She plays blonde bombshell Trixie in Call The Midwife. So what has the hit programme taught Helen George about babies and motherhood?
It is, I soon realised on speaking to her, almost impossible not to warm to Miss George. Just like her on-screen character Trixie, she is bubbly, beautiful and comfortingly down to earth.
‘Sometimes I feel as though Trixie is just a more extreme version of me,’ she says. ‘I suppose we have similar traits – I love clothes and spending time with my girlfriends. I love a good gossip and I enjoy working. I admire her tenacity, and her unfaltering con dence.’
But just how do you prepare for playing the role of a midwife? ‘We have a wonderful midwife on set at all times (Terri Coates) who really keeps an eye on all of the medical and historical details,’ explains Helen. ‘And I’m very proud to say that I can now make a bed properly, with folded corners, like my grandma used to.’
Helen married fellow actor Oliver Boot in 2011 – after she filmed the first series of Call The Midwife. They met in 2008 while playing a bickering couple in Hotel Babylon. But has playing a midwife and spending so much time with babies made her broody? ‘It’s made me more prepared for giving birth and caring for children,’ she says. ‘I didn’t even know how to hold a baby before I started this job.’
Helen and one of her charges on the set of Call The MidwifeHelen and one of her charges on the set of Call The Midwife
She certainly knows now and the tiny babies who star in the show still manage to charm the cast and crew. ‘A wonderful hush comes over us all when they come on set. It’s magical,’ she says.
But has the show changed her attitude to childbirth at all? ‘I definitely would like as many drugs during delivery as possible,’ she confesses.
Days on set are long and often cold, as they lm in a disused seminary without heating. In fact, she likes to unwind – and warm up – with ‘a hot bath and a glass of red’ afterwards. And things don’t always run, well, smoothly. ‘Sorry to be crass, but generally there is always baby poo,’ she laughs. ‘But you just have to carry on with the shot if it happens while we’re lming. I normally end up with it smeared across my face.
‘You cannot be squeamish. I often nd myself queueing up at lunch, covered in fake blood, for my shepherd’s pie.’
And it is not just Miranda Hart (as the much-loved Chummy) who has issues with the bike-riding part of the role. ‘I’ve infamously become known as the clumsy cyclist,’ says Helen. ‘I can fall off when I’m stationary. I normally have bike oil smeared up my stockings – I’m always getting into trouble with the costume department.’
Helen George Call The Midwife
Baby poo and oil-smeared stockings aside, the era in which the programme is set is undoubtedly a delight for 1950s fashion fans – Helen included.
‘I love the idea that 1950s clothes make you sit up properly and hold you in, in all the right places. Sometimes I’m sewn into my costumes so that we get the right line, but apparently Marilyn Monroe was always sewn into her dresses, so I don’t feel so bad!’
Marilyn, Trixie, Helen… it seems blondes really do have more fun.
Call The Midwife is broadcast on Sunday evenings at 8pm on BBC One.