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"I generally answer to Chummy; my Pa used to say long dogs need short names."
- Chummy to Sister Evangelina


Camilla "Chummy" Noakes (née Fortescue-Cholmeley-Browne) is a nurse and midwife.

Overview Edit

Camilla was born into a wealthy family with aristocratic roots, but turned her back on her birthright in order to work among the poor as a midwife in Poplar, East London. Standing an ungainly 6'1", she felt out of place in high society and instead dedicated herself to good works. She further turned her back on her roots by marrying an East End police constable, Peter Noakes, with whom she conceived a son, Freddie, whilst doing missionary work in Sierra Leone.

She sometimes helps with The Beavers and Scouts and acts as their Scouts master. Her nickname comes from Cholmeley, the second part of her triple-barreled surname (pronounced "Chummly").

Personality Edit

"Eternally good-humoured and monumentally kind, Chummy is crippled by lack of self-confidence. Her great height and physical clumsiness play its part, but a loveless childhood spent in boarding schools has made the greater impact. An adept midwife, she is hampered by acute shyness and – perhaps more crucially – a complete inability to ride a bike. Chummy soon wins the hearts of her colleagues, but her struggle for self-belief will threaten to capsize her". [1]

History Edit

Family and education Edit

As a very young girl, Chummy lived in India, where her father continued the family tradition of working in the Indian Civil Service. Her great-great-grandfather had entered the Indian Civil Service in the 1820s, as it was customary for younger sons of landed families to join the civil service or armed forces. Her father was Governor of Rajasthan and was later knighted for services to the Viceroy. Chummy was the only girl in the family and she and her six brothers were educated in England while their parents remained in British India. At age 6, Chummy was sent to boarding school and later attended Roedean School in Brighton, East Sussex, while her brothers all attended Eton College.[2]

Following Roedean, Chummy was sent to finishing school in Switzerland and Lucie Clayton Charm School in London. As expected of a girl of her class, Chummy was presented to the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace, and kept a framed photo of herself alongside King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. After her debutante season, with apparently no offers of marriage, Chummy spent a year at a cordon bleu school in order to become the perfect society hostess. Despite all her training, Chummy remained awkward and ungainly, and thus was then sent to the Royal School of Needlework in London, where she became quite skilled with sewing and embroidery.[2]

However, she found the work unsatisfying and felt committed to the Roedean school motto, Honneur aulx dignes ("Honour the Worthy"). To the disappointment of her mother, she felt a calling to become a nurse and studied at the Nightingale School of Nursing at St Thomas's Hospital in London. There she felt her first taste of real success, winning the Nightingale Prize three years in a row. She then worked as a nurse for five years, enduring mockery and bullying from doctors and her other nurses, who played cruel pranks on her. She then decided to become a midwife and just scraped by in passing her exams while working as a trainee midwife.[2]

Nonnatus House Edit

Upon arriving at Nonnatus House, Chummy immediately made an impression on the very prickly Sister Evangelina, who commented on her height, her mediocre grades in midwife training and her pink uniform. Due to Chummy's height, she was unable to fit the largest nursing uniforms they had, and had to borrow the house's sewing machine to alter it. However, due to her excellent sewing skills, this was not a problem for her. Chummy also did not know how to ride a bike, and thought initially that she could walk to all her patients. As the midwives cover 8 square miles, she soon learned walking would not be sufficient and was frequently chastised by Sister Evangelina for being late. Trixie and Cynthia helped her to learn, but not without frequent crashes, making her the object of ridicule for the neighbourhood children. Her first ride solo with the other nurses caused her to crash into a police officer, Constable Peter Noakes. Thankfully, Peter did not arrest her, and to thank him, she later bought him a bottle of scotch.

As Chummy adjusted to life at Nonnatus and midwifery, she tended to be late or miss appointments in the district until she finally learned to ride a bike. She was also naturally extremely clumsy, and tended to bump into things at the antenatal clinic. All these incidences just flared the ire of Sister Evangelina, whom Cynthia described as a "reverse snob" and who did not hide her resentment of the upper-class Chummy. Sister Evangelina angrily said that district nursing and midwifery were "stepping stones" to Chummy, and that she was looking down on them all "from her great height." Chummy heard her, but made no comment on the insults.

