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Call the Midwife viewers in tears as they praise famous guest star over 'heartbreaking' story in series 13 debut

Comedian Rosie Jones played pregnant woman, Doreen Challis

Call the Midwife s13,07-01-2024,1,Ada Challis (JENNIFER HENNESSY), Doreen Challis (ROSIE LUISA-JONES), Anne Challis (GEORGIA ALEXANDRA) and Nancy Corrigan (MEGAN CUSAK)
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
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Call the Midwife viewers were left in tears over a heartbreaking story in the series 13 premiere of the BBC period drama, which saw guest star Rosie Jones portray Doreen Challis, a pregnant woman with cerebral palsy. The opening episode saw Doreen conceal her pregnancy from her family in fear of how her mother would react.

During the episode [spoiler alert!], it was revealed that Sister Julienne had delivered Doreen years earlier in a tough birth that led to a broken clavicle. At 14 months, Doreen was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

WATCH: Call the Midwife viewers in tears over Rosie Jones' storyline

While Sister Julienne was shocked that she couldn't remember the difficult delivery and felt guilty over the birth, Shelagh Turner reassured her colleague that "no one can know what causes a condition like Doreen's". 

Call the Midwife s13,07-01-2024,1,Doreen Challis (ROSIE LUISA-JONES),© Neal Street Productions/Andrea Southam
Rosie Jones played Doree Challis in the series 13 premiere

Viewers were left in tears over the heartbreaking story, which explored how disabled pregnant women were treated in the late 1960s, and took to social media to praise comedian Rosie, who herself has cerebral palsy. 

Call the Midwife s13,07-01-2024,1,Ada Challis (JENNIFER HENNESSY), Doreen Challis (ROSIE LUISA-JONES) and Anne Challis (GEORGIA ALEXANDRA),© Neal Street Productions/Olly Courtney
Viewers praised the tear-jerking story

One person penned: "I would like to thank @CallTheMidwife1 for showing a storyline of a person with #cerebralpalsy with such empathy and sensitivity. Give @josierones a #BAFTA now! The cast, Jenny Agutter was wonderful tonight! I find it hard to stem the tears," while another added: "Oh my word, @josierones has got me in tears. Such a fab performance in #CallTheMidwife."

A third fan penned: "Wonderful work by Rosie Jones on #CallTheMidwife, absolutely thought-provoking and beautifully done. I'm in tears - and crossed my legs very tightly during that birth scene!"

Other viewers praised the moving storyline, with one person penning: "Been watching #CallTheMidwife since the very beginning never missed an episode at it never fails to shock me how people were treated back then .. tonight the brilliant Rosie Jones portrays another heartbreaking story."

Call the Midwife s13,07-01-2024,1,Shelagh Turner (LAURA MAIN) and Sister Julienne (JENNY AGUTTER)© Neal Street Productions/Andrea Southam
Laura Main and Jenny Agutter as Sister Julienne and Shelagh Turner

Jenny Agutter, who plays Sister Julienne, praised Rosie's performance and hailed her as a "delightful person" to have on set. "She is stunning to be around because she's a delightful person," she told HELLO! and other journalists ahead of series 13. "Full of humour, full of vitality, watching absolutely everything that's going on around her, taking it all in and giving so much back to you. It was an absolute joy to have her on set."

Detailing how Rosie landed the part, Stephen McGann, who plays Dr Turner said: "The script was sent to [Rosie] early on so it wasn't written around her but they certainly hoped that she would consider it. 

"Like we've always done with such delicate themes, you talk to real people and say, 'Are we right, here? Are we wrong?' They sent it to the brilliant Rosie and she apparently said to Heidi [Thomas], 'I love this, this is great. This is just what I want to do'."