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Call the midwife 'Doctor': University honours TV queen Heidi Thomas

'I actually wanted to be a nurse but wasn’t given any encouragement'

Published on December 9th 2013.

Call the midwife 'Doctor': University honours TV queen Heidi Thomas

REAL-LIFE midwives in Ormskirk celebrated their graduation on Saturday by meeting the woman whose work has sent applications to study the profession soaring across the UK. 

Garston-born Heidi Thomas, who wrote the smash hit worldwide TV drama Call the Midwife, met the trainees when she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for Literature at Edge Hill University. There were 21, all of whom graduated with first class honours degrees. 

She said: “I have so much admiration for them, it’s a vocation to be celebrated. 

“I grew up in Liverpool, which has excellent hospitals and provides first-class care to its patients. I also had a brother who was very ill as a child and who was in and out of hospital a lot, so I was constantly surrounded by nurses. I felt so humble being around them because they do such an amazing job. 

“In fact, I actually wanted to be a nurse but wasn’t given any encouragement, which is why I turned to writing because I loved to read and write as a child. But health has always been a big passion of mine and if something fires you in that way, you have to follow it, which is why a lot of my work focuses on these themes.” 

'Role model'

Edge Hill says it decided to award the doctorate because “Heidi’s writing reflects on matters of public and social discussion and her television work regularly achieves record-breaking audiences”. 

Professor Roger Shannon, who nominated her, added: “Honorary doctorates at Edge Hill University are an important way in which we can acknowledge the best of achievements. Heidi has demonstrated this in so many ways, achieving at the highest level in the world of writing. Her accomplishments demonstrate what an excellent role model she is for this university and for its students, hence why we are delighted to mark her many successes with this award.”  

Ms Thomas, who also wrote the remake of Upstairs-Downstairs and Cranford, added: “When I was given Call the Midwife to read I loved it. Coming from Liverpool and with strong working-class roots it was a world that I could relate to and I knew I could do something with it.

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"The popularity of the TV series really took me by surprise, I knew we had a great cast and story to tell but the way in which people have warmed to the series has been stupendous – it has been the loveliest reaction I’ve ever had to my work.

"In fact, applications to study midwifery have gone right up as a result of the show, which is something I’m proud of because I’m able to show what a wonderful profession it is.” 

After meeting the screenwriter, newly qualified midwife Lauren Shaw said: “It was such a privilege to have her here as she has helped us to see how midwifery was many years ago and how the profession has changed so much.”

*Heidi Thomas is pictured, top, with the first-class 21 graduates and jubilant husband Steve McGann, another Liverpool born, who plays Dr Patrick Turner in the drama. A Call The Midwife special will be shown on Christmas Day.

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