Website changes & life updates

Due to changes with my previous web-hosting company (switching to commercial only accounts), I decided to transfer things over to WP, including the Otalia Virtual Seasons as a separate page from the blog. All of the mini-sodes that were written are compiled into seasons and are available in ePUB and PDF formats. In addition, all of the episodes are also available as single episodes and as complete seasons in ePUB and PDF formats.

Majority of the fan fiction I’ve written has now been transferred over to my account over at Archive Of Our Own (AO3). Still adding some fic from old site to AO3 – have the stories on my computer, just need to upload them to AO3 as time permits.

On a personal note, I’m still working through the Coronavirus pandemic as I’m a nurse in a geriatric nursing home – fortunately still with no cases of the virus, and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way. In my non-work time, I get creative with painting – flow acrylics for the most part. I started doing that early last November as a creative endeavour to help with my mental health after the death of my younger brother (from a Glioblastoma Multii-forme brain tumour). And now with the self-isolation / social distancing measures with the Coronavirus, the painting continues to be an outlet to create something artistic.

I’ve got quite a number of paintings done – enough that there’s not enough wall space to put them all. I’m hoping to be able to get some photos of the paintings done so that I can start selling some of them. The paintings below are just some rough captures of some of  the paintings after they’ve been done but before they’ve been varnished. I’m also still crocheting – which is infinitely more portable than my painting supplies. 🙂 Less messy for one thing. While most of my paintings are on various sizes of canvases, I’ve also done several on ceramic tiles (4″x4″ and 8″x8″) and MDF board (12″ x 24″ and 16″x20″). I have some more ideas for multi-canvas pieces but it may take some time…and practice.





Posted in Commentary, Entertainment, Fan-fiction, Painting, Personal, Television | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Crime drama worth listening to

J. Lynn Stapleton

A couple of years ago I was listening to an audio series on BBC Radio4 called “Stone” as part of their Afternoon Drama segments. Late to the series as I was, I found it via Audible; the series was released in shorter segments by series, a series at a time. Then later it’s been released in two larger sections, Series 1-4 and Series 5-7. Series 8 ran earlier this year on BBC Radio4 Afternoon Drama. The detective series, is a full-cast audio drama created by Danny Brocklehurst (writer of Safe, Coming Home, Ordinary Lies, The Five, Shameless, Clocking Off) and is about a Major Incident Team in Manchester, led by Detective Chief Inspector John Stone (played by Hugo Speer). His team includes DS Sue Kelly (Deborah McAndrew) and DI Mike Tanner (Craig Cheetham). It is directed by Nadia Molinari, Stefan Escreet, Charlotte Riches and Pauline Harris.

Screen Shot 2019-07-05 at 6.24.16 AMAlong with Danny Brocklehurst, the detective radio drama features the writing talents of Chloe Moss, Damian Wayling, Cath Staincliffe, Gurpreet Bhatti, Martin Jameson, James Rye, Richard Monks, and Vivienne Harvey. The stories grasp you and bring you into the various episodes where you can visualise the stories as clear as watching would. They focus on scenarios that can and do occur in many a crime drama: dealing with historic crime, vulnerable adults,  domestic violence, dishonour amongst families, honour killings, gang violence, corruption, ineptitude, witnessing a crime and being intimidated from coming forward (or testifying), racial discrimination, murder of a sexual predator, etc.. 

The first episode, Mary Shane, opens up with a case of a missing girl which triggers the memory of an older woman played by Anne Reid, who comes into the police station and confesses to a WWII era cold case triple murder. But memories being what they are, Stone and his colleagues are unsure at first whether to believe her. Suranne Jones also guest stars in this episode as the woman’s friend who also struggles to believe that this woman she’s been friends with for decades could be guilty of such a crime.

Screen Shot 2019-07-05 at 6.27.59 AM

For the first few series, the stories are episodic for the most part – each story being contained within. In series seven and eight, the stories run through the length of the series (and have more episodes per series). Series seven consists of ten episodes and guest stars Jill Halfpenny across the series as the detectives try to work out the arson of a social housing development when a man’s remains are found in the aftermath and it links back to a former case of Stone’s. The eighth series (also running ten episodes) Retribution – The Unravelling of a Murder, Stone and his team are up against witness protection in their attempt to solve a murder and keep running against obstacles.

At times through the series, you have glimpses at the main characters’ personal lives, and the impact upon which the cases affect the lives of the detectives and their families, but on the whole, the stories focus on the cases before them and how they deal with solving the cases. The team of three – John Stone, Sue Kelly, and Mike Tanner work well together, playing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses, both professional and personal. There’s a camaraderie that blends nicely even when they do annoy the shit out of each other. Screen Shot 2019-07-05 at 6.29.16 AM

The ninth and final series of Stone, will air likely early in the new year on BBC Radio4.

There are times when I’ve binge-watched a television series for hours. In the case of DCI Stone, I’ve binge-listened to multiple episodes as I’ve worked on other things that don’t require my full attention, as I’ve gotten roped into the stories that I just want to hear what happens in the next story. The stories runtime in S1 is about 56 minutes each, and running about 43 minutes each in S2-7. They also stand up on re-listening. So, if you’ve got some time on your hands and enjoy crime audio dramas, check it out.

As mentioned above, Series 1-4, and 5-7 are currently available on Audible. Series 8 is currently not available online (at least as far as I’ve checked – hoping it will be compiled with series 9 next year).

Screen Shot 2019-07-05 at 6.16.37 AM

Image © BBC Productions.


Posted in Audio Drama, Audio Drama, Commentary, Entertainment, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My overall impression of the first series of “Gentleman Jack”

So many things to say…
J. Lynn Stapleton

Screen Shot 2019-06-13 at 3.44.45 AM

There are so many things to appreciate about the entirety of Gentleman Jack that I scarcely know where to begin. I’d been massively looking forward to this series since I heard of its conception sometime last year. Though I hadn’t known much about Anne Lister or her diaries until a couple of years ago, when I found out about the 2010 telefilm, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister starring Maxine Peake, this new series project looked amazing.

To wit, I have long been a fan of Sally Wainwright’s writing, since the beginning days of Scott & Bailey, following through with the likes of Unforgiven, Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley, and more recently, To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters. For those who might not have known, Scott & Bailey was the brain-child of Suranne Jones & Sally Lindsay (Coronation Street co-stars; Lindsay played Rachel’s sister, Allison Bailey, in Scott & Bailey); Suranne brought the treatment to Sally Wainwright to develop into a series. Suranne was also the lead in Wainwright’s three-part drama, “Unforgiven”. I love Sally Wainwright’s attention to detail, and her wonderful knack of writing women, bringing an authenticity to their interactions. So much of her writing is focused on women because she has said many times over that that is the kind of television that she likes to watch herself, so she writes it.

The pairing of Wainwright’s writing and directing this series – one that’s she’s worked on for 20 years before it finally was green-lit for production – and of Suranne as Anne Lister were the first draws to the series. Add in the pairing of Sophie Rundle (of Happy Valley, The Bletchley Circle, and Peaky Blinders) as Ann Walker, and you’ve got a wonderful start. Then you add into the mix, Scott & Bailey alum, Amelia Bullmore as Mrs Eliza Priestly, Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), Gemma Jones (Spooks, Rocketman, Last Tango in Halifax, Unforgotten), George Costigan (Scott & Bailey [S3], Happy Valley [S1]), Joe Armstrong (Happy Valley), Peter Davison (Doctor Who, Law & Order UK), Rosie Cavaliero (Cleaning Up, Unforgotten, Prey), and a slew of other notable Northern actors.

Anne Choma’s 30 year history of working on transcribing Anne Lister’s diaries. upon which she wrote her Masters Thesis – “Anne Lister and the Split Self (1791-1840): A Critical Study of Her Diaries”, University of Leeds, (1994), hugely helped form the basis upon which Wainwright’s series was written. Utilising roughly 300,000 words from Lister’s diaries, the series focused on the period of 1832-1834 for the first series. Her companion book to the series, “Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister” has currently reached Amazon’s Best Seller lists in multiple countries.

Jill Liddington (Female Fortune: The Anne Lister Diaries and Other Writings 1833-36: Land, Gender and Authority”, [1997]) and Helena Whitbread (The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister: The Inspiration for Gentleman Jack, [2010] and No Priest but Love: No Priest But Love: A. Lister – Cutting Edge: Lesbian Life & Literature [1993]) are also notable historians focusing on the life and diaries of Anne Lister, and upon whose works were drawn for the series.

Screen Shot 2019-06-13 at 9.00.20 PM

Huddersfield, Yorkshire folk wife duo, Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow wrote and performed the show’s closing title track, “Gentleman Jack” (O’Hooley & Tidow – “The Fragile” [2011]). The two have been touring and selling out venues around the UK. The catchy title tune is a wonderful ear worm to be caught singing (internally or aloud). Their album, “The Fragile” has also been soaring to the top of folk charts, as well, the other songs on the album are lovely, and get frequent playing on my mobile. They currently have six albums: The Fragile (2011), Silent June (2010), The Hum (2014), Summat’s Brewin’ (2015 – a limited edition release of 1000 copies), Shadows (2016), Winterfolk, Vol I (2017)

Now, onto the series. I do apologise in advance if this seems somewhat incoherent, because trust me, this show exceeds any expectation I might have ever had. Suranne’s specific nuances as Anne Lister, whether they be utterly formidable and at times ruthless as landowner and business woman, to deeply vulnerable, and protective in her personal life, are enthralling to watch. Anne was remarkably well fit, oft times walking more than ten miles a day (about 4 miles each way to Lightcliffe [Ann Walker’s residence]), and working the grounds with her tenants, and she was a polymath.


