Call the Midwife star breaks down season 12's touching finale
Call the Midwife season-12 finale spoilers below
When Call the Midwife’s Matthew Aylward first cropped up on the streets of Poplar in season 10 his life looked very different to the way it does now.
His marital bliss was blighted by tragedy when his expectant wife was diagnosed with –and later died from – leukaemia.
Fast forward two seasons and the single father has managed to pulled himself up out the depths of grief and with the help of Trixie he has rebuilt his life.
Matthew's endearing character trait of always trying to better himself and his endeavours to understand those around him has earned a place among the other fan favourites of the show.
Season 12’s finale saw him get hitched to Trixie, the new love of his life, but while he has been able to finally find happiness in creating a new life with her things don’t go as smoothly as they planned for a number of reasons.
In an exclusive interview with Digital Spy, Olly Rix, the actor behind the humble, wealthy Baronet, unpicks Matthew’s Call the Midwife journey and why that important finale moment was a "masterstroke."
From widow to altar we learn just how much Poplar – with its Nonnatus nuns and nurses – have helped him grow and what the future holds for Rix beyond the commissioned season 13.
Fans of the show will know how much this wedding means to Trixie after all she’s been through but it’s also really emotional for Matthew. What is his experience?
Yeah, he does have a wobble. That was sort of plotted in. I think that… It’s funny. It’s a nice story beat, and I get it. I get why it was there. I get that Trixie is sort of nervous and worried about the trappings of getting married, and things looking right, and being right, and seating plans, and dresses, and everything else.
It’s something I’ve said a few times now, and I stand by it. I don’t think that Matthew has any superficial doubt whatsoever about marrying Trixie. I think that he is a rare example of somebody who gets precisely the person they need and want.
That is really rare. I don’t mean to speak ill of anybody, but as I get older, I look at people, and I think, 'You’re not married to the right person. You’ve not had a family with the right person. You’re not dating the right person.' Whatever.
We all kind of compromise, and we all deal with the fact that time’s running away. We play the hand we’re dealt. To an extent, that’s all he’s done as well. It’s not necessarily been through his own effort that this has come about, that he could never have foreseen any of the circumstances that lead up to this.
But I think ultimately – what I hope you see when you see the episode… I haven’t seen the episode yet. But I hope you see a man that when he looks at her walking up the aisle, just realises that it’s just so simple, and everything he could have possibly wanted.
Most of the time on TV you see weddings from a woman’s point of view. It’s really nice that you get to see it from a man’s perspective.
Absolutely and I think that the nerves, whilst they look as if they’re about the day or the ceremony or people watching or the things that people are normally nervous about with weddings – I think it’s something else with Matthew.
They have a telephone conversation in the episode where Trixie picks up that it’s something much deeper, and says to him, 'We’ll have the time that we have, which will hopefully be a long time – forever.'
I think she’s speaking about the fact that he’s lost somebody before. I think his nerves come from the fact that, again, this woman is in front of him who he just adores. The sun rises and sets with her. There’s no doubt about any of that but I think it’s frightening when you’ve lost somebody before, to think, ‘I’m about to go here again. I might lose this person.’
So I think his worry and his nerves, while they might look to be about his wedding day, I don’t think he’s nervous about that. I think he’s nervous about loss, and how much he loves her.
It’s great to hear that you’re coming back for season 13 and that Call the Midwife has been renewed until 2026. Do you hope that your future on the show will be as long, or are you craving new opportunities?
When I was younger, I was always thinking about the next job, the next step, the next project.
In my humble experience, the industry is not a nice place to be in, and it won’t work, if you think like that. You just have to think about what’s in front of you at any given moment.
At the moment, all I’m thinking about is Call the Midwife because that’s in front of me, and I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if the show wants me until 2026. They might not want to go there. I don’t know. One never really knows but as far as I’m concerned, I’m not looking for the next thing.
I’m not looking to catch the next branch. I’m gripping the branch I’m on at the moment, and giving it everything I’ve got.
Do you still find the role of Matthew challenging?
Yeah, I do. I was talking to somebody the other day about this. They sort of said that he seems really together and self-assured and stuff. I’ve never really seen him that way at all. I think he’s always coming from a place of being slightly off-balance.
You know, one of the things that’s so special about their relationship is that Trixie is constantly reminding him of where he’s come from, and the sort of privileges that he’s enjoyed, and how he can help other people.
There’s been quite a sort of explicit education of this guy all the way along. Not that he was ever a bad person or anything, but, you know, he had some things to learn and, of course, he had some major things to learn like being a father. Not only being a father, but being a single father: being a single father whilst coping with grief.
