Marjory Chivvers is a character that was featured in Call the Midwife, Series 7, Episode 2. She was Lucille Anderson's first patient, who suffered a stroke shortly after the birth of her son.
Series 7 Edit
Marjory's father abandoned his family when she was a toddler, leaving his wife for another woman, never to be heard from again. This left her mother, Mae, very angry and bitter, leaving a lasting resentment towards men in particular. Marjory would eventually marry Dennis Chivvers and have three children with him. Marjory was also school friends with Valerie Dyer, so close that Marjory’s daughters call her “aunt Val”.
At the start of the episode, Valarie is in Mae’s salon, getting her hair done. Marjory works across on another woman’s hair. She reveals she’s in active labour, but says it isn’t worth worrying over because with her older two children, she was working right up to the birth. However, when she doubles over with a contraction, Valerie has Mae call Nonnatus.
The midwife who arrives is Nurse Lucille Anderson, a black woman from Jamaica. Mae is immediately hostile with her, and later, Marjory would assure the nurse it isn’t “because you’re coloured” but that her mother’s terrible to everyone. Marjory is very kind to Lucille in contrast, insisting that the nurse call her Marj.
Marjory gives birth to a little boy, much to her mother’s derision, who simply says “We don’t do boys.” Marjory and her husband are joyful, and name the baby Dennis Jr.
A few days later, when Lucille returns to do a post natal check-up, she notices that Marjory’s blood pressure is high. When Valarie arrives to give Marjory a baby present, she has Marjory hand off Dennis Jr. to Valarie so she can check the blood pressure again. Just as Marjory is talking, she jerks and gasps suddenly, crying about her head and grasping the part just behind her right ear. She tries to stumble out of bed, saying she’s going to be sick and collapses into Lucille’s arms. Valarie immediately calls for an ambulance, thinking that Marjory has post natal eclampsia.
Lucille, meanwhile, checks Marjory over. She notes no swelling in her fingers, sees that her smile is uneven, notes that Marjory’s left side is paralyzed and believes the young woman has just had a stroke. At the hospital, the diagnosis is confirmed.
Mae’s awfulness is highlighted when Dennis hurriedly arrives at the hospital, and is told by Mae that his wife’s had a stroke. He pleads to talk to a professional, to know exactly what’s going on, but Mae simply says the doctors will only talk to her, as she’s told them she’s Marjory’s next of kin.
Marjory is sent home after a few days, partly on her mother’s insistence. Mae then continues to isolate herself and her daughter, by insisting that she is the only one who should care for Marjory. She even refutes Dr. Turner’s suggestion that the nurse should teach Dennis how to help care for his wife. She berates Dennis when he tries to help Marjory hold their newborn, saying it isn’t safe, and promptly kicks Dennis out of the room, saying she will be sleeping there now.
Later, as Mae lays down to sleep next to Marjory, it is clear that this is how Mae preferred their life, ever since her husband left: just the two of them.
A few days later, Mae overhears some women in the salon speculating that Mae was the cause of Marjory’s stroke due to her pushing for Marjory to work. She then heads down to the clinic for milk tolkens, where they encounter Nurse Anderson. When the nurse tries to touch baby Dennis, Mae shouts “Hands off!” she goes on a tirade, making a scene in front of all the other patients, saying that it was Lucille’s fault that Marjory had a stroke, not hers. Valarie, Shelagh and Dr. Turner are furious. Naturally, the other expectant mothers are wary of Lucille.
To spare Lucille’s feelings, Nurse Crane and Sister Julienne decide to take her off Marjory’s case, but put her back on when Lucille insists that it is better that she remain Marjory’s nurse.
The next time Lucille arrives at the salon to see Marjory, Mae is ready to kick her out. However, Lucille tells her that she did not cause the stroke, and assures Mae that it wasn’t her fault either. She says that only God knows why Marjory had a stroke. Mae softens, and allows Lucille to pass. The two women give Marjory a bed bath, and Mae gets to know Lucille a little more. Mae asks if she misses her mother, and Lucille says yes.
As Lucille gets ready to leave, she says goodbye to Dennis Sr. and the baby starts to wail from his bassinet. He tells the nurse Mae will see to the baby, and when Lucille replies that he is capable of tending to the baby, he says Mae would bite his head off for not doing it “right”. Lucille soothes the baby and Dennis tells her that Marjory’s started to speak again, repeating the same words over and over.
Dennis tells the nurse he misses his wife dearly, and that he doesn’t know how life will go on now that she’s incapacitated. Mae comes in, and takes the baby from the nurse, and Dennis awkwardly starts leaving for the pub. Mae snidely remarks “no surprise there, then.”
Dr. Turner informs Lucille that he’s arranged a place at an Occupational Clinic for Marjory, where they will help her rehabilitate and learn new skills for everyday life. They both agree that this would be a marvelous place for Marjory. However, upon arriving to tour the clinic, Mae flat refuses to send Marjory there every week.
Later Sister Monica Joan tells Lucille that Mae “glimpsed the future, and did not like what she saw.” She tells the young nurse that “what cannot be changed, must be endured” and tells her that with experience and age, “hope dims”.
Lucille is not deterred, and encourages Dennis to accept the place at the clinic for Marjory’s sake. After work, Dennis arrives home with a new sense of purpose. He goes upstairs and picks out a nice outfit for Marjory and tells Mae that she’s going to the rehab clinic on Monday. Marjory smiles, but Mae is not happy, asking Dennis if he thinks Marjory wants people to see her “like that”. He bites back, saying Marjory wants a life, and