Anita Dobson: Making Christmas Call the Midwife brought back happy childhood East End memories

CTM Xmas Anita
(Image credit: BBC/Neal Street Productions/Soph)

Former EastEnders actress Anita Dobson reveals her joy at guest starring in the Call the Midwife Christmas special

It’s over 30 years since Anita Dobson was at the heart of one of the most memorable Christmas TV moments ever when her iconic EastEnders character Angie Watts was served divorce papers by dastardly husband Dirty Den. Now, the actress is central to the Call the Midwife festive special as downtrodden Mabel Tillerson.

Here, Anita Dobson tells TV Times about her role in the Call the Midwife Christmas special…

TV Times: What can you tell us about Mabel?

Anita Dobson “Mabel is a sad character, who’s had a harsh life. When her husband is found dead in the cold, Sister Julienne goes to her flat and realises that Mabel is quite frail and can’t get about much. The story of Mabel’s family and the relationship she had with her husband starts to unravel but Sister Julienne becomes responsible for getting her back out in the world. I did think I looked like my nan as Mabel though!”

TVT What was it like working with Jenny Agutter?

AD “We got on with like a house on fire, she’s divine. I adored her on sight and she is such a good actress. We sat together at the read-through and I was a bit nervous but she was so much fun and doing the job was made even happier because of her. She made it a breeze.”

Were you a fan of Call the Midwife before?

AD “Oh yes, so doing the show was like a Christmas present because the cast are one big happy family and that’s magical. The characters are so beautifully drawn and it makes you cry and makes you laugh. The episode also brought back happy memories of the community spirit when I was a child in the East End.”

 TVT Do people still recognise you from EastEnders?

AD “Yes, I can’t believe that people still come up to me about it. You know they’re waiting to say, “Hello Ange”, and I say, “Go on then!” I don’t mind at all because I feel she is alive and well and living in me. They really loved her so I feel a great sense of pride.”

Call the Midwife airs on Christmas Day at 19.40pm on BBC1

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.