When Anne Lister returns to her home at Shibden Hall, Halifax, Yorkshire, it’s following the utter rejection of Vere Hobart’s affections when the latter chose to marry a man, especially as it was not the first time that Anne’s faced that kind of rejection. Past loves such as Mariana Lawton (neé Belcombe) and Isabella Norcliffe both married for status. She also had suffered the humiliation of returning to Halifax instead of further travel to the continent, due to financial constraints – while she was vastly intelligent and moved in higher social circles, Anne Lister was not a wealthy woman. Though Anne is very charismatic, her social foibles sometimes get the best of her in upper class social circles, leaving an impression that is not always positive. Her gender non-conformity to certain tasks, such as collecting the rents, owning land, opening coal pits as well as her other business ventures makes her an oddity to the folk of Halifax and surrounding areas. As her sister Marian points out, Anne’s behaviour may be “all well and good being different in York or Paris, but this is Halifax; people talk, and it isn’t always very nice.”

Anne had inherited a moderate agricultural estate, along with property in Halifax and shares in various industries from her uncle, James Lister upon his death. Although she drew a modest income from the estate and managed it until her aunt Anne’s death in 1836, her finances were somewhat limited. So, she returns to Halifax to set her goals of finding a local wealthy woman to love, marry, and settle down with.

Though Anne was hesitant about meeting Ann Walker (recalling her previous meeting with Ann and her sister Elizabeth following the death of their parents), Anne appeared rather smitten with Ms. Walker, and although she set out to romance Ann and convince her that they should settle down together, Miss Walker, despite her mental fragility at times, was more than able to temper Anne’s impulsiveness. They balanced each other quite well.


Wainwright’s dramatising of Anne Lister’s diaries, picks up the nuances of Anne’s habits, such as writing down the timing and frequency of her sexual encounters in her diaries, her business practices, the weather, her family life, and what was happening socially and politically of where she was. Anne was an utter force of nature, and her strength of character and her overall positive mental health outlook shone through in every aspect of her character. She knows who she is and with whom she loves. Who she loves, she has known from a young age, are women – that is how God made her, and she is utterly unashamed of that, though she does note to her aunt that she was dealt a cruel trick to be this courageous and strong into a woman’s body, especially in a time where women in society were limited, socially, politically. Suranne Jones emanates these qualities in abundance in her portrayal of Anne Lister.


Many times the dialogue spoke to Lister’s confidence of who she was; she was very much aware of her ‘oddity’ status, but she owned that about herself. Though the social nature of today versus the Georgian period in which Anne Lister lived is quite different, the dialogue is as much relevant now as it was then. The inequality and egalitarianism on different scales is relatable. I also loved that she was very determined that she was never compelled to become a mother, yet another thing that separated her from most of society at that time – even now, women still get shamed for not wanting to have children.


Ann Walker was coming into her own, despite her mental health challenges through her life. She’d had a tragic life with her parents and some friends dying, her religious persecution fears, and the overbearing nature of some of her relatives to leach money from her estate. She grew more confident of herself when she was with Anne, drawing strength from her love. Anne’s interactions with her varying family members – her sister, Elizabeth, who became rather supportive of her younger sister’s relationship with Ms. Lister (how aware Elizabeth was about the sexual intimacy aspect of that relationship was I don’t know, but she certainly was aware that Ann loved Anne). The Priestley’s became quite aware of Ann and Anne’s relationship after Mrs. Priestly all but walked in on them in the sitting room kissing each other. At first, Eliza Priestly was all for the friendship until she realised the nature of it. Though I think Mr. Priestley was more ‘live and let live’ aspect of his cousin Ann’s relationship with Ms. Lister, a bit less concerned with the social mores than his wife. Ann’s cousin, Catherine Rawson, I believe it was, came to realize how much Anne cared for her cousin, taking care of Ann’s mental health needs. And she was forthcoming to Anne, apologising for thinking the worst of Anne (in possibly taking advantage of Ann’s wealth).

Screen Shot 2019-06-13 at 11.05.39 PM

A major thing I love about the approach to the love story in Gentleman Jack is that unlike so many preceding stories featuring lesbians (or other WLW love stories), is that this is very obviously told without the ‘male gaze’ in mind. There is a beautiful intimacy that is soft and gentle, without the explicitness or gratuity that is often typical in some lesbian and bisexual female relationships in many shows or films. There’s an utter joy and respect shown to the characters and actors, in the writing and directing of the intimacy between Anne and her lovers, past and present. Touch is a wonderful act of intimacy, without it always being Anne&AneBedsexual or perceived as such. Vulnerability as well speaks volumes in intimacy between partners, allowing ones self to feel the emotion is so strong. That is shown very specifically in a number of occasions, specifically when Anne realises that she’s aware that Ann cannot commit to her then, that of the partners that Anne has had, Ann Walker came the closest to understanding Anne’s nature. Her breaking down at that point was heartbreaking. In addition, in the finale, after Ann tells her that she’d agree to marry Anne and mean it, Anne pleads for her love not to hurt her, because sometimes she’s not as strong as she seems.

Anne&AnnWeddingTheir marriage, in contrast to her tenant, John Sowden, is a much quieter affair, the two women privately exchanging rings then taking the sacrament together in church was beautiful and meaningful, highlighting the joy at their union. Their amusing bickering after leaving the church was just perfect and on point.

Anne’s family life is very rich. Although Wainwright took slight narrative liberties of having Anne’s father Jeremy present rather than her Uncle James, I think it worked well in this case. I adored Aunt Anne’s wonderful relationship with Anne. She had a wonderful acceptance of her niece’s differences and just wanted Anne to be happy with whomever she loved and settled down. Aunt Anne adored Anne’s eccentricities and zest for life, her ability to take on life and explore. And she had the ability to reassure and support Anne when she was hurting. Anne’s care of her aunt’s Ann&AuntAnnehealth was just as wonderful; there was such a strong bond between them. I also loved the relationship between Anne and her sister Marian. The dynamic was just perfect. Marian had such wonderful long-suffering reactions to her sister: “It’s uncanny. However far away my sister goes, however long she’s gone for, whatever crisis is happening here, she always, within minutes, manages to inveigle herself into becoming the main topic of any given conversation. (*sigh*).” The meal-time conversations are hilariously done, with both Anne and Marian at times breaking the fourth wall with a look, a sigh, a smile or a roll of the eyes.


Onto other matters. Her servants and tenants. Anne was oft times ruthless when it came to her tenants in getting them to vote how she wished, as she could not vote as a woman (a specific gripe of hers as is revealed in the opening episode in a discussion between herself, her sister Marian, Aunt Anne, Ann Walker, and the Priestley’s about the upcoming Reformation Act.) She would also evict tenants who could no longer be useful on her land. She made it her business to be aware of things going on, such as the young boy who’s leg was amputated in an accident caused by Christopher Rawson – Anne made it a mission of hers throughout the series to try and find a way to make Rawson pay for injuring the child. She was also aware (to varying degrees) about Thomas Sowden and his uneasy relationship with his abusive father. Despite the circumstances of his father’s disappearance, which I’m sure Anne probably saw as suspicious, (especially as his and his mother’s stories told to Mr. Washington about the disappearance did not always match) but she agreed to let Thomas and his family to stay and work the land. Eugenie, the unfortunate young woman whom Anne chose as a lady’s maid, who barely MrsCordinglyspoke/understood English, and was pregnant by her now-deceased lover (also a servant of Anne’s), and became engaged to another servant, the affable Joseph Booth, under the guise of necessity – despite the two of them not speaking the same language (on more than one level). Rosie Cavaliero as Elisabeth Cordingly was brilliant both in her interactions with her fellow servants (acting as mediary between Joseph and Eugenie), and in interactions with Anne. Her exasperation at times was just priceless to watch.

Both Anne and Marian frequently broke the fourth wall, looking or speaking to the audience, and it worked quite effectively. Anne’s diaries were a reflection of her thoughts and feelings about life and the world around her, and in these instances those thoughts directed towards the audience gave us insight into that.

Screen Shot 2019-06-13 at 5.36.55 AM


Anne’s business acumen and her knowledge is extensive in many areas; she was a well studied woman in matters of business, politics, social science, nature, anatomy. And what she didn’t know at the time, she sought to educate herself further, and seek guidance from other trusted sources as to things like sinking coal pits. She learned agricultural techniques and equipment so that she knew how her land was farmed, and she often would go work on the land with her tenants, mucking in to even the arduous work of pulling up trees, working on the stone walls.

Screen Shot 2019-06-14 at 12.38.50 AM

Speaking of trees, stone walls and the like, the West Yorkshire landscape and Shibden Hall grounds (upon which quite a bit of the series is filmed) is a character unto itself. The rolling valleys, mixed with the early 1800s appearance of town give the series a brilliant backdrop to the drama going on around it.