He’s just never felt easy for me and for the longest time, it really bothered me as an actor: I didn’t ever feel like I’d put him on.
How do you see this role expanding in the next season?
He is very heavily invested in Nonnatus House. Like, quite literally financially invested, and also obviously emotionally invested.
I think that, you know, coming up is a time of quite steep and radical political change and restructure in the way that midwives operated.
I don’t really know what’s going to happen next but I do know a lot of social change is about to happen, and I know you have a guy who’s standing on the edge of some big reorientation and realisation about what he has to do with his life.
So I imagine that the two will sort of marry up, especially with Trixie’s influence and not just Trixie, but everybody around him. He’s very influenced by all of them, I think. Through this series, you see him go into the house more. He starts to eat there. He makes friends with everybody else. It’s not just Trixie.
I think you see somebody that is poised and ready to think about his estate and his place in the world a bit differently, and act accordingly.
Let’s talk about the final episode.
He buys Nonnatus House. It financially underpins the entire thing by the end of the series 12.
So, yeah. I mean, this isn’t a guy who’s going to suddenly change tack, or get out, or go in a different direction. He’s made it very clear what his intentions are, I think – literally through his financial actions.
Why is Nonnatus House so special to him, beyond Trixie?
He’s influenced by Trixie. She challenges him. It would be really wrong to present him as a character that just does things to impress Trixie. It’s a lot more than that, and that wouldn’t impress Trixie anyway. She’s also not the kind of person that would respond to that.
Again, you’re really seeing a guy that has genuinely come to feel this way about the importance of the work they do, and the importance of their position in the society around them, which is obviously seriously impoverished and under-catered for, and unseen a lot of the time – especially unseen by powerful people, and people like him; historically, like his family.
I think he has a huge debt of gratitude towards them as well, simply for the way they cared for his dying wife.
The street celebration, on paper, for Trixie and Matthew doesn’t sound like it would work, but it really does. Why do you think that is?
I’m terrible at questions like this, but somebody the other day, Helen (George) and I were doing an interview, and they said, “Can you sum up the episode in three words?”
I just immediately lose all my words but the first thing she said was “community,” and then when I was asked the question by somebody else a few days later, I nicked her answer, and got in there first, and said the same thing.
I think what’s special about their wedding is that, OK, the wedding itself takes place in a nice church in Chelsea and everything but really, it is about everybody around them, just as much as it is about them.
They could have so easily have had something quite exclusive, and sort of lost contact with everybody back home.
I think the street celebration really is the culmination of the point that is being made at the end of the episode. It’s about family. They’re all family and they’re more family than the characters’ actual families.
We spend more time with them. We’re more sort of tied to them, I think; indebted to them; and beholden to them, than we are to my father or whatever.
So I think it really is the only place it could have happened. It would have been awful if it was just a big society wing, and it was all about being seen, and being at the right party, and having the right invite, and sitting next to the right person at the right table. It’s so not what they stand for.
They have the means, and they could have done that with his money, and his social standing and connections and, of course, they both have titles by the point of being married. It’s just not what they’re about. So I think that was quite a masterstroke in terms of the writing, to have a disaster that brings them back really fundamentally to where they need to be.
Yeah, to the heart of it all.
Literally the heart of the house. When they cut the cake – or when the cake is being brought out, we’re standing in the dining hall of Nonnatus House. We’re really smack bang in the centre of this world. I think it’s quite nice. Poetically quite nice.
Obviously the show’s been renewed to 2026. What do you think it is about Call the Midwife that makes people have such faith in its success?
It’s a really interesting question, and something that I think about a lot. You know, I try to remember that I’m not a woman, and I’ve not had a baby. There are aspects to the show that I don’t necessarily have a sort of instinctive connection or understanding of, because it’s not my life experience.
But when I think about the character I play, I think he’s fundamentally just trying to be a good guy and I think there’s a real appetite for that, from the public, to see people— I’m not talking about just my character, but that’s where I’ve sort of come at it from.
But when you extrapolate from me, out to everybody and the world, it’s just a whole bunch of people just trying to be fundamentally decent.
I think we are struggling to see a lot of that in current society, and day-to-day life, and culture wars, and politics, and all the crap that we have to wade through every single day. It’s exhausting.
You just think that none of us are prepared to be nice to each other, and to look after each other. [Call the Midwife] is just a nice idea. It sort of renews your faith in people, I suppose, to think that all these people have come together – regardless of social background, or whether they’re in religious orders or they’re secular or whatever else. They’re all just trying to do right by the people that they come across.
For me, that would be the sort of crowning glory of the show, and its message, and its value. I think that’s why it gets renewed: I think there’s an appetite for that.
Call the Midwife seasons 1-12 are available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.
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