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Library - Highlights

Posted on: August 24, 2020

Explore Life in Postwar Britain in These TV Dramas

The Bletchley Circle DVD Cover

Last week’s article was about television dramas set during World War II in Great Britain.  This week, we travel in time as the English rebuild their society.  Two of the shows that reflect life in the aftermath of war are Bletchley Circle and Grantchester.  Both can be found at your Abilene Public Library on DVD and Grantchester is also on Hoopla and in book format.  Set in 1952, Bletchley Circle tells of four women who have returned to normal lives after working on Bletchley Park - the site where the Germans’ infamous "enigma cypher" was broken by British mathematicians and code breakers during World War II.  One of them, Susan, notices a pattern to the murders of several women - which is in the news - but no one else seems to have noticed the pattern.  She speaks with the police about it but is not very successful, so she enlists the help of her former friends and fellow cryptographers to investigate the cases.

Grantchester DVD CoverIn Grantchester, Anglican vicar Sidney Chambers turns out to have quite the natural sleuthing ability in his cozy Cambridgeshire village when one of his parishioners dies under suspicious circumstances in this drama set in 1953.  He partners up with gruff, down-to-earth police inspector Geordie Keating, whose methodical approach to police work complements Disney’s intuitive techniques of getting information out of people.  The two partners - who bring different insights into the crimes they start to unravel - form a true friendship as they work together.

The longest running of the shows that reflects how England rebuilt after the war highlights their medical system in Call the Midwife.  This show is loosely based upon the three autobiographical works by Jennifer Worth about the nuns and lay midwives of Nonnatus House circa 1957.  It is currently in its ninth season and can be seen on DVD and Hoopla and read in book format.

Call the Midwife DVD CoverCall the Midwife shows life amongst the poorest in one of the richest nations of the world.  Charity hospitals were the only medical care available to most poor Londoners and immigrants prior to the National Health Systems which started in 1948.  Anglican nuns had ministered in the area for over one hundred years by the time the series began.  Call the Midwife demonstrates how people were introduced to the system and the midwives dispensed education and healthcare.

One such story that left a lasting impression was where an English dock worker found a young girl in Spain 20 years earlier and became very protective of her because she had no family.  He brought her back to England, eventually marrying her and producing 23 children with her, all of which were living.  She could not speak English and he could not speak Spanish.  Their children translate for them when necessary.  The mother falls and their 24th child was born too early.  The midwives are for certain that the baby will be too small to be viable, but the mother is determined not to lose a baby and so for months she instinctively maintains it by what is now termed kangaroo care.

Each of these shows is well done, with moments of sadness and others of laughter.  Whether you are into binge watching or one episode at a time, you an escape to another at a time, you can escape to another time with any of them, with the help of your Abilene Public Library.

Article Contributed by Janet Bailey, Technical Services Manager, Main Library

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