The show has been well received on both sides of the Atlantic given the airing on HBO in the United States and BBC One in the United Kingdom, so much in fact that after the first airing in the UK, the show had been green-lit for a second series. Given that there is well over four million words written over her lifetime (starting at the age of 15 until a month before her death at the age of 49 in 1840), there is a lot of material to cover from 1834-1840. Anne took over full ownership of Shibden Hall in 1836 after the death of her Aunt Anne, and both Anne and Ann did a lot of travelling in their married life. I don’t know what period of time the second series will cover, but I suspect we can look forward to a lot more wonderful drama that we were treated to in the first series.


All images Copyright © 2019 Lookout Point Limited.
Music score for Gentleman Jack: Murray Gold.

Posted in Entertainment, Introspection, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking a tour of Emmerdale Village

This past summer I had the good fortune to be able to visit the Emmerdale Village and Studio Experience tours.


To back up just a bit, I’ve been a fan of the nearly 46 year old UK soap for six years. I started episodes in 2012 – leading up to the 40th Anniversary Week of episodes in October (16th October 1972 the show started, then called “Emmerdale Farm”). That year, Emmerdale did their first (and only so far) broadcast live 47+ min episode – an episode which contained 2 births, 2 weddings and a death. For those not familiar with the soap, there are, in general, six half-hour episodes per week – Monday to Friday with a second episode on Thursdays.

2012 October Anniversary Live episode

You’ve got your usual soap tropes going on, wheelings, dealings, and all sorts. The Woolpack pub is the hub of village life – folks coming in for a pint and a natter. Other gathering spots are David’s Shop (a little convenience store/olive bar), the Cafe, and The Grange B&B.

As with many small villages, it’s a close knit community – with all the good and bad trappings that comes with it; everyone seems to know everyone else’s business and keeping shtump about secrets never really works out well, for anyone. Families grow up, move away, some come back, for generations onwards.

The largest family – multi-generaltional – within the dales at present are the Dingles, going from Faith Dingle, Lisa Dingle & Zak Dingle being at the upper level, then Chas, Cain, Charity, Marlon, Sam and Belle being of the next generation (cousins, second cousins, and siblings), Aaron, Debbie, Ryan, Noah, Moses, April, Leo, Kyle, Isaac and Samson in the next, and the great grandchildren of Zak Dingle are Sarah and Jack Sugden (Debbie’s kids). And that’s not including the step-children and the in-laws. 🙂 Really, you need a complex diagram to keep track of everyone.

Other main families in recent years have been the Sugdens, Bartons, Thomas’s, Kings, and until recently Whites, and various other smaller family groups. My personal favourites are the Dingles (well, some of them much more than others), Vanessa Woodfield, Tracy Shankley, Moira Dingle, Rhona Goskirk, Megan Macey, and Harriett Finch. To find out more about the show’s characters check out the Fan Wiki.

I’ve seen a lot over the past six years with many more to come! Knowing that there were tours of both the Emmerdale Village and the Emmerdale Studio Experience, I kept watch of when they were going to be running for when I had my summer vacation. The Village tours are only done on weekends, due to it being an active filming area during the week. Occasionally on there are some weekends when they’re shooting something big, they will take extra time, and so tours don’t happen then. As they generally shoot six to eight weeks ahead of the shows airing, the tour company has to wait for the schedules from ITV before they can book the tours. To avoid the post being too long, I’m going to split the Village tour and the Studio Experience tour into two posts.


Road to Emmerdale Village

I kept checking the website for availability, and fortunately (for me), the Village tour was available to do on my birthday (it being on a weekend). The Studio Experience tour I could do on a weekday, so I booked that one for the next day. While the Studio Experience tour is done in Leeds, the Emmerdale Village is on the Harewood estate (a bit over 8 miles north of Leeds), since 1996 (previously Esholt), on 300 acres of land purchased for building the village and the buildings were constructed (mostly of timber frame & stone covering) in 18 weeks.

While it rained heavy in the morning, by about noon it had stopped and by the time the tour started at 3, it was clearing off and we had a mix of sun and cloud. Which was great for us, but the poor tour guides (ours was lead by Kim – not Tate 😅) were still drying out from the morning’s tour.

The tours do not include exteriors of Home Farm (located off-site), Butler’s Farm run by Moira Dingle (off-site; the farm – Brookland Farm – is an actual working farm leased by ITV for days required for filming exteriors). The Sharma’s home and Eric Pollard’s home are on private property owned by the Mayor of Harewood, and the Dingle family homestead is also on private property leased by ITV. The rest of the village exteriors, are part of the tour. The Tour starts at the Sharma & Sharma factory, then a walk down through the Village. All the flowers and shrubbery are grown on site in a greenhouse, and planted as per season – and as they film six weeks out, they are in bloom for air dates, rather than filming time.


Me outside the Sharma & Sharma factory.

Smithy Cottage (Rhona’s home) & the vet’s surgery had the doors open for the tour guests to look inside (but not actually go inside). Many of the building’s interiors are actually storage spaces for props, lighting, actors and extras green-rooms, bathrooms, etc.. There are a few buildings that are used for film interiors but most interiors are done at ITV Studios in Leeds. The church was also available for tour guests to go inside and look around.


Smithy Cottage & the Vet’s surgery.


Rhona’s living room, Smithy Cottage


Rhona’s kitchen, Smithy Cottage

Out and about the noteable businesses in the Village:


Veterinary Surgery


The Cafe and Brenda’s home.


The Woolpack Pub


Me outside the Woolpack


Beauty & Bernice – Bernice’s beauty salon


Barton & Dingle Automotive


David’s Shop


The Grange Bed & Breakfast


The Parish Church of St. Mary’s, Emmerdale


Inside the vestry at St. Mary’s Church, Emmerdale


Emmerdale Village Hall

Fun fact about the village hall – in 2015 during Debbie Dingle’s wedding to Pete Barton, the filming took extra time, due to the fact that the hall was purposely destroyed three times with the helicopter crash and resulting explosions, and it had to be rebuilt each time, so filming was done in stages.

Resident homes in the Village


Woodbine Cottage – Harriett Finch’s home


Tug Ghyll Cottage – Vanessa Woodfield’s home


Dan and Kerry’s Cottage


Ross & Pete Barton’s


Mill Brook Cottage – Megan Macey’s home


Jacob’s Fold – Debbie Dingle’s home


Mill Cottage – Aaron & Robert’s home


Laurel’s cottage

Sometimes the tour company – Continuum Attractions – are excluded from some areas depending on if it’s potentially story spoiler related – such as the graveyard. If there’s a character that’s due to be killed off, they’ll often prohibit access to the graveyard for a certain time. Fortunately, at the time of our tour, we were able to go through (along the path) the graveyard to view some of the gravestones and the like. FYI – Emma Barton’s is a small cross near the back – and no one goes down there. 😀

Fun fact: Some former Emmerdale crew when they’re finished with the show, choose to have a gravestone marker in the Emmerdale graveyard as a marker of their time working on Emmerdale, so occasionally one might see a non-character marker in the graveyard.







Other bits & bobs noted around the village. Unfortunately due to health & safety, we couldn’t actually go on the playground equipment. Sad face.




Stone bridge out to Butler’s Farm (Moira & Cain’s home)


The bus stop


The sign into Emmerdale. The lower one reads: Please drive carefully through our village – however, the extensive flower growth covers up the lower sign.


The drive out Hotten road which connects Emmerdale to the dales beyond.

Get a glimpse into the Emmerdale Village set


Google Maps overhead look at Emmerdale Village

See you soon for the tour of the Emmerdale Studio Experience – where I play at pulling a pint in the Woolpack pub. 🙂

Posted in Commentary, Entertainment, Photographs, Television | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing Meme: Cool Asks for Fic Writers

Questionnaire snagged from a few others via Tumblr. This is a bit of a first for me – at least in terms of responding to a questionnaire on writing

Describe yourself how you would describe a character you’re introducing.
Mmm. Petite. Early-mid 40s. Adept at many things. Nurse, photographer, writer, crafter. Introvert. Observer.

Is there any specific ritual you go through while/before/after your writing?
Often tea & biscuits (digestives, gingersnap or shortbread)

What is your absolute favourite kind of fic to write?
Drama w/ slight to moderate angst.

Are there any other fic writers you admire? If so, who and why?
Many. And they vary by fandoms that I’ve participated in. However, Melissa Good (Xena /Dar & Kerry) particularly stands out because she was one of the early fic writers I started reading and I’ve gone back to read her stuff many times. Her stories are very well-written. She does over-arcing love stories that are not explicitly sexual in detail, nor do they need to be. Her love scenes, when written, fit in very well with the tone and style as the rest of the story. Trust me. That vision of Xena scaling a mountain, risking death more than once, then running – practically flying – over the fields in a rainstorm to the borderlands between the Amazons and Centaurs to save Gabrielle from a renegade shit disturber amazon, then landing a big kiss on Gabrielle in front of said crowd of Amazons and Centaurs is pretty legendary. Story is called ‘At A Distance’). The series of stories is ‘A Journey of Soulmates’ and begins with ‘A Warrior By Any Other Name’. Melissa’s Dar & Kerry series starts with ‘Tropical Storm’

How many words can you write if you sit down and concentrate intensely for an hour?
Don’t know that I’ve actually counted. When I get into a zen stage of writing where the characters keep talking I just go with the flow and don’t stop until:
a) I need a trip to the loo
b) my tea has gone too cold/run out of biscuits
c) my stomach is growling to loudly to ignore.

First fic/pairing you wrote for? (If no pairing, describe the plot)
Oh heavens. Not published anywhere, but Beauty & The Beast (Catherine & Vincent) – the Linda Hamilton & Ron Perlman version. I was in my late teens. Pre-internet.

