‘Call The Midwife’ is officially back on our screens for its seventh(!) series, and after the positive reception given to last year’s new recruit, Valerie Dyer, bosses are introducing another new midwife.
Nurse Lucille Anderson is the first West Indian midwife to feature as a regular character in the series, and she’ll give viewers a fresh insight into what life was like for the Caribbean nurses who supported the NHS in the 1960s.
Leonie Elliott is taking on the role and while you might not recognise her instantaneously right now, the part will put Leonie in the spotlight, so there’s never been a better time to get to know her better…
She’s been in ‘Black Mirror’
One of Leonie’s biggest roles to date came in 2016 when she played Fiona - Clara’s flatmate - in the ‘Hated In The Nation’ episode of Charlie Brooker’s show.
You might also recognise Leonie from her brief appearances in ‘Holby City’, ‘Casualty’ or ‘The Bill’.
And you might have seen her on stage too
Leonie’s stage credits include a stint in ‘The Lion King’, a UK tour of ‘Annie’ and a Birmingham production of ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’.
But her most high profile role came courtesy of Lenny Henry
The actress played Cherry Patterson in the film ’Danny and the Human Zoo’, written by Lenny and broadcast on BBC One.
The one-off show was a fictionalised account of Lenny’s life as a teenager in 1970s Dudley and the story centred on his rise to fame.
Leonie’s family story is similar to Lucille’s
Speaking at a recent press screening, the actress explained how one of her relatives has a history similar to that of her character.
“My family are from Jamaica, so in that sense, it made it easier,” Leonie said, when asked about how she prepared for the role. “And I have an aunt who has a similar story and came over to England to study.
“So I learnt lots about my family as well, and their experiences.”
And she nailed the part immediately
Speaking when the casting was announced, producer Pippa Harris said that “from her first audition, Leonie managed to embody the essence” of Lucille.
She’s really funny
Check out this BBC Three short, which sees Leonie play Femi - a woman who leaves her boyfriend’s parents needing urgent medical attention, after accidentally feeding them a few too many hot chillies.
Her delivery of the monologue allows the funny, but dry, moments to shine through, ahead of the realisation that comes at the end.
Her character quickly bonds with Valerie and Trixie
While Lucille will face racist comments outside of Nonnatus House, its residents welcome her with open arms.
One storyline will see Lucille and Valerie teach sex education classes and Jennifer Kirby, who plays Valerie, previously stated that the duo’s differing views make them “a very interesting double act”.
“It’s a lovely journey they go on together and we learn lots about their characters,” she said. “Lucille learns quite a few things too, and it shows just how important it is that women were given as much information as possible.”
Leonie was on the BBC’s New Talent Hotlist 2017
The list, compiled in March last year, named all the stars to watch out for on the broadcaster’s channels. Leonie was in good company, as the list also named ‘Dunkirk’ actor Fionn Whitehead and ‘Lady Macbeth’ star Florence Pugh as ones to watch.
Lucile is described as “elegant, intelligent, witty”
She’s also a woman of faith and this will be explored too. “When we did some more research into the way in which the West Indian community was bedding down and becoming local and indigenous in London, we found out some really interesting details about their church-going experience,” creator Heidi Thomas said.
“They were often not as welcome as they should have been in conventional churches and so started to worship in each other’s homes, and they built really strong, religious communities.
“There is something homespun and vibrant and in turn wonderful about seeing how they celebrated the Gospel together and how they developed relationships within their own community that might lead to love or marriage, but was always about offering each other support.”