When the Sister found out that Chummy was missing appointments, because she still couldn't ride a bicycle, she viciously scolded her in front of the other nurses, stunning them all into an awkward silence. When Chummy tends to a breach birth for the first time, she calmly guides the mother through the ordeal and safely delivers the baby. Sister Evangelina sees this and begins to accept her as one of her own. When she gains confidence, Chummy's clumsiness improves and she never dropped so much as a bottle while working.[2]

Despite her privileged but cold upbringing, Chummy is kind-hearted and generous. Her posh accent is out of place in Poplar, but she always makes her patients feel comfortable. She also buys a bicycle for a neighbourhood boy, who rode with her and never allowed other children to tease her. Instead of making her bitter, her years of being the butt of jokes have made her very compassionate, which was on display in the empathy she showed for Lynette Duncan, an overweight teen whose size hid her own pregnancy.

Sister Evangalina, who quickly grows tired of Chummy and Constable Noakes' awkwardness around each other, arranges their first date. Their romance soon blossoms, despite the overt disapproval of Chummy's snobby mother, Lady Browne, who tries to talk her into being a spinster missionary ("because then at least our friends would understand it.") She stands up to her mother, however, and she and Peter Noakes are married at the justice of the peace.

Missionary work in Africa Edit

In Series 2, Chummy found a longing within her to become a missionary in Sierra Leone. The idea seemed a perfect fit for her and Peter, but unknown to Chummy, was that for Peter to join in on the local police force in Africa, he must complete a strenuous physical exam. Angrily, Peter declared himself as "roly-poly" and Chummy realized she had been selfish in not considering Peter. However, after vigorous training with Fred, Peter was declared fit enough, and was accepted into the African police force. The two left for Africa for six months. Chummy and Peter are given a serenade farewell

Marriage and childbirth Edit

She married Peter Noakes in the Series One finale, wearing a grey suit, much to her mother's horror. The bridesmaids, dressed in their uniforms, were her co-workers. The groomsmen, also dressed in uniform, were Peter's co-workers.

After going to Sierra Leone, she comes back nine months pregnant at the end of Series Two. Her fellow midwives planned to deliver her baby, and had fun joking about how they were to treat their co-worker as any other pregnant woman. As Chummy's childhood was anything but loving and warm, she began to fear what sort of mother she would be, and if her child would be happy. Upon voicing her fears to Fred, the handyman, he assured her that parenting is about loving your child and about being there for them. Chummy's fears are put to rest, and she looks forward to motherhood.

However, Chummy's labour began to go wrong soon after it began, when the other midwives discovered blood all down the back of her nightdress. They soon learned Chummy had suffered a placental abruption, and two hemorrhages. The women of Nonnatus were all devastated, and even Sister Evangelina cried and told Peter to take care of her as the ambulance rushed away. Chummy was rushed to the London for an emergency Caesarean section. As he waited, Peter was shown crying in the hall, worried about his wife and unborn baby. Her son was delivered safely and was healthy at birth. Chummy came out of theater looking pale, barely alive and still hadn't woken up the next day. She was also hooked to a glass bottle of blood. Jenny and Sister Julienne visited her, covered her with their homemade quilt, and placed her baby beside her. Only at that time did she wake up and tell her newborn, "It's all right. I'm here". She made a full recovery and returned to part-time midwifery in Series Three. Her son is named after Fred; she calls him Freddie.

Trivia Edit

  • To date, the last episode of Series 4 is the last episode Chummy has appeared in. She was due to appear in the Series 5 finalé, but Miranda Hart was unavailable due to other commitments. In February 2017, Hart revealed she was due to appear in the 2016 Christmas special, but had to back out due to illness.

References Edit

  1. Chummy Noakes, BBC One
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Worth, Jennifer (2 December 2012). Chummy: Call the Midwife's elusive star. The Radio Times

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