Inspiration, time, or motivation. Choose two.
Inspiration & time

Why do you choose to write?
An outlet to explore feelings, explore characters that speak to me on some level, and sometimes to challenge myself.

Do you ever have plans to write anything other than fic?
I have an original story in the works. I’ve also written a published academic article in a Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal back many yrs ago when I was a nurse trainee. I’ve also conducted interviews with musicians, writers, creators.

What inspires you the most?
Different things. Sometimes it’s being out in nature, conversations, reading other well-written stories, sometimes music, travel.

Weirdest thing you’ve ever written/thought about writing/etc.?
At the moment I can’t recall. Well, not completely true. I can write a love scene and have done in the Otalia Virtual Seasons, but I can’t write explicit sex scenes as it feels weird to me. I’m not a prude; I can read them at times – if it feels right within the context of the rest of the story and it’s well-written without feeling like I’m reading a young-adult’s attempt at porn (made even worse when the characters are most definitely NOT in their 20s-30s). I’m also not a fan of vulgarity or flowery terms for sex.

A fic you wish you had written better, and why?
My early stuff seems a bit cringeworthy now but then we learn from our past and reading other well-written stories. Also, as we age, our own life-experiences and awareness of the world around us contributes to our overall knowledge (or at least it should). How I wrote as a teenager/early 20s is quite different from how I write now (nearly mid 40s), as well it should.
Reading other well-written stories with correct spelling, proper punctuation and grammar, verb-tense agreement, etc. REALLY helps improve one’s writing skills, as well as really knowing the characters (and their development). Getting a beta-reader (editor) who can constructively critique your stories to bring out the best in your work is also a recommendation. I’ve been writing fic off and on for about 25 years.

Favourite fic from another author?

  • Lunacatriona – ‘Waves that Rolled You Under’ (Holby City – Bernie & Serena). (Available online)
  • LarkhallReturns: ‘Love With Deception’ and ‘Abuse of Power’ (Bad Girls – Nikki & Helen AU). I don’t think either are online anymore (I have them in PDF format for reading offline); they might be accessible via WaybackMachine search – it’s been a while since I checked.
  • SelVecanti: ‘Reunion’ (Babylon 5 – Ivanova/Talia, set post S4.) Brilliant story. Capt Ivanova has a new Warlock class ship made unknowingly to her at the beginning using Shadow technology. Psi-Corp are trying to get to Ivanova by using Talia. (Archived in PDF format offline; no longer available online as far as I can tell).
  • Nordica: ‘Jungle Fever’ (Hospital Central – Maca & Esther, plus other HC regulars). An AU set at a Médicins Sans Frontières clinic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Another story I have archived in PDF format offline)
  • G.L. Dartt – After Larkhall series (Bad Girls – Helen & Nikki) series, starting with ‘Dead Slow’ – some odd coding on the site at the moment, though.
  • And just to plug something I was a part of (both as a writer, editor, and sometimes season planning collaborator) was the Otalia Virtual Seasons (Guiding Light – Olivia & Natalia).

Your favourite side pairings to put in?
Depends on the fandoms I’m writing in at the time. And not necessarily romantic pairings, but sometimes just friendship pairings.

  • Holby City sides: Sacha & Essie.
  • Call the Midwife sides: Delia & Phyllis friendship or pretty much any dynamic with Sister Monica Joan. (This is stuff I’ve only partially gotten round to writing)
  • Scott & Bailey sides: Gill Murray & Julie Dodson – though sometimes they’re the main with Janet & Rachel as the sides.
  • Guiding Light sides: Doris & Blake

Your guilty writing pleasure?
Don’t know that I really have one, at least that I can think of at the moment.

Do you have structured ideas of how your story is supposed to go, or make it up as you write?
I have a general sense of direction for the story, with notes of plot points and such. Somethings can get moved around a bit as needed. For shorter one-off pieces it’s a bit easier than multi-chapter stories, but I’ve got an idea for the full plot generally planned out. Sometimes than changes based on character development.
When I was writing with the OVS (mentioned above), we had an over-arcing plan of things that we wanted to accomplish over the season, so specific plot points were planned out well in advance. However, like a serial drama, one story had to follow from the previous so we needed to be aware of what the writer before us was incorporating so that there was continuity between one story and the next, also to lay in bits in our story that would be picked up in the next one (and future stories). What was really fun was coordinating the multi-author stories in the season, where each writer would take a different group of characters to write about and making sure no one character was in two different places at the same time.

Would you describe yourself as a fast writer?
On the one-off pieces, usually. Or if I’ve got a deadline. Multi-part stories, not so much…unless I’ve got a deadline.

How old were you when you started writing?
Crikey. In my teens I wrote for my high school Creative Writing class book (circa 1989-1991). In university I wrote for the uni newspapers (and for two terms I was a graphics editor). Before that, just my own jotting of ideas.

Why did you start writing?
As a way to express ideas & feelings

4 sentences from your work that you’re proud of.
Oh, good heavens. There are many, over 20+ yrs of writing, writing in over a dozen fandoms.

Posted in Commentary, Interviews, Personal | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Women Direct: Storytelling a changing vision

An interview with actress and director, Cady McClain
By J. Lynn Stapleton

When under two percent of the top 100 films are directed by women, it is not unreasonable to question the larger issue of ingrained cultural bias against a woman’s ability to lead.

Double Daytime Emmy Award winning actress, Cady McClain has a new creative venture underway, a five-hour serialized documentary series called Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct, which explores the challenges and biases faced by female directors, along with providing tools and skills needed to help women succeed in directing, whether that be web-based programming, television or film.


Cady McClain. © Courtney Lindberg Photography

In order to counter long-held biases and outdated belief systems within the industry, a revolutionary change is needed. Cady has travelled to multiple countries, interviewing nearly fifty award-winning film and television directors including Meera Menon (Equity), Anne Makepeace (We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân), Nicole Conn (Elena Undone, A Perfect Ending), Bethany Rooney (NCIS, Criminal Minds), Joanna Kerns (Jane the VirginPretty Little Liars, Nashville), Sarah Gavron (Suffragette), Jennifer Pepperman (One Life to Live on-line reboot), Tina Cessa Ward (Anyone But Me), and with newcomers like Kimberly McCullough (Nice Guys Finish Last, Pretty Little Liars), each with the goal of examining the challenges and obstacles – cultural, professional and creative, seeking and finding ways through. This documentary also hopes to serve as a peer-to-peer mentorship for men and women seeking to explore their dreams of storytelling.

I had long been a fan of Cady McClain’s work on All My Children as Dixie Martin, so I was delighted to be able to have the opportunity to interview Ms. McClain about her thoughts and ideas about her debut documentary and what this means for her.

Lynn: The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has done a fair bit of research in terms of gender bias that exists in the number of women present in films/television, and the types of roles (personality, career, etc.), speaking and non-speaking roles. The idea behind their motto: “If they see it, they can be it.” I see this motto equally applying to leadership roles behind the screens. With so very few women in the upper tier of women creating, directing and producing top-grossing projects, what made this ‘Seeing is Believing: Women Direct’ project personal for you?

Cady: I think there is a lot of truth in the saying “A rising tide lifts all boats.” I noticed that when a group is doing well, then all the members in that group have a better chance at doing well. In that vein, I felt that if women directors across the board didn’t get a better chance, then it was going to be unpleasant going in my own directing career. So it was important for me to do something to help the group. I also really needed to learn from those who have gone far further than I have. It’s been an honor to get to interview so many amazing women. It’s like I had 50 intensives with incredible women. Now I feel a responsibility to share what I’ve had such a privilege to learn.

Personally, my mom really struggled with believing she had a shot in any career, especially over 40. So I wanted to get out in the world to see what I could really do if I took on a different belief system. I do believe we are the stories we tell ourselves, so I wanted to create a new and exciting story that would challenge and uplift both myself and the women I knew who also struggled with passed down, limiting ideas.

Lynn: What are some of the pitfalls and biases that exist in the film and television industries for/against women’s leadership roles? How do you believe these biases can be overcome?

Cady: I’ve heard, “women don’t understand technical issues as well as men do because our brains aren’t made the same.” I’ve heard, “women are good with actors because actors are like babies.” And I’ve heard that “women make good editors because editing is like sewing.”

I suck at sewing but I’m really good at editing. If I treated an actor like a baby they’d notice and resent it. And I taught myself how to use a professional camera in 4 days by reading the manual. So those biases are clearly false.

Pitfalls are that you’re likely to hear some sexist remarks somewhere along the way. How to deal with it is up to each individual. I recently heard a story about a woman crew member working on the floor on a line of television cables, and a male crew member walked by and said, “Get off your knees, you’ve already got the job.” I’m sure that fellow thought he was being funny, but if you reversed that scenario, I can assure you the man on his knees wouldn’t be laughing. Crude talk is nothing new in TV or film, but I have to say I think it’s classless and tasteless. My general response is, “How’s your wife?” That usually shuts them up.

Unfortunately, bias is an equal opportunity offender. Both men and women hold these limiting beliefs as to what women are capable of. So we all need to get onboard the concept that women are many things, not only mothers or wives or sisters… we are whatever we choose to be. And men can’t be relegated to the role of “bringing home the bacon.” Our “selves” can’t be put into these cookie cutters. Ultimately, biases are meant to control others. When we allow them to control us, we are agreeing with someone else’s fear.

