New Call the Midwife star Leonie Elliott: ‘I was welcomed with open arms so it made my job a lot easier’
Nonnatus House’s newest recruit Leonie Elliott on her joy at starring in Call the Midwife
Caribbean midwife Lucille Anderson has had a tough introduction to life in Poplar in Call the Midwife but for Leonie Elliott, who plays her, things couldn’t be more different and she’s thrilled to be part of the close-knit cast.
Here, Call the Midwife star Leonie Elliott reveals all about what’s in store for Lucille…
TV Times: Lucille faces challenges this week, doesn’t she?
Leonie Elliott: “Yes, when she delivers a baby, the grandmother doesn’t want a ‘foreign’ midwife to look after her daughter. Then, when complications set in, she believes it’s because Lucille delivered the baby, which is ridiculous. My parents and grandparents are Jamaican so I drew upon their experiences. It’s not nice, but we’ve come a long way since the 60s. Through my storyline I’ve got to know more about my family’s history and what they went through.”
TVT: How does Lucille react?
LE: “She's dedicated to her work and that’s the most important thing for her, doing a good job. Lucille is resilient and her aim is to assimilate as much as she can with the British culture. She willingly moved here so she wants to make a good impression and fit in and she does.”
TVT: Your own aunt was a nurse who came over to Britain from the Caribbean in the 60s; did that help you play Lucille?
LE: “Yes, she came over here to study and has a similar story and was really happy to tell me her experiences. It was lovely to hear that and I wanted to do her justice. But I have always got to remember that this is Lucille’s story. I was lucky that a lot of her backstory was given to me when I auditioned. You always have to do further research too. But it was great that I didn’t get to do much of the technical, medical side of things at first!”
TVT: How did you perfect Lucille’s accent?
LE: “Because my family is from a Jamaican parish that’s next door to where Lucille is from, it wasn't an accent that was alien to me. That is how a lot of my family speak. It’s just about incorporating her middle class upbringing and honing her voice as you would any other when you are starting a job.”
TVT: Was it daunting to join such a popular show?
LE: “I suppose you feel quite nervous but once you get your first day out of the way, it gets better. You just do the work and feel prepared for the day. What is great is that I felt like I was welcomed with open arms, so it made my job a lot easier. We all have different schedules so if I’m shooting one day with Helen [George, who plays Trixie], she’ll help me, or Jennifer and Judy [Parfitt, who plays Sister Monica Joan] will. Everyone is so lovely and it has been wonderful.”
Here's a trailer for the new series of Call the Midwife
Call the Midwife continues on Sunday.
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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.
By Grace Morris