I Just Learned Where Shows Like Call The Midwife Find Newborns, And It Doesn't Work Like I Thought

Much more goes into it than I'd thought.

If you love Call The Midwife as much as I do, you might have wondered where they get their supply of newborn actors.

Well, you’re not alone ― a fan of the behind-the-scenes showbiz podcast The Rest is Entertainment asked its co-hosts Richard Osmsan and Marina Hyde: “Where are they getting their supply of newborn babies from? Do they get paid?”

Journalist Marina Hyde began her answer: “The sourcing of newborn babies for Call The Midwife is a big deal.”

So how do they do it?

Well, there are specialist agents, Marina said. The show needs “a huge number” of newborns per season (60 to 70, per MyLondon), and “they have to be newborns because of the nature of the show”.

So, she says there’s one particular specialist talent agency called JAM2000 which are responsible for an awful lot of TV newborns.

“To be a TV newborn in our country, you can start working ― as long as you’ve got the paperwork ― within a few hours of your birth,” Marina added. She shared that this is not the same in the States, where you have to wait 15 days.

Series producer Ann Trickleback told Radio Times: “Lots of eager parents contact us and say, ‘We are having a baby, would you like it on the show?’ But the reality is that we need our newborns at very specific times due to the filming schedule, and so we get most of our babies through a specialist talent agency.”

Ann added: “We use babies up to about eight weeks old, and sometimes we have special demands, for example with regard to ethnicity. Or perhaps if we’re covering a premature birth, we will need a tiny baby.”

Turns out babies have to worry about camera distortion too

Marina added that the camera doesn’t just supposedly “add ten pounds” to adults ― it’s even true of babies, she says.

“What they want is small newborns, because otherwise, the camera apparently adds quite a lot of pounds.”

She shares that a lot of the babies in Call The Midwife are two to four days old ― and the agencies prefer twins, as not only can they get double the work out of them, but they also tend to be smaller.

The babies can also only go on for 15 minutes (true divas) and must be chaperoned at all times on set. So, Trickleback shared that they often rehearse with a silicone dummy baby.

“We rehearse the birth with what we call a ‘jelly baby’, which is essentially a silicone model that feels and looks just like a real baby,” she told Radio Times.

“But when the time comes to shoot, we use a real baby. We pass it under the actor’s thigh and she brings it up, holding the baby and its umbilical cord, which is made of silicone, and then she holds it against its tummy.”

Ah, TV magic...


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