Lynn: I do see more women in leading positions in creating, writing, directing, producing roles in web and television more so than in film, though that is growing slowly. Where do you think the best inroads are to expand women’s leadership roles in this regard – in web projects (such as the Emmy Award winning Venice the Series), television and film?

Cady: I see that women are getting a lot more opportunity on the internet, which is really great. But what we need is to not get kicked out when an area proves to be fiscally successful. Because that’s what happens: where there is money and status, the aggression gets very high, and the women tend to get kicked out of the game. Kicked off the playground, so to speak. That needs to stop happening, and we all need to stop letting that happen.  I believe we are stronger when we are unified and supportive of one another.


Design by Xaviera Lopez


Lynn: You’ve had the opportunity to explore this documentary through interviews with many people in the industry. Each person brings new ideas and different approaches to the processes that go on behind the camera. What have you learned the most along this journey and how do you hope to bring that knowledge forward to help others coming up the ladder?

Cady: It’s hard to put it all into a few sentences. But I can say that “Trust your instincts” is not a suggestion, it’s a rule and a daily practice. “Follow YOUR path” is another. You can’t step onto another’s path and live their life. But you can look at the path ahead of you and think about what is the right next step.

I’ve also learned that you don’t have to shout to be heard, in fact you can speak softly…. but you do need to speak clearly and directly and, honestly, it helps if you have a low voice if you are leading a group. Communication is one of the main tools a director has. That’s just one of many tools I’ve learned, and as with all tools, it’s really a matter of putting it into practice until it becomes a habit.

I believe that seeing all these women persevering, learning HOW they’ve persevered and stepped into leadership positions will help women of all walks of life feel more supported and confident in reaching for their own goals.

Lynn: What challenges you and inspires you?

Cady: My husband, Jon Lindstrom, is a big source of inspiration. He’s really supportive of my doing this doc, and has given me a lot of great advice. His passion for the work and his ability to stay in what is really a very challenging business whether you are a man or a woman, keeps me going.

I also really love how the technology is becoming more and more consumer friendly, and I’m really excited about how genres are mixing and creating new forms.

Despite the challenges, it’s a great time to be in this industry! Things are changing for women, and I’m thrilled to be a small part of pushing the change forward.

There is currently an SIB: Women Direct Indigogo campaign to raise funds for the post-production costs; there are a lot of lovely perks, including tote bags and t-shirts with the Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct logo design created by Chilean artist Xaviera Lopez (seen above), journals, caps, a signed copy of the Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct documentary companion book, signed photos and much more. Feel free to choose a perk that you would like to help support this creative endeavour. If you’re unable to purchase a perk, you can help spread the love via social media. The campaign runs through until 25th November 2016.

Cady can also currently be seen co-directing and acting in the fifth season of Crystal Chappell’s Venice the Series web drama.

Cady McClain’s: Twitter
Search tags: #SIBWomenDirect

Posted in Entertainment, Film, Interviews, Interviews, Television, Webseries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Call the Midwife – Series 5: Missing Scenes [505-508]

Herein is the second half of the Missing Scenes from series five of “Call The Midwife”. The missing scenes are ones that have been edited out by PBS for their broadcasts, which differ from the full-length broadcasts that the BBC airs – PBS versions are about 3-5 minutes cut from the originals. If you want the full versions I recommend purchasing the DVDs, available Amazon UK (Region 2; requires a multi-regional DVD player) or Amazon US (Region 1). As mentioned in the previous post, all dialogue and screen-captured images contained herein belongs to Heidi Thomas and her production team, and Neal Street Productions, and the BBC.

The first half (501-504) is available to view here. I will be adding the remaining episodes until the current series finishes on PBS.

Episode 505

At home with the Turners, Patrick arrives in the living room (as Shelagh and Timothy are preparing for supper) with the latest copy of The Annual Report from the National Office of Health for the Borough of Poplar for 1960.

Patrick: (Holding up the report) Ta-da! Hot off the press.
Shelagh: Is that the health report?I feel a drum roll is in order.
Patrick: Well, shall we see how we’ve fared?
Timothy: Thought it might at least be the new James Bond novel.
Shelagh: Far more exciting. Patrick Turner, GP, licensed to practice medicine, and secret agent, Shelagh Turnova, save Poplar from ill health and disease. (Shelagh and Patrick chuckling).


In the Poplar Community Centre, Trixie is continuing with her Keep Fit class. This week they’re working with hula hoops, some with more success than others.
Trixie: That’s it ladies. If we want to reduce, we must keep moving. And make sure you all have enough room. No injuries tonight please. That’s it!
Violet: (Swings hers a bit too much and it lets go) Oh, Sorry. (She goes to retrieve the hoop).

Trixie: (Blows her whistle for everyone to stop) And everyone sitting. Bottoms firmly on the floor. (All get seated) And arms up and arms down. And now we raise our legs as if we’re pedalling a bicycle. Keeping the arms moving, and pedal and pedal.
Violet: (Collapses backwards on the floor). Oh, sorry, Miss Franklin! My bike’s got a puncture. (The ladies around her chuckle).
Trixie: (smiling) You may dismount. Just this once, Mrs. Buckle. (Giggles) And pedal and pedal…



At the clinic, women waiting about, young children running about. A woman comes up to Phyllis with a urine sample wrapped in a coloured paper bag. Shelagh is sat at the desk doing some registrations. There’s a few men sitting with their wives in the waiting chairs.

Mrs. Cadman: Oh, not here, Nurse. Not in front of the gents. It’s my you-know-what.
Shelagh: Take a seat, Mrs. Cadman. (Mrs. Cadman goes to sit right next to Mr. Dawley).
(Phyllis takes the sample into the testing area where Trixie and Barbara are)
Phyllis: It’s got to stop. We can’t have women too embarrassed to handle the samples because men are present.
Trixie: (Takes the sample out of the bag.) I’m rather more disappointed at being given urine as a gift.
Barbara: I think the men are quite a comfort to their wives.
Phyllis: Well, they’re no comfort to me.
(Trixie and Barbara look at each other in amusement as Phyllis leaves the room for the main waiting area, where she addresses the men sitting there.)
Phyllis: Ah, gentlemen, we’re short of space. If you’d repair to the corridor.
Sr Winifred: Please come through, Mrs. Dawley.
Mr. Dawley: (Helping his very pregnant wife up from the chairs) Can you manage, my dear?
Phyllis: Today, if you would, Mr. Dawley.


Slight continuation of that scene – in curtains at the clinic. Sr. Winifred is with Mrs. Roseanne Dawley who’s quite nervous.

Roseanne: I was hearing about how the baby shouldn’t sleep on its back in case it gets sick. And it got me to thinking, what would make it sick.
Sr. Winifred: (checking Mrs. Dawley’s ankles for swelling) Oh, there are lots of little things. (Looks reassuringly at Mrs. Dawley) All babies get gripes and upsets.
Roseanne: Such as what, Nurse?
Sr. Winifred: (Returning to assess her ankles) Have you had a little look at the pamphlet I gave you?
Roseanne: I misplaced it.
Sr. Winifred: i’ll get you another one. (Turns to get one of the pamphlets from the table behind them.) But wind, over-feeding. They’re very common, Mrs. Dawley. You mustn’t worry.
Roseanne: But who do I telephone, if it does get sick?
Sr. Winifred: Us, Mrs. Dawley. Any time, day or night. Even if you have plumped for a hospital delivery over us.
Roseanne: Because they keep you in for 10 days, til they’re quite sure you’re ready to be at home, and til they’re sure baby’s ready, too.
Sr. Winifred: You and baby will be a pair. You’ll be ready together.



At the Dawley residence, Roseanne Dawley is arranging flowers while the cleaner was doing some dusting.

Cleaner: You do that beautiful. Fred’s mum always did the flowers. It’s where he got his love of incense and whatnot. (She comes closer to Roseanne and finds the Ante-Natal pamphlet Sr Winifred had given Roseanne.) What do they say these days about baby?
Roseanne: I don’t quite know. I haven’t got to it just yet.

Cleaner: Sir says I’m to come each day when the baby is here (this surprises Roseanne). Keep the house the way it’s always been.
Roseanne: Something so small can’t make so much mess, can it, Mrs. Dash?
Cleaner: That little scrap’s gonna be the biggest thing that ever came into your life. But, better get on now, Mrs. Dawley.



The nuns and midwives are all sat down to a meal chatting away then Delia enters the room and they all stand. Delia looks at Patsy a little surprised and curious as they all raise their glasses of lemonade.

Sr. Julienne: Nurse Busby, without your quick-thinking and calmness (Patsy looks on Delia with complete admiration), today may have ended very differently. (They all nod)
Delia: I only did what you all do every day.
Barbara: The difference is, we’ve been trained for it.
Delia: I was a bit rusty, but those obstetric lectures never really leave you, do they?
Patsy: Not if you’re taught by Mr. Slade. If they could bottle that man, we could do away with gas and air. A more numbing fellow you couldn’t find. (Laughter all around)
Sr. Mary Cynthia: It’s been ages since we had a BBA. (At Delia’s silent query) Born before arrival of a midwife. (Delia nods)
Phyllis: BBB, born before bicycle. (Laughter) Wretched things. I don’t know how you manage them.
Sr. Winifred: Well, that’s telephone duty sorted out. I’ll be washing my hair and reading magazines from now on.
Delia: I have to admit, it’s a lot more rewarding than male surgical.
Sr. Monica Joan: I have always assumed the results of the male organ to be more rewarding than the organ, itself. (Everyone stops a moment as they look like they can’t believe she made a rather crude comment, given the company).
Sr. Julienne: (After a rather brief moment, raises her glass again.) To Nurse Busby. We could not wish for a more trusted reserve.
All: (They raise their glasses, and Patsy bestows Delia an adoring proud smile) To Nurse Busby. (And Delia raises hers in a slightly embarrassed thank you).



