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Shelagh Turner — our guide to the 'Call the Midwife' character

Shelagh Turner in Call the Midwife.
Shelagh Turner in Call the Midwife. (Image credit: BBC)

Shelagh Turner is a recurring character in Call the Midwife, appearing in seasons 1 — 9. 

She is a registered nurse and midwife and former nun, once going by the name of Sister Bernadette. Shelagh is a very gentle and kind nurse, and is incredibly dedicated to her job. 

If you need a recap of who Shelagh is ahead of Call the Midwife 2021, we have got everything you need to know about the midwife right here.

Who plays Shelagh Turner? 

Shelagh Turner is played by Scottish actress Laura Main. In an interview with the Sunday Post, Laura reflected on her time spent playing the role. She said: "If she was a real person, I think I’d like her in real life. 

"I can see little bits of her which are like me — she’s quite precise, careful and thoughtful — but I think she’s calmer than me. Although she copes way better than I ever would with her incredibly busy life, working and bringing up a family."

Shelagh Turner's personality

When Shelagh was first introduced to the show as Sister Bernadette in season one, she was shy and reserved. We don't see a lot of development from her initially, although it's clear she wants to stop being a nun after she's seen looking in a mirror, removing her veil and letting her hair down. Since renouncing her vows she becomes more confident around other people, very efficient and calm under pressure, making her a real asset to the team around her.

In her Sunday Post interview, Laura Main added: “Being a midwife and nurse is all about thinking of others; I’ve learnt a lot about that from playing the role. When you play a character, it does rub off on you, and it’s made me aware of being thoughtful and aware of other people’s needs.”

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Shelagh's relationship with Patrick Turner

Shelagh Turner goes on to marry Dr Patrick Turner, after developing feelings for him in Call the Midwife Season 2. The couple struggle to conceive throughout the series after Shelagh is told she cannot have children due to damage caused to her fallopian tubes as a result of tuberculosis. Following this devastating news, Shelagh and Patrick try to adopt but their plans are thwarted after a background check reveals Patrick spent time in a military mental institution after serving in the Second World War.

However, they're later approved to adopt a baby girl who they name Angela. In season six, Shelagh is shocked to learn that she's pregnant, and despite some complications she gives birth to a baby boy who the couple name Edward Patrick Turner.

Talking about filming the labour scenes, Laura told us: "“There was so much build-up to it on set, it was like something was about to happen for real! I was excited but apprehensive about doing it in front of people I’ve been working with for six years and those scenes take a long time to film and get right. 

"I talked with our adviser through all the different phases of birth because you see more of it with Shelagh than with other births we do and everybody on set was so supportive and shared their own stories."

Shelagh's role as a stepmother

Shelagh Turner is stepmother to Dr Patrick Turner's son Timothy, who he had with his late wife Marianne. Patrick approves of his father's new relationship and in a heartwarming scene when Patrick decides to propose, he writes a note saying "Please will you marry my dad?" wrapped around the ring box. 

Timothy contracts polio during the 2013 Christmas special episode, and Shelagh becomes fiercely protective over him as a result of this. The Turners have a very close bond, as Timothy is very welcoming to adoptive sister Angela too.