Has Call the Midwife's Lucille Anderson left for good?
Note: The following article contains discussion of topics including depression, suicidal thoughts, racial abuse, and baby loss.
Call the Midwife season 12 spoilers follow.
Poor Lucille (Leonie Elliott) had a brutal start to season 12 of Call the Midwife. Nonnatus' once spritely district nurse was hit with depression so severe that it sparked a shock early exit.
Episode two saw Lucille in the thick of her struggle with mental illness. Enoch Powell's opposition to immigrants stoked nationwide discontent, making the Jamaican-born nurse feel unwelcome in Poplar. But those weren't the only troubles plaguing Lucille.
Her tragic miscarriage and struggles to conceive were compounded by her homesickness pushing her to the edge. Lucille began to grapple with suicidal thoughts as she tottered at the curb of a busy road.
The overwhelming grief was enough to compel her to finally accept the help she needs to get better and after being signed off from work, her devoted, loving husband Cyril (Zephryn Taitte) surprised her with an open ticket to Jamaica.
This news went a long way to lifting Lucille's spirits. She had been aching to see her family, most notably her sister, whose recent pregnancy news was bittersweet.
However, despite Lucille's joy, fans were gutted to see the beloved character go and were desperate for this not to be the end of her story arc.
"Please make Lucille happy again, Call the Midwife. Don't let them leave. I think she is lovely," one viewer wrote.
Please make Lucille happy again #CallTheMidwife
Don't let them leave. I think she is lovely.
— LeTrinity65 (@LisaBro21177876) January 9, 2023
I hope this isn't the last we see of Lucille. I love her character and her and Cyril together so much #callthemidwife
— 💕💗I am Sophie, the sloth of joy 💗💕 (@idonteatturnips) January 9, 2023
Following episode two, Leonie took to Twitter to reflect on her character's season 12 journey.
"This season was incredibly difficult to film. Thank you for all your kind words. It's my hope for people watching that if they can see good in her, maybe they can extend that to people in real life," she wrote.
"I care about her deeply. Many share her story of miscarriage and depression, and many share her experience of abuse, racial or otherwise.
"Many of us face mental health challenges, I hope we can continue to love one another, support and listen to each other. Look after yourselves and each other."
Some have asked about Lucille’s journey this season, I guess this is what I hope we hold onto…
Episode 2 tonight pic.twitter.com/qfiN2hPKNV
— Leonie Elliott (@Leonie_Elliott) January 8, 2023
Hmmm, this sounds a little like a touching goodbye.
Suspicions were raised further when we, like Cyril, were dealt a pretty massive blow in episode five. During the episode, Cyril learnt that Lucille would not be returning to Poplar any time soon.
His phone call to Jamaica revealed that Lucille had taken a job at the town hospital to initially pay her way at her parents' home. However, she had since taken a six-month contract on a maternity ward.
This devastating news was further exacerbated after Cyril's brief round trip to see Lucille. Eager to reconnect with his wife, Cyril hopped on a plane to Jamaica. Many had hoped that seeing her husband would have been enough to remind Lucille of some of the cherished things Poplar has to offer, but sadly this was not the case for her.
In the following episode, when Cyril returned, he did so alone and crestfallen, we might add. We get you, Cyril. We feel it too.
When Violet asked how Lucille was, he bravely replied: "Lucille is still in Jamaica. She's fine, she's taken to her new job and it's doing her good to be with her family. She sends her love."
Cyril added: "I have a good job here and some good friends. This is my home."
The idea of the two divided was almost too heartbreaking, but fans held out hope for Lucille's return in the finale. Surely she wasn't about to miss the wedding of the year, right?
Wrong. Trixie and Matthew's nuptials took place without the attendance of their very good friend. What's worse is her absence was neither explained nor made reference to, which leads us to question her future in the show.
Heavy sigh! What does this all mean? Has Lucille left for good? Here's what we know.
Has Lucille left Call the Midwife?
Call the Midwife may have been renewed until 2026, but whether Leonie Elliott will be joining the cast for the journey, that's a stickier question.
We'll admit, it doesn't look good on or off screen. There appears to be a gentle phasing out of Lucille. Her absence lingered like an uncomfortable silence throughout the season 12 finale.
We still hear it now, whispers floating around Trixie and Matthew's wedding: "Did you see Cyril at the church…all alone?"
Yes. We noticed, but what does it mean?
Alongside Helen George, Olly Rix and Judy Parfitt, Zephryn Taitte has been confirmed to return to the show for its 13th season.
The news came ahead of the finale release just after Call the Midwife had been commissioned until season 15.
Elliott was not confirmed in the lineup, which adds further fuel to the speculation of her exit being permanent. However, the actress is not reportedly working on any new projects at the moment, which means she should technically be available by the time Call the Midwife begins production on season 13 in the spring.
Speaking about her absence, Olly Rix, who plays Matthew, told Digital Spy: "She’s obviously a fan favourite. I think a lot of people would be very upset to see her go."
Not exactly confirmation that she'll be back but we have hope!
It also bodes well that her story felt somewhat incomplete.
Elliott’s character left Poplar under terrible circumstance and while returning home to Jamaica may have given her a different perspective and improved her mental health the thought of her on the precipice of suicide is still ingrained in viewers' minds.
It’s likely the fan-favourite character will return to Poplar, if only to finish off her story arc on a more positive note.
Call the Midwife season 12 airs every Sunday at 8pm on BBC One, and streams on BBC iPlayer.
We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
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