At the Dawleys’ residence, in their bedroom, Mr. Dawley is enamoured as he is holding the baby whilst a disengaged Roseanne is leaning against the head of the bed.

Mr. Dawley: This little thing we’ve created is so entirely perfect. I know what my mother meant by not fully knowing love or fear until she had me.



At Dr. Turner’s office, Dr. Turner and Timothy are moving a desk around to make room for his chest clinic meeting.

Timothy: Although strictly a volunteer helper, I’d hope to see my good work reflected in this week’s pocket money.
Dr. Turner: I’m sure you would.
(Shelagh comes in from another area and helps them with putting out chairs).


Nonnatus House kitchen. Barbara is washing dishes as Phyllis was drying. Sr. Winifred is putting the dishes away.

Phyllis: I worry that the traumatic birth has put Mrs. Dawley in a peculiar way of thinking.
Barbara: There was something rather lost about her in the shop. A sort of sadness, as if she would have preferred to stayed in there with us. Could it be a touch of the baby blues?
Phyllis: She’s yet to forge a link with baby. That much is apparent.
Sr. Winifred: I don’t think Mrs Dawley ever fully believed she was pregnant.
Phyllis: I’ll keep a weather eye on her. (Barbara is scraping at a plate to get off some dried on food.) You think we might try gathering a little pace? I should like to devote what’s left of my evening to Spanish.
(This startles Barbara who drops the plate back in the water, resulting in soap suds flying up at her face, and sends Sr. Winifred giggling.)


At the Maternity Home / Dr. Turner’s Office, Shelagh was tending to a patient then goes for a biscuit on the cart – trying to keep her hands otherwise occupied – when Phyllis comes in requesting help, startling her.

Phyllis: Might I beg a favour, Mrs. Turner?
Shelagh: (Around a mouthful of cookie) Of course.
Phyllis: Mrs. Roseanne Dawley.
Shelagh: Oh yes. How…How are she and the baby? (Picks up the plate of cookies and takes them into the office and places them on the desk, Phyllis following behind her.)
Phyllis: She’s upped and left what, by all accounts, looks a perfect life. Would you have a glance at her notes, see if there’s anything that may indicate any difficulties?
Shelagh: Certainly, Nurse Crane. (Wipes cookie crumbs from her lips then heads to the filing drawers to find Roseanne’s records)
Phyllis: I’m worried she might have got herself into a bit of a pickle.
Shelagh: She registered two years ago.
Phyllis: Mmm-hmmm.
Shelagh: First visit was to confirm pregnancy.
Phyllis: Previous notes? Could they be under her maiden name, Lakey?
Shelagh: (Sighs as she goes through another drawer and not finding what she’s looking for) Oh, there’s nothing for a Roseanne Lakey. They just still be with her previous doctor.
Phyllis: Find them for me, Mrs. Turner. Quick as you like, please.
Shelagh: Should you telephone the police?
Phyllis: I think perhaps I shall have to. (Shelagh nods and Phyllis takes her leave as Shelagh goes back to the filing cabinet.)


At the Poplar Board of Health, Dr. Turner is sat waiting for a meeting with the Board director. He’s sat making origami as he waits. Another man in the waiting room lights up a cigarette and Dr. Turner takes in a deep breath then crushes his origami crane.

Director: All right, Turner. Let’s get this over.
Dr. Turner files into the man’s office ahead of him.


In thankfulness that none of Delia’s or Patsy’s scenes were cut at all this week, I give you these adorable images of Delia assisting the birth over the phone and Patsy being proud of her. 🙂



Episode 506

Dr. Turner has brought his medical bag round to Nonnatus House to have his instruments cleaned. Phyllis takes the bag and places it up on the counter in the clinic room.

Phyllis: The autoclave is coming to the end of its cycle. I shall replenish your instruments as soon as it concludes.
Dr. Turner: Thank you, Nurse Crane. They said they’d come and repair the one at the surgery tomorrow.
Phyllis: (Opening one side of the bag) Oh, Doctor, whatever is this? (picks item out of the bag).
Dr. Turner: Cornish pasty.
Phyllis: Or, more precisely, half of one! And would it have killed you to sit down for five minutes and eat the whole thing? (She throws it in the garbage bin under the counter). Now, hop it and put your feet up in the parlour while I sort you out some instruments. (Shakes her head.)


Out in the courtyard at the neighbourhood picnic for the Pensioner’s Tea, Shelagh and Barbara are operating one of the food tables, as some of the Nonnatus nurses are doing hostess duties and delivering food/drinks. Trixie has come up to the table.

Shelagh: Mr. Pillbean has demanded a refill. I think he might just find we keep him waiting.
Trixie: Shelagh, did you know Mrs. Hills was expecting again?
Shelagh: Not until now.
Trixie: I just wondered who referred her to St. Cuthbert’s.
Patsy: (In her Scout leader uniform, arrives at the table and sighs) Frightfully sorry. Dreamless scone alert.
Shelagh: Run out of cream again?
Patsy: I think certain guests have been taking more than their fair share.
Trixie: I threatened to put one man over my knee but it only encouraged him. (Patsy gave a big grin in response.)
Shelagh: (calling out) Timothy!
Tim: (Comes over to the table from the piano; he’s also in his scout uniform) Please don’t make me play any more.
Shelagh: You’ve done your bit, dear. Now, run inside and open three more tins of Nestle’s cream.
Patsy: (digs into her pocket) In the meantime, I popped into you-know-where last night and you-know-what’s ready for you-know-when. (Both Tim and Shelagh are smiling as Patsy hands him over a key.) I think you better take charge of this. (All laughing as Tim leaves to heading into Nonnatus House).



In Nonnatus House kitchen, Delia is pouring some Ovaltine into mugs from a saucepan. Patsy and Barbara are sitting at the table. Delia’s wearing a sleeveless base of a dress she’d been making.

Patsy: How awful! We were only waiting up to see if you’d help Delia with her bust darts.
Delia: It’s all hands on deck once I start tangling with bodices. (places a mug in front of Barbara) I’m a terrible seamstress.
Barbara: (Talking about the young woman who’d been attacked and ran into her and Tom). There was nowhere she could turn to. No one who would help her.
Delia: Apart from you.
Barbara: (Sighs) A few kind words and a bit of antiseptic.
Patsy: There’s nothing to stop you from reporting it to the police. Perhaps you should.
Delia: It can’t do any harm. It might make you feel better.
Trixie: (Walking into the kitchen) Hello, girls. How was your evening?
Barbara: Well, er, we enjoyed the film. How was art history?
Trixie: Riveting. We’re doing Vermeer. I can’t resist a good interior.
Delia: I wondered if things had gotten a bit emotional. Your mascara’s run a bit.
Trixie: (Rubbing the fingers on both hands under her eyes). Oh, I sat upstairs on the bus, it got wretchedly smoky. Is that Ovaltine?
Delia: Yep.(Turns back to the stove to fix Trixie a mug of the drink)



Nonnatus House dining room. Sr. Mary Cynthia has laid a plate of food in front of Sr. Monica Joan.

Sr. Monica Joan: Very prettily done, Sister. But you cannot tempt me.
Sr. Mary Cynthia: Everyone has noticed that you aren’t eating properly at mealtime, Sister.
Sr. Monica Joan: My strength comes from another source. And I hope you do not need to ask from whence.
Sr. Mary Cynthia: No, of course not, but…
Sr. Monica Joan: How recently did you study for novice’s vows? Were you not appraised of the practice of mortification of the flesh?
Sr. Mary Cynthia: Yes. Are you trying to fast?
Sr. Monica Joan: (Sighs) I have few joys and, therefore, little to surrender.
Sr. Mary Cynthia: But Sister, you found the Lenten fast very hard. Why now?
Sr. Monica Joan: I am in fair health now, and able to sustain the sacrifice.
Sr. Mary Cynthia: But, Sister, if you want to fast, you must tell the rest of the community what you’re doing. That way we can uphold you.
Sr. Monica Joan: (Breathing heavily) Very well. You may remove this platter of frivolities.
Sr. Mary Cynthia: (Stuttering) Of course.
Sr. Monica Joan: (Sighs)



In the Poplar Community Hall supply room, Patrick, Shelagh and Patrick are going through the scouting supplies they’ve been approved for use for their trip.

Dr. Turner: Good Scout army surplus. (Hands Tim a large tent bag pack). Perfect for a week in the New Forest.
Shelagh: Patsy says they’ve been serving the Cubs of Poplar for 15 years.
Tim: (Opening the ties of the bag, looking at part of the tent) I remember this one from when we did our camping badge at Kelsey Bill. It’s got bullet holes along the ridge.
Shelagh: I’m quite sure they’re not bullet holes, Timothy. They were probably made by moths.
Patrick: Or mice. (Continuing to set aside items for camping
Shelagh: it does all smell rather musty. (Picks up a camping cooking pot.) There’s mould in this billy can.
Patrick: Oh, it just needs a quick swill in some hot water. (Sighs) Shelagh! This holiday is about getting back to nature and being together as a family.
Shelagh: We’ll enjoy it, won’t we?
Patrick: Yes, we will. Because we’ve earned it.



