Call the Midwife: Jenny Agutter discusses Nonnatus's house
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Shelagh Turner (played by Laura Main) and Dr Patrick Turner (Stephen McGann) were devastated when the doctor’s son Timothy (Max Macmillan) was diagnosed with polio. The schoolboy recovered from the virus and Call the Midwife viewers watched as he slowly regained independent use of his legs. In a recent interview, BBC show creator Heidi Thomas teased a possible return to the polio storyline which could spell heartbreak for Shelagh and her husband.
In the 2013 Christmas Special, Shelagh was preparing to marry the Poplar doctor when Timothy was diagnosed with polio.
The youngster was imprisoned in an iron lung but subsequently recovered from the horrific illness.
Timothy was forced to wear leg braces but in later seasons made a complete recovery.
He was last mentioned in season nine when the teenager called his parents from his boarding school.
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Speaking to the press including Express.co.uk, Heidi explained why the series has moved away from focussing on certain storylines.
She said: “We’ve done a lot about vaccination in the past, and now for example we don’t tell stories about polio anymore, because people have been vaccinated against it.”
However, the writer pointed out there would be scope to revise the storyline in the future.
“We might tell a story in the future, about a young woman who is disabled by polio,” Heidi shared.
“A woman who is now having a baby, and what does that mean for her as someone who has limited movement of her lower limbs.
“What it means for her who has to face up to society’s prejudice, so that’s a different aspect of the polio story.
“The world just seems to get richer as we go further along and I do think we are now seeing women attain agency over their own bodies.”
Throughout Call the Midwife’s 10 years on BBC One, many patient storylines have been mirrored with difficulties the nuns and midwives are facing.
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If Nonnatus treats a pregnant polio sufferer, this could signal a revisit of Timothy’s condition.
Could the teenager’s diagnosis lead to Shelagh and Dr Turner being torn apart as they struggle to cope with their son’s pain?
After recovering from polio, some people may develop “post-polio syndrome”.
The NHS website explains symptoms can return or get worse many years after the original polio infection.
These symptoms can include persistent fatigue, muscle weakness, shrinking muscles, muscle and joint pain and sleep apnoea.
In a previous interview, Call the Midwife creator Heidi explained why it was so important for the drama to focus on vaccination programmes.
“The show reminds us what things used to be like,” she remarked.
“There will always be something new for example but polio and TB are sort of on the run. I have to look for new stories as we can’t do stories really about polio anymore.”
“By 1967, it had been eradicated. So I am looking forward to the way in which medicine changes and we just aren’t running out of material yet I think,” she told Mirror.co.uk.
Call the Midwife returns to BBC One on Sunday at 8pm.
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