(L-R: Trixie, Cynthia, Jenny and, of course, Chummy)
Whew! Chummy didn't die! What a relief! Of course, if she had died, the producers would have been confronted by millions of angry fans making like peasants with pitchforks.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you haven't seen "Call The Midwife," the period drama from England that ended its second season on PBS last week.
It's about a group of young nurse/midwives and the Anglican nuns of Nonnatus House, a nursing convent in London's impoverished East End, during the early 1950s, right after universal health insurance was established. The nurses are initially appalled by the horrible conditions their patients have to live in, but they come to admire them for their perseverance and dignity.
After two seasons, the characters have become like old friends to us fans. There's the deeply spiritual but also extremely practical Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter); the blunt, earthy Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris); the dotty Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt), who might be losing it but might be doing it on purpose just to aggravate Sister Evangelina; and the sweet, earnest Sister Bernadette (Laura Main), the only nun who is the same age as the lay midwives.
The midwives include the pretty, idealistic Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine, with voice-over narration by Vanessa Redgrave playing Jenny as an old woman); the flirty, optimistic Trixie (Helen George) and the shy, sensitive Cynthia (Bryony Hannah).
But the breakout star of the series is nurse/midwife Camilla Fortescue Cholmeley-Browne (played by the marvelous Miranda Hart), known as "Chummy" to her friends.
Belittled by her aristocratic family, Chummy is crippled by shyness and lack of self-confidence. Her great height and physical clumsiness are part of the problem, but one suspects (that’s the way Chummy talks) a loveless childhood spent in boarding schools hurt, too.
But she is eternally good-humored and exceptionally kind, and she soon finds her true family in the nurses and nuns at Nonnatus House.
She also finds true love in the person of an ordinary working-class street cop whom she marries to the horror of her aristocratic family and the delight of her new friends. And, for the first time in her life, she thrives.
It's hard to express how much the fans of this show adore Chummy. She's the classic ugly duckling who blossoms into a swan, and it's a moving thing to watch.
So when word filtered out that Chummy's own pregnancy was going to have a life-threatening complication – the same thing that killed Lady Sybil in "Downton Abbey" – we all went into a panic. Life without Chummy was too horrible a prospect to contemplate.
But we needn't have worried. The producers were too smart for that. Not only did they let her live, they threw in a resolution to the Sister Bernadette/Dr. Turner will-they-won't-they relationship that was the most romantic scene I have ever seen.
The series is based on the true-life memoirs of Jennifer Worth, after whom the character of Jenny Lee is modeled. Worth died on May 31, 2011, almost exactly two years ago. But the stories and characters she gave us will live forever.
Season three is already in production and will air on PBS in early 2014. In the meantime, do yourself a big favor and rent seasons one and two from Netflix. You'll thank me for it.