing Out, Still Outstanding
December 15, 2013  | By Donna J. Plesh  | 3 comments
 

[Editor's Note: TVWW contributor Donna J. Plesh died April 2, 2015, from ovarian cancer. She was 71. Donna covered television since the early 1980s, initially for the Orange County Register and its TV magazine. She also was a member of the Television Critics Association. Donna was always a cheerful spirit within the TVWW network and often gave readers a kind, up-close viewpoint in her interviews with a wide variety of television stars. She will be missed.]

Growing up is not easy for many children. Especially if you are a tall girl compared to your much shorter, girly-girl classmates. Just ask Miranda Hart of PBS’ Call The Midwife, a tall one who feels things just came easier to her shorter, prettier schoolmates.

But that was then and now Hart, 41, who stands 6’1,” stars in Midwife along with Jessica Raine, Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Judy Parfitt , Helen George, Bryony Hannah, Laura Main and Cliff Parisi, and she is taller than all of them! In her native England Hart is also a well-known comedienne with her own comedy series, Miranda, and is the author of a best-selling book, Is It Just Me?, in which she humorously relates to her younger self about some of the pitfalls of adulthood.

Today she looks back on her school days and is happy with how her life has turned out. “There’s a chapter [in her book] that I write about beauty. And there’s a section which says that at one point you wish you were the beautiful one at school, you know, because things seem to come easy to those girls. And now I look back and I think Thank you God I never was [like] that, because I think I had to rely on wit. All my girlfriends seemed to be 5’1” for some reason. So you just felt odd. You didn’t feel like normal, but I now love that and embrace that,” she said in an interview.

On Midwife, which begins its third season on PBS in the spring, Hart plays nurse "Chummy" Browne (Camilla Fortescue-Cholmondeley-Browne), later "Chummy" Noakes (after her marriage), a midwife who is kind, shy, has a sweet disposition and is rather clumsy (as she learns to ride a bicycle, the mode of transit for midwives to get to their patients). Midwife is set in the late 1950s in the gritty, rundown East End area of London where secular midwives live and work alongside a group of nuns in Nonnatus House, a nursing convent. (A Call The Midwife Holiday Special airs on PBS at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 29 and it is set four months after the end of Season 2 of the series.)

From a background as a standup comedienne (she still performs and has a comedy tour in England starting in February 2014) and star of her own comedy series, Hart said she is pleased to have a chance to do drama after comedy. “There’s so much pressure in comedy, particularly because I was running my own show. And setting yourself up for a laugh is a particular stress. So I was really looking forward to not writing a show, and to not being the lead and to being part of an ensemble. It was difficult for me to do a non-clowny, heightened performance and [I had] to really tone it down. But I loved being more real and more vulnerable and doing something smaller in a way.”

However, Hart said balancing working on Midwife and Miranda, can be tricky. “I’m good at multi-tasking at most things like all good women, but not great creatively. So I have to make sure I do one thing at a time. I couldn’t write my sitcom and do Midwife. In Season 2 of Call The Midwife Chummy left for Africa [for missionary work but returns near the end of season two], which was perfect for Chummy and for me as the actor because then I went away and wrote my sitcom. So it worked out well,” she said.

Comedy was always Hart’s dream. “I'd always wanted to get into comedies since I can remember. I saw a comedian called Eric Morecambe who was huge [in England] in the 1970s and I thought I just want to do that. I remember making my mum laugh when I did an impression of my headmaster (at her school). And I remember that connection and thinking, Wow, laughter is fantastic. I’ve made my mom laugh. That’s an amazing feeling. And then at school, yeah, I think I certainly tried to be the class clown. I don’t know if I was. I was very silly.”

Hart’s road to comedy did not come overnight. “It took me a long time to get in the business. I worked in the charity sector as a secretary for seven years while going to the Edinburgh Festival (a showcase for artists) every year trying out my material. So it was not an easy journey and I just never thought it would happen.” Edinburgh was the turning point in her career, leading to her slowly getting small roles on TV shows and standup and eventually the drama Midwife and her own series.

 
 
 
 
 
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3 Comments
 
 
Pamela Brown
I love Chummy and think she is one of the very best female characters in any television program. I fell in love with Call the Midwife because of Chummy. So glad it and she is coming back!
Dec 17, 2013   |  Reply
 
 
Hal H
Hear, hear! We immediately fell in love with her on CTM--she hits all the comedic notes just perfectly, while bringing the emotional depth to Chummy that makes her a real person. Wish we could get "Miranda" on Netflix!
Dec 14, 2013   |  Reply
 
 
jan
Thanks for the article on Miranda Hart. I realized after I had seen her in "Call the Midwife" that I had also seen her on "The Graham Norton Show" and had no idea who she was at the time. I would love to see some of her comedy work. Love "Call the Midwife," and I'm looking forward to the holiday special and the new season.
Dec 14, 2013   |  Reply
 
 
 
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