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Why Saltburn director Emerald Fennell left Call the Midwife and would she ever return?

The Oscar winner played Nurse Patsy in the BBC drama


Emerald Fennell in Call the Midwife© BBC
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
January 21, 2024
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Emerald Fennell has firmly established herself as one of Hollywood's most exciting filmmakers, with her latest film, Saltburn, quickly becoming one of the most talked-about films of awards season. The Oscar-winning filmmaker is known for her writing and directing work, particularly her critically-acclaimed 2020 thriller, Promising Young Woman, as well as for her roles in The Crown, and Barbie

While Emerald is now a household name across the world, she first rose to fame playing Nurse Patsy in the BBC's beloved drama, Call The Midwife. The 38-year-old starred in the show for four years until stepping down from the role. But why did she leave and will she ever return? Keep reading for all we know…

WATCH: The trailer for Emerald Fennell's new film, Saltburn

Emerald made her Call the Midwife debut way back in 2013 during the show's second season. She quickly became a fan favourite in her role as Nurse Patsy and left viewers heartbroken when she departed the drama. 

In 2017, Emerald took to Twitter, now X, to share her appreciation for the show for allowing her to focus on her other projects. "Very sad I'm not filming wonderful CTM, had writing to do and they were so lovely and gave me the time to do it because they are the best," she penned. 

Emerald Fennell in Call the Midwife© BBC
Emerald Fennell in Call the Midwife

The news of Emerald's departure from the show was confirmed the following year in 2018, when Bryony Hannah and Kate Lamb also left the programme. 

A spokesperson for the drama said at the time: "We are always sad when actors want to move on to pastures new, as it's a wrench to let go of such beloved characters, but time and again over the years it has proved hugely exciting to bring new faces and personalities into the mix. As a large ensemble family, comings and goings are part of life in Call the Midwife and we wish Emerald, Kate and Bryony all the luck for their next projects."

Paul Rhys, Jacob Elordi, Emerald Fennell, Barry Keoghan, Carey Mulligan and Archie Madekwe attend the Los Angeles Premiere Of MGM's "Saltburn" at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on November 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.© Getty Images
Emerald Fennell pictured with the cast of Saltburn

But what happened to Patsy?

In series six, Patsy received a letter from her dying father in Hong Kong and left Poplar to be with him during his final days. Later in the series, Patsy returned to London and was reunited with her girlfriend Delia. In the two seasons that followed, it was revealed that the couple had gone travelling together before eventually settling down in Scotland with a puppy named Garbo.

With Patsy living her happily-ever-after, Emerald could focus on other opportunities in writing and directing.

Emerald Fennell in black suit at premiere for Barbie© Anadolu Agency
Emerald recently appeared in Greta Gerwig's Barbie

Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas confirmed the reason for Emerald's departure during a previous interview with Express.co.uk. "By the time she left the show, it was because she wanted to concentrate on her scriptwriting," said the writer, adding: "And God, did she make the right choice!"

While Emerald has remained tight-lipped over whether she would return to the show one day, we probably won't be seeing her reprise the role anytime soon given her busy schedule. 

EXCLUSIVE: Call the Midwife star Leonie Elliott reveals if Lucille will return to show

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04: Emerald Fennell attends the "Saltburn" Opening Night Gala during the 67th BFI London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall on October 04, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for BFI)© Gareth Cattermole
Emerald went on to become an Oscar-winning filmmaker after leaving Call the Midwife

Stephen McGann, who plays Dr Turner, also confirmed that it's unlikely any former stars will return to the show. Chatting with HELLO! back in 2021, he said: "If I had my way, I'd have them all back," he said, before adding that in reality, that's not very likely because "I don't think Heidi  [Thomas, Stephen's wife and the creator of Call the Midwife], ever really brings characters back."

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