Helen George — things you didn't know about the Call the Midwife star
Helen George has starred in Call the Midwife from the start, but what else is there to know about her?
Helen George has become a household name for her role in BBC drama Call the Midwife. As one of the original cast members in the popular primetime show, Helen’s portrayal of Nurse Beatrix "Trixie" Franklin has earnt her a dedicated following of fans over the past decade.
Having trained in musical theatre, Birmingham-born Helen’s career started out on the stage, before she landed her first job on television. Her big break came in 2011 when she successfully auditioned for the part of glamourous midwife Trixie. Helen describes her character as being: “The fun-loving, party-going midwife who’s always up for a drink and a good dance.”
But there's more to Helen George than delivering babies on screen. Here are eight things you might not have known about the actress...
1. Helen George dreamt of becoming a football manager
Helen Elizabeth George was born in Harborne, Birmingham on 19th June 1984. Her mum Margaret is a social worker, and her dad Neil works as a political science professor. She has one sister, Elizabeth, who is a vet.
Growing up in Winchester, Hampshire, Helen’s dad was a huge Aston Villa supporter and Helen had aspirations to become the first ever female manager of the football club.
But at 15, a desire to work on the stage took over after she took part in a production of Les Misérables. With her heart set on performing, Helen honed her craft first at the Birmingham School of Acting, then studied musical theatre at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
2. She has sung backing vocals for Sir Elton John
Call the Midwife has made Helen a household name, but what some fans might not know is she’s also a highly talented singer. In fact, straight after finishing at the Royal Academy of Music she was chosen by Sir Elton John to be a backing singer on his tour.
“We played Wembley and the Royal Albert Hall,” revealed Helen in an interview with You. “It was absolute madness, but because I was so young and arrogant I was like, 'Oh yeah, just going on tour with Elton.' I didn’t realise the status of what I was doing.”
In May 2020, Helen sang The White Cliffs of Dover in a BBC broadcast marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
She also had a crack at opera for Red Nose Day 2022, along with fellow celebs Tamzin Outhwaite, Scarlett Moffatt, Rosie Jones and Nina Wadia. The all-female-line-up performed three arias from the world-famous Carmen.
3. She strutted her stuff on Strictly Come Dancing
Back in 2015, Helen stepped out of her comfort zone and onto the dancefloor to take part in the 13th series of Strictly Come Dancing. Partnered with pro dancer Aljaž Skorjanec.
Helen threw herself into the competition and the pair wowed the judges with their Viennese Waltz.
Despite making it all the way to the quarter finals and finishing in sixth place, Helen admitted it was nerve-wracking performing to an audience of millions. She told Event magazine: "My problem on Strictly was that I found it very difficult to be myself. I’m actually a very shy person and if I feel nervous my default is to be very quiet.”
4. She’s performed a variety of roles
Helen is best known for playing nurse Trixie Franklin in Call the Midwife, but the actress has also starred in Hotel Babylon, The Three Musketeers, Scar Tissue, Doctors, Hollyoaks and The Extraordinary Adventures of G. A. Henty.
Her theatre credits include the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, Into the Woods, and High School Musical.
In 2019, Helen swapped her nurse’s uniform for a racy corset to play the title role in Theatre Royal Bath’s touring production of Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel. “Playing fiery, strong-minded women is exciting for me,” revealed Helen in a chat with The Guardian.
She was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album for her contribution to the cast recording of Cinderella.
5. She found love with her co-star, twice!
Back in 2008, Helen began dating fellow actor Oliver Boot after the pair met on the set of Hotel Babylon. The couple got hitched, but the marriage was short-lived and they split in 2015.
The following year, Helen found love with her Call the Midwife co-star Jack Aston (who played the Reverend Tom Hereward) while they were on location in South Africa to film a Christmas special for the show. “We are like-minded people who understand the industry, the career and the long hours,” Helen explained to You.
Helen and Jack are now proud parents to two little girls — Wren Ivy, who was born in September 2017, and Lark, who arrived in November 2021.
Revealing the choice behind her firstborn’s unusual name on ITV’s This Morning, Helen said: “She was an autumnal baby, and she’s got this lovely red hair. She just looked like a little bird. It was between Robyn and Wren, and we went for Wren.”
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6. She’s had a supernatural encounter
Helen had a spooky experience during filming for Call the Midwife’s 2019 Christmas special, when she encountered a ghost! The festive episode was filmed in a castle in the Outer Hebrides, which is said to be haunted by the former lady of the house.
“We had these grand dinners every night, and the waiting staff always left an empty chair for her ladyship at the end of the table,” Helen revealed in an interview with The Guardian. “Through a trick of the light, or the wine, you’d sometimes feel someone sitting there. I didn’t sleep at all when we were staying there.”
The actress also loves having her tarot cards, saying: “It’s a lovely half hour of therapy and an awful lot of predictions have come true!”
7. She takes her dog into work
Helen rescued her dog Charlie after finding him living stray on the streets of Kensal Rise in London, when he was just six months old.
She told the Daily Mail: “He was so filthy and forlorn that we thought he was really old, but once we took him home and gave him a bath he started bounding around with joy and we discovered he was a six-month-old puppy.”
One of Helen’s biggest delights is that she’s able to take Charlie to work with her when she’s filming Call the Midwife, and walk him in the fields around Chatham in Kent.
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8. She’s passionate about her job
Back in 2011, Helen was working as a waitress when she got the call to say she’d been cast to play Trixie Franklin in 1950’s drama Call the Midwife. Originally told the show was going to run for six episodes, it’s still going strong 11 series on, and will be on our screens until at least 2024.
Proud feminist Helen adores being part of a female-led primetime show, which broke boundaries with its mix of younger and older actresses.
She told The Guardian: “Since the #MeToo movement, there’s been a real influx of female creatives and female-led casts, but it was much more unusual in 2012, when we (Call the Midwife) first aired. The likes of Fleabag have come through in the past few years, but we were a step ahead in some ways.”
Helen George's fact file
Frequently asked questions about the actress...
How old is Helen George?
Helen George's age is 38, she was born on 19th June 1984.
Is Helen George married?
Helen George has been in a relationship with her former Call the Midwife co-star Jack Ashton since 2016.
Does Helen George have any children?
Helen George and partner Jack Ashton have two daughters – Wren, three, and one-year-old Lark.
Where was Helen George born?
Helen George was born in Birmingham.
How tall is Helen George?
Helen George is five foot five.
We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.
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Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia.
After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off.
She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz!
As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.