Fred Buckle — our guide to the Call the Midwife character

Fred Buckle in Call the Midwife wearing a flat cap and a check shirt
Fred Buckle is a firm Call the Midwife favourite. (Image credit: BBC)

Frederick "Fred" Buckle is one of the key characters in Call the Midwife and has appeared in almost every episode of the BBC hit drama to date. 

Hailing from the East End of London, Fred is the caretaker of Nonnatus House and its his job to maintain the building and carry out any odd jobs on site. 

Fred is dealt a blow at the start of season 12 when he receives a letter about the disbandment of the civil defence corps. Having been in a uniform helping people since 1939 he is at a loss. However, after witnessing an incident where a girl is knocked over by car, Fred decides to become a lollipop man and ensure the safety of locals.

The character spends a lot of time surrounded by women due to the number of nuns and midwives who work at Nonnatus House.

When actor Cliff Parisi was asked by PBS about working on a female-centric show, he replied: "I haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about half the time. It’s a woman’s world on set and I don’t have anyone to talk to about football – I’m at the mercy of the nuns and nurses! Occasionally all the men are in together and we have a lad’s day but we’re like a family now so it’s all great fun."

Here's everything you need to know about Fred Buckle...

Who plays Fred Buckle?

Fred is played by actor Cliff Parisi, who is best known for his eight year role as loveable mechanic Minty Peterson in BBC soap EastEnders

Cliff's career began 40 years ago when he started touring the UK as a stand-up comedian. His first acting gig was in the 1989 film Queen of Hearts. He's also had parts in TV series such as The Bill, Chancer, Kavanagh QC and A Prince Among Men.

In 2019, he took part in the 19th series of ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! and was the third contestant to be voted out of the jungle. 

In an interview with Good Morning Britain, Cliff reflected on his career and how he's spent quite a lot of time playing one role. He said: "They're lovely jobs, aren't they? When you're working with nice people and you're getting good scripts, why leave?"

Fred and Reggie standing outside the shop in Call the Midwife season 12 episode 4

Fred and Reggie have become close over the years.  (Image credit: BBC)

Fred Buckle's personality

Fred is the kind of character who's always keeping busy and getting involved with projects. In the evenings he volunteers as a scout leader and was a deputy party leader for the Civil Defence Corps, having once served in the British Army. 

His time in the army was a difficult one as his first wife Betty died during the war, leaving him grief-stricken. 

He is generally a kind and warm-hearted character, though he struggles to be accepting of homosexuality when Tony Amos, a member of the Defence Corps, is revealed to be gay. However, he does seem to have some sympathy for Tony, despite following the opinions of the time that gay men and women were "criminals". 

In addition to this, Fred had a traumatic childhood and spent it without shoes, as his father was more interested in the pub than in providing for his family. As a result of this, Fred vowed to always provide for his own family should he have one. 

Fred Buckle's relationships

Fred was a widower for 20 years, but in Call the Midwife we see him meet and fall in love with Violet Gee, a shopkeeper who is also widowed. He proposes to her and she accepts, but Fred's daughter Marlene isn't happy about the news and tries to intervene. 

After causing Violet to believe Fred is marrying her for financial security, and not love, the engagement is briefly called off. However, Marlene comes to her senses, so visits Violet to explain the situation, and emotionally declares that "my mum would tan my hide" if she let her father be unhappy.

Violet and Fred end up getting married, but complications arise in season 6 after Fred's cousin passes away, leaving her adult son Reggie Jackson alone. Reggie has Down Syndrome and finds it difficult to function on his own, so Fred takes him under his wing. 

Fred and Violet both grow close to Reggie, until eventually making the difficult decision that it would be easier for him to be around people his own age in a group home. Despite moving away, Reggie still visits Fred and Violet.

Cliff Parisi as Fred Buckle in Call the Midwife

Cliff Parisi as Fred Buckle in Call the Midwife.  (Image credit: (C) Nealstreet Productions)

Fred's relationships with his daughters

Fred has two daughters; Marlene and Dolly. As mentioned above, his relationship with Marlene was temporarily strained after revealing his engagement with Violet.

Dolly visits Fred while heavily pregnant, and it is revealed she has pre-eclampsia, causing her to be admitted into the maternity home.

While Dolly is in the home, Fred looks after Dolly's toddler until she gives birth. She eventually welcomes a baby girl, Fred's second grandchild. 

Whilst Dolly and Fred's relationship isn't explored in a huge amount of depth, it's clear he really cares for both of his daughters.