Episode 507

In the Nonnatus House Clinical Room, Phyllis, Sr Mary Cynthia are gathered, talking.

Trixie: I’m sure you deserved it (as she, Patsy and Barbara arrive giggling.)
Phyllis: (Taking a look at her uniform watch) And a round of applause to the Beverly Sisters. Better late than never.
Trixie: (As Barbara looks at her own uniform watch) We’re not late. It’s 8:00 on the dot.
Phyllis: If you spent less time lathering on the eye black, Nurse Franklin, you’d have been down here five minutes ago and ready to start work five minutes ago. Like Sister Mary Cynthia. (Patsy and Barbara are still half-giggling that they’re not in trouble). I’d be careful if I were you, Nurse Mount (as Patsy is yawning), it may be October, but there’s still plenty of flies still looking for a home. (Tim Turner comes in, smartly dressed in his school uniform). Good morning, Master Turner. You’re looking very spruce. New blazer?
Tim: Yes. Although it’s still purple, unfortunately. (The nurses chuckle).
Phyllis: So I see. Insulin?
Tim: My mum asked me to drop it off. And she says can Sister Julienne call in at the practice after surgery hours.
Sr. Mary Cynthia: I’ll tell her. She’s already asked to see me in her office.
Phyllis: Thank you.


Sr. Julienne’s office. She is standing by the window, when there is a knock on her office door. Sr. Mary Cynthia opens the door and pops in.

Sr. Mary Cynthia: Tea is on the table, Sister.
Sr. Julienne: I shan’t join you today. I feel I need to spend some quiet time in chapel. Perhaps you’ll say grace instead?
Sr. Mary Cynthia: Of course.
Sr Mary Cynthia closes the door behind her and Sr. Julienne is quite pensive. She heads to her desk and pulls out a well used copy of the Bible, scanning through a couple of pages of scripture looking for something.



Morning mealtime at Nonnatus House. During breakfast, the nurses and nuns are preparing their meals at the table.

Phyllis: Barge people are a law unto themselves. They always were. They don’t call them water gypsies for no reason. I…(stops and stares at the bryl cream that Tom had left on the wallpaper from an earlier scene) Good grief. Where did that stain on the wallpaper come from?
Barbara: (looks at the wall and with pretence replies) What stain?
Sr. Mary Cynthia: Oh dear. I do hope it’s not another patch of damp. Sister Julienne’s worried the building is getting wet rot. (Phyllis is inspecting the stain further, sniffing at it.)
Barbara: Ooh, perhaps its just an optical illusion.
Phyllis: (taps finger on the wall) This isn’t moisture. It’s grease.
Sr. Monica Joan: I surmise a manifestation from another realm. Spirits have been known to talk through the approbation of strange substances.
Phyllis: Well, whatever it is, it’s strange enough. Smells rather masculine to me.
Barbara: Masculine?
Phyllis: Though what it’s doing six feet up the wall is anyone’s guess.
(Sister Julienne enters the room and heads to her chair at the head of the table).
Sr. Julienne: Good morning, ladies.
All: Good morning, Sister.
Sr. Julienne: Nurse Crane will issue the morning schedule after breakfast. But, this evening, I would like you all to attend a special seminar here at Nonnatus House.
Trixie: I have an obligation this evening. I have it every week.
Sr. Julienne: Of course. I’m sorry. After a great deal of prayer and reflection, I have asked Dr. Turner to come and talk to us about the new contraceptive pill, which will be available within the next few weeks.
Patsy: That’s absolutely tremendous news.
Sr. Julienne: I’ve also invited Mr. Hereward to join us, so he can give us a Christian perspective.
Sr. Winifred: It’s a shame Sister Evangelina isn’t here. She’d have had plenty to say about it all.
Sr. Julienne: Sister Evangelina has elected to be absent. We must proceed without her view.



At the Mother & Baby Clinic at the Poplar Community Centre, the nuns and midwives are attending their patients. Phyllis is attending a young Ceylon woman and her infant. Sister Monica Joan is doing arts & crafts with the children.

Sr. Monica Joan: (as one child holds up his creation) Excellent! (to another girl with hers) Oh, really good!

Trixie is handing out orange juice and milk tokens.
Woman: Thank you.

Barbara: (weighing her patient) You haven’t gained anything in a month, Gina. Top of the milk for you and make sure you help yourself to an extra potato. (Gina nods) That being said, I’m not sure how much longer you’ve got left.
Gina: Still nothing doing, Nurse. I thought if I came down here, it might stop me painting the bathroom, or my husband.
Barbara: Oh, is he getting restless, too?
Gina: Not so as you’d notice. It’s like he doesn’t even know there’s a baby on the way. (Barbara’s looks like she’s not quite sure what to respond to that.)



At the mother and baby home, Patsy is attending her patient, Daisy. She’s taking a listen to the woman’s blood pressure.

Daisy: (Looking around). Am I the only one in here?
Patsy: Yes. You’re lucky. We’re unusually quiet at the moment.
Daisy: Ceiling is so high. Makes me feel dizzy, even though I’m not.

Patsy: Your blood pressure is rather good today.
Shelagh: Morning, Mrs. Blacker. A doctor will be here to check you out shortly, and I’ve come to ask if you want a soft or a hard-boiled egg.
Daisy: I have bread in the mornings, usually.
Patsy: Eggs are surprisingly rich in iron.
Daisy: (Referring to the bundle of folded linen that Shelagh is carrying) What’s this?
Shelagh: Nightdress, dressing gown and slippers.
Patsy: I told you, everything will be provided.
Daisy: No, I mean this (pointing at the lettering on the clothing)
Shelagh: It says, ‘Property of Kelinworth Row Maternity Home.” We write that on everything. (Dailsy looks unimpressed).



During the storm, with the power out, Phyllis is trying to direct an ill Gina, and her husband down the stairs of their tower flat, whilst she holds the new baby.

Phyllis: That’s the ticket, kids. One foot in front of the other.
Leslie: (holding on to his wife) Here you go. Almost there, sweetheart. (At a landing, they stop as they hear glass breaking)
Phyllis: Still in one piece, kids? (Gina leans over the banister and vomits)
Leslie: She’s being sick.



In the barge, Patsy is helping Daisy deliver her baby.

Patsy: That’s it. (Waiting as Daisy is doing most of the work herself, breathing and pushing the baby through.) That’s wonderful, Daisy. (Daisy gives her a look as if to say she’s not quite sure about that).



In the tower flat staircase, Phyllis, the couple and baby continue down the stairs. Gina stops at the next landing and vomits again. Leslie stops to wipe his wife’s face.

Phyllis: Come on, you lovebirds. (Phyllis hands the baby over to Leslie and she begins to assist Gina down the stairs.) Save your courting, til we’ve got you safely in that ambulance. (They continue on down the stairs.)


Not a scene cut, but the music selection played over the scene for Patsy and Delia at The Gateways Club was different from the BBC version to the PBS version.



Episode 508

At Poplar Community Centre Mother’s & Babies clinic. Sister Monica Joan and Sister Evangelina are doing child development checks.

Sr. Evangelina: (to a slim boy of about 8 or 9 yrs old) My goodness, young Lenny. You’re filling out nicely. Have you got bricks in your pockets? (She writes his weight down on her clipboard and he grins and shakes his head.) Marbles? (Sr Monica Joan giggles with the hand puppet she’s got on.) Well, must be all that extra milk we’re getting into you. Now, off you hop, and Sister Monica Joan will give you a liquorice allsort.

Sr. Monica Joan: It is Sooty who is handing out liquorice allsorts today, not I. (She grins as the boy takes an allsort from the hand puppet, as another boy steps up on the scales next to Sr. Evangelina).


Dr. Turner and Shelagh are assessing Rhoda Mullucks and her daughter Susan.

Rhoda: When she’s tucked up in her pram or all wrapped up, it’s not so bad. She looks like any other baby, and people don’t stare. Or, when she’s in the house, I just have her in a nappy and a vest, and she sits there, all propped up smiling like nothing’s the matter. (Susan starts fussing in Rhoda’s arms.) And then I remember, in the middle of the night, I remember she’s got no arms, and no legs. (Sobbing) I just lie there shaking.
Dr. Turner: Are you getting much sleep, Rhoda? (She shakes her head) Because we can help with that. I can give you a mild sedative and you can take it only when you need it. It’s called Distaval.
Rhoda: If I can’t fix her, I’ve got to fix myself. (Kisses baby Susan’s head).

Barbara is at a home visit with an expectant Sylheti woman. She’s taking her blood pressure at the kitchen table.

