It’s Sunday, so in addition to gearing up for the week ahead, I’m also looking forward to the next instalment of Call the Midwife on BBC1 this evening. Set in London’s East End in the 1950s, it follows the lives of young midwife Jenny Lee and her colleagues in nursing convent Nonnatus House.

There are some high-profile names in Call the Midwife, with Pam Ferris and Jenny Agutter playing two of the Sisters and Vanessa Redgrave narrating the series as Jenny Lee in later life. Miranda Hart appears as Nurse Fortescue-Cholmeley-Browne, otherwise known as Chummy, and I have to say I actually prefer her in this role to her more slapstick character Miranda. She plays Chummy with the perfect blend of warmth, humour and vulnerability and her budding relationship with a local police officer is charming to watch.

Call the Midwife successfully balances amusing and heart-warming moments with incidents of sheer tragedy, without ever seeming far-fetched or melodramatic. This is possibly due to the fact that it’s based on the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the real Jenny Lee, who died last year aged 75. The joy of becoming parents is tempered by the very real issues of poverty, sickness and death and the series touches upon issues that are still pertinent in today’s society, such as the importance of good nursing care and the horrors of forced prostitution.

In spite of these hard-hitting doses of reality, it’s an enjoyable hour of television viewing and has, for me, sparked a genuine interest in reading Jennifer Worth’s original memoirs of the same title. After tonight there’s only one episode left, but a second series has been commissioned so I’ll look forward to plenty more smiles and tears in 2013.