'Call the Midwife' Nurses Remember Nurse Barbara

Remember Nurse Barbara? Some 'Call the Midwife' viewers were surprised to hear her mentioned during the Christmas special. Here's what happened to her on the show.


Dec. 27 2021, Published 6:54 a.m. ET

BBC's Call the Midwife returned for a very emotional Christmas special, which also marked the beginning of a new season set to start in January on BBC One and in March on PBS. The main event of the episode was Lucille and Cyril’s wedding, along with an onslaught of babies born on Christmas Day.

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Between all the preparations for Lucille’s wedding, including an uproarious hen party in which Lucille tripped and gave herself a black eye, there were plenty of emotional moments, but none that had fans reaching for the tissues quite as much as when beloved Nurse Barbara was mentioned.

Given that it’s been a couple of seasons since she's been at Nonnatus House, you may need a quick refresher on what exactly happened to Call the Midwife's Nurse Barbara.

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What happened to Barbara on 'Call the Midwife'?

The Christmas Day special of Call the Midwife saw the nurses of Nonnatus House reminisce about their late friend, Nurse Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie), in the midst of Lucille's wedding preparations.

Nurse Phyllis (Linda Bassett) seemed particularly affected, since she was not only losing a roommate in Lucille, but also had sad memories of her former roommate and dear deceased friend, Barbara, brought up by the wedding. She burst into sobs when she saw Lucille’s wedding dress, but in a particularly sweet moment, Lucille left Phyllis a touching note along with a string of pearls that Lucille had been too sad to wear.

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“Wear your pearls today for Barbara,” Lucille’s message read. “Because love lasts longer than time itself and friendship never dies.”

Nurse Barbara joined Nonnatus House in Season 4 to replace Nurse Cynthia, and the new midwife quickly won over her colleagues and viewers alike. She proved herself to be a more-than-capable midwife and became very close with Sister Evangelina and Nurse Phyllis. By Season 5, Barbara started dating the vicar Tom Hereward (Jack Ashton) and in the 2016 Christmas special, she and Tom got engaged.

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Season 7 saw Barbara and Tom married and coming back from a vacation in Birmingham when Barbara started to show signs of a cold. After the cold would not go away, Barbara was properly examined by Dr. Turner and it was revealed that she had blood poisoning from meningitis.

Barbara was admitted to the hospital immediately, but after several days and a difficult battle against the disease, Barbara died with Tom and Phyllis by her side.

Although the sudden and quick death of the fan-favorite character had audiences shocked, behind the scenes, actress Charlotte Ritchie was at peace with her character's conclusion. “I felt like Barbara had gone through such a lovely journey, having arrived at Nonnatus House a sort of wreck and quite incompetent, or at least on the surface,” she told Radio Times.

Charlotte continued, “And she’s really grown up and become this adult. And it felt like such a lovely time, with her wedding to Tom, having found that happiness and reconciled with Trixie. It could be a good time to go.”

Since leaving Call the Midwife, Charlotte has appeared in other BBC shows like Doctor Who, Death in Paradise, and most recently, Ghosts.

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