Barbara: That’s absolutely perfect, Tripti. (Barbara greets the other woman as well, speaking Sylhetti) Kubala.
Muna: (Replies ‘Thanks’ in Sylheti).
Barbara: There’s no need to thank me, Muna. It’s all part of the job. (Picks up her pinnard stethoscope) Now, let’s get you on the bed and see if we can have a listen to baby.
(Barbara gets up and pulls the curtain as Tripti follows behind; Tripti’s husband is lying on the bed.) Oh, Mr. Valluk, I beg your pardon. Are you working shifts again? (He nods and turns over).
Tripti: I’m sorry, but he will not look.
Barbara: It’s all right. Once I delivered a baby with the father fast asleep beside his wife. But, he was drunk, and Mr. Valluk just looks tired.
Tripti: It’s not the home we left, but it is a new home. (She moves her sari out of the way so Barbara can have a listen). That is why I want the baby born here, in my bed.
Barbara: And if that is what you want, that is what you shall have. (She smacks at a bug bite on her forearm).
Tripti: Something is bite you?
Barbara: No. Not at all (chuckling)



Barbara arrives at Tom’s, nicely dressed up.

Barbara: I think I’m allergic to fleas. I never get just a little bite mark, always a great, itchy welt.
Tom: There are some houses I go to where I have to wear bicycle clips to stop the fleas going up my trouser legs.
Barbara: And yet people try so hard. (Sits down at the table.) It’s almost always the landlord’s fault. Where there are bad drains, there are rats, and where there are rats, there are fleas.
Tom: Or bed bugs. (Tom sits as well) Bed bugs can really sink their teeth in when you’re sitting with the dying.
Barbara: (Chuckles) And on that romantic note, where are we going to go this evening?
Tom: (Leaning in) I have it on good authority that the Palace Picture House was fumigated just last week.
Barbara: I don’t want to go to the cinema tonight. I want to talk to you.
Tom: I’m always agreeable to that.
Barbara: And perhaps dance a little?
Tom: I’m agreeable to that, too. Although, please note, I’m not wearing any Brylcreem, so wherever we go, the walls will be quite safe.


Sr. Mary Cynthia is called out to see the new patient, Noelle, who had just arrived from Australia.

Sr. Mary Cynthia: I don’t think anything is going to happen just yet, Noelle.
Noelle: I feel like a bit of a chump, calling you out when there was no need.
Sr. Mary Cynthia: If a quick home visit helps you to relax and look forward to your wedding, that’s all to the good. (Sr. Mary Cynthia goes round to the window to open the curtains, then goes back to sit with Noelle on the settee).

Noelle: It’s like being royalty. Mr. Hereward says that the special license came from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Grand as well as quick.
Sr. Mary Cynthia: Is that your outfit? (looking up at the light rose colour printed dress hanging up.)
Noelle: I brought the maternity dress from home. And Tessie took charge of the accessories. We tried and tried to find me a proper gown but all the dressmakers were busy and, well, I’m not going to get anything off the peg in my condition, am I?
Sr. Mary Cynthia: Perhaps not. But I love the colours, and Tessie certainly knows how to pick a hat.
Noelle: It’s…just not very bridal. It’s not like I thought it would be when I was little and used to run around with one of Mum’s lace curtains on my head on a wash day. She used to say she couldn’t wait to see me all in white.
Sr. Mary Cynthia: You’ll still look beautiful, Noelle.
Noelle: But will I feel like a bride? (sad chuckle and sighs).


At Dr. Turner’s surgery, he’s going through his patient records from the filing drawers. Shelagh is on the phone.

Shelagh: (adamant) No, I won’t call back later. I’m quite content to remain on hold, thank you. (Turns around to see her husband with a bunch of files in his hands.) Patrick, you don’t know how the filing system works. Leave it alone or come and hold the telephone instead of me. (He gives up, but goes to sit on an adjacent chair; he’s very anxious.)
Woman on phone: Hold the line, caller.
Shelagh: Very well.
(Patrick gets up and leaves the room and Shelagh turns around and looks at the clock as is now noon and she sighs. Patrick returns to the chair with his cigarette and lighter and smokes it to try to calm his state of mind).

Sisters Julienne, Mary Cynthia, Monica Joan and Winifred stand at the base of Sister Evangelina’s bed as they prepare her for her final resting place. Sr. Julienne lights a couple of candles on the ledge at the end of the bed, and they all begin a prayer.

All: And it is certain that we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away.
(As the prayer continues in the room, down in the dining room, Trixie, Barbara and Delia are adjusting Sr. Evangelina’s religious vow wedding dress so that it will fit Noelle).
Nuns: Blessed be the name of the Lord.
(As the nuns carry out the ritual cleansing for their late Sister, Barbara and the midwives make the dress alterations, Trixie adjusts the veil on Delia.)

The nuns: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Yea, saith the spirit, for they rest from their labours.
Trixie: (Knocks on the door, interrupting briefly.) The undertaker’s arrived. (Sister Julienne nods and Trixie leaves).


Very little dialogue, but in an instrumental montage, Patsy and Phyllis go around their district rounding up and collecting any bottles of Distaval (Thalidomide) pills.
Phyllis: (at Patient’s flat’s door) Mrs. Michaels.
(Switches to Patsy closing a door, and placing another bottle in her work bag, amongst many other bottles).

Back at the surgery:
Dr. Turner: Prescription patients have been passing Distaval around as if they were nuts at a party. (Shelagh shakes her head at the increased risk of patients with thalidomide babies.) I’ve knocked on Rhoda Mullucks house twice; there’s no one in and the neighbours don’t know where they’ve gone. (Shelagh hands Patrick a clipboard of papers).



Editorial Commentary
This series has been one of the most stunning ones that Heidi Thomas McGann and her team have accomplished. The writing was brilliantly done, with the first time a storyline (the thalidomide storyline) that has spanned multiple episodes of the series.

Every series, the stories, the characters bring a sense of realism and compassion that transcends any one particular generation. Families of multiple generations watch the series, both in the UK and abroad. I think that, no matter where we are on the spectrum of life, there is something about Call the Midwife that is relevant and something in which we can identify – either as nurses, patients or as anything and everything in between.

In this series, we lose one of the boldest, oft times larger than life characters in Sister Evangelina (played wonderfully for five series by Pam Ferris). Over the years, Sr. Evangelina has taught the younger nurses, encouraged them, criticized them, and loved them. She’s a character whose legacy will be missed by more than just her Sisters, and colleagues – as witnessed by the numbers of people who attended her visiting and funeral procession. She was loved by many and was touched by many; these people in Poplar, lining the streets during the final regular series episode of series 5, I felt represented the audience. Her legacy will live on by those she loved and who loved her.

Over this series we’ve also seen the growth and development of Patsy and Delia’s relationship, in the context of changes that the 1960s brought and will bring about. While the secrecy required of them poses its own risks to their livelihoods, the snippets of their lives at Nonnatus House showed that their love had only grown stronger since Delia’s return following her accident the previous series.

Phyllis. What a brick, to paraphrase Barbara. Phyllis this series has been so much of a support to the younger nurses, not only as a guide and mentor, but as a guardian of their lives. We saw a more relaxed Phyllis several times this series. She’s someone who’s not terribly quick to judge, is willing to listen, and has a knack for comforting them when they need it most. One who understands when secrets must be kept, but knowing that secrets create their own burden that affect their lives: Trixie’s alcoholism/going to AA, Barbara’s relationship with Tom, Patsy’s (unconfirmed) relationship with Delia. No good ever came from keeping secrets, did it, Nurse Mount?’ In some ways, Phyllis’s brisk nature resembles Sr. Evangelina’s, but not in the same way that it ever felt like there was a complete overlap.

Sister Monica Joan had her own compelling overall arc this series, which seemed to have kicked off in the 2015 Christmas episode; trying to figure out her own worth in a world that has been in a flux of change. Even with her periods of senility, she’s got words of wisdom, comfort to share, and love to give. It’s often in those quiet moments that we understand our worth both to ourselves and its affect on others. The strongest relationship she’s had this series has been with Sr. Evangelina; the sadness and confusion as Sr. Evangelina prepared to leave in 503 for the secluded silent nun’s order, to her joy at her return in 507, and utter loss and grief in this episode.

The Turners as a family have grown, learning to listen to each other more and take comfort in each other even when times get tough.

Trixie had a lot of personal growth this series in questioning where her life is heading now that she’s sober, and single. Her friendship with Patsy has changed, subtly – whether that’s partially down to the sharing of alcohol before, Delia’s presence at Nonnatus taking more of Patsy’s ‘free’ time, or some combination of both. Both of her cohorts – Barbara and Patsy are in relationships (the latter of which is secret, but Trixie’s no fool), and she’s feeling alone despite being in a houseful of nuns and midwives.

Sister Mary Cynthia has had some wonderful moments this series which have built upon her character, from the learning about her younger brother who died, how she interacted with the Mullucks initially, to her attack, her anger, despair, and then self-confidence following that incident. As she said, she may be afraid of many things, but speaking up when others won’t or can’t, that’s not something she’s afraid of.

Sister Winifred we really haven’t been given a lot of insight about this series, aside from the sole storyline of her dealing with the teacher who was pregnant and self-aborted her baby. There’s so much we still don’t know about her other than surface comments.

Sister Julienne, the guardian, protector, supporter, friend, boss. This series I feel she’s played much more of the support character, championing the others, whilst also taking on new and different responsibilities like her stint at St. Cuthbert’s Hospital. Her interactions both earlier in the series and in the finale with Ruby Cottingham over the death of her baby was beautiful and emotionally heartfelt.

We have a long several months wait until the Christmas episode (509), which will no doubt bring it’s own heartbreaks and joys. See you then! In the meantime, I leave you with some wonderful, though sad scenes about Sister Evangelina. We’ll miss you. Wonderful job, Pam Ferris!


Comments welcome.

Posted in Entertainment, Television | Tagged , | 4 Comments