Call the Midwife attracts record-breaking audience in triumphant third series return

The hit BBC drama drew average viewing figures of 9.6 million on Sunday

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The Independent Culture

Period drama Call the Midwife attracted a record-breaking weekend audience when the hit series returned for a third run on Sunday.

Last night, an average of 9.6 million viewers tuned in to BBC One to watch Jenny, new mum Chummy ( played by Miranda Hart), Trixie and the rest of the lovable cast relocate after their home was destroyed during the Christmas special.

Figures were up by 300,000 on the opening episode of series two last year, which drew 9.3 million on average.

Heidi Thomas’ popular show is based on the memoirs and experiences of Jennifer Worth, a midwife who worked with nuns in the impoverished East End of London during the 1950s. Helen George, Jessica Raine and Bryony Hannah star among its ensemble.

During an interview with The Independent in December, Thomas proudly revealed that a US paper had described Call the Midwife as "the Breaking Bad of midwifery drama". What most UK viewers would call heart-warming, international fans consider edgy, as midwifery is a minority profession in the US.

Furthermore, the show offers an interesting new perspective across the Atlantic. "I think it’s helped fan the flames of the debate about publicly-funded healthcare in America," Thomas said.

New BBC One series The Musketeers did not make such an impressive entrance on Sunday, pulling in an average of 7.4 million later in the evening. The return of drama Mr Selfridge also failed to rival Call the Midwife when it attracted an average of 5.3 million viewers.

Sneak a peek at stills from the third series of Call the Midwife below: