Call the Midwife soundtrack: who did the music and what’s the theme song called?

17 February 2022, 13:57 | Updated: 17 February 2022, 14:37

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

All you need to know about the music scoring ‘Call the Midwife’, the TV drama centred around a band of midwives working in East London.

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Sweeping orchestral lines, and a jaunty, pizzicato-led main theme: the music for Call the Midwife is every bit as central to the popular TV drama as its engaging storytelling and lovable characters.

The narrative follows a band of midwives working in East London from the 1950s to 1960s, and it has become one of Britain’s most popular TV shows, with excitement building for the Series 11 Finale which lands this Sunday (20 February) at 8pm.

But what about the music?

Here’s all you need to know about composer Peter Salem’s addictive main theme, and the orchestral scoring of Maurizio Malagnini, whose music has weaved through the final four seasons of the show.

Read more: The 25 greatest TV themes of all time

Popular TV drama Call the Midwife has been running since 2011
Popular TV drama Call the Midwife has been running since 2011. Picture: Alamy

Who wrote the main theme to Call the Midwife?

The much-loved theme tune for Call the Midwife was written by composer Peter Salem, who also composed music for the first, second and third seasons of the programme. In 2021, Salem’s theme was voted among the nation’s favourite melodies for the small screen in Classic FM’s TV Music Countdown.

Salem has previously said he was keen his orchestrations reflect the tone of the original 1950s songs – from Elvis Presley to Perry Como – which weave through each episode.

“Working on Call the Midwife I was keen, as we all were, not to produce a purely period ‘museum’ piece,” Salem said. “I wanted to reference the music of the time, particularly its lightness and optimism, but also to create something fresh, direct and contemporary.

“One was a certain pizzicato string sound, which you get in songs by singers such as Tommy Steele, and is very characteristic of the period. Another was a twangy, tremolo fifties’ guitar sound.”

Who wrote the orchestral music for Call the Midwife?

Warning: Series 11 spoilers ahead

Italian composer Maurizio Malagnini has composed the music for Call the Midwife since its fourth season. Malagnini is an Emmy-nominated Italian composer, whose music has scored The Paradise and Peter and Wendy, among many other film and TV shows. His sound is primarily orchestral, with stunning string melodies and sweeping cinematic lines taking a central role in the TV shows he works on.

After studying composition in Italy, Malagnini continued his studies in London at the Royal College of Music, where he now delivers occasional masterclasses.

Speaking exclusively to Classic FM, Malagnini said what has inspired him most in his writing, is “the empathy that Heidi Thomas [the writer] creates between the characters, and the values of family and love for life that are at the heart of the show”.

“Last Sunday night was a very dark hour for the world of Call the Midwife,” Malagnini said, referring to the penultimate episode of Series 11, which ended on a potentially fatal cliffhanger for two of the show’s beloved characters.

“We know that Dr Turner and Sister Julienne may have died in the train incident. It was a very difficult scene to score, I recorded it in Vienna with the Synchron Stage Orchestra, [and] the players put a lot of energy into the performance.

“It is a long sequence without any dialogue and the music is pulsating and growing together with the awareness of the characters that things are going out of control. (sic)”

You can listen to the stunning piece above.

The Series 11 Finale of Call the Midwife is out on Sunday 20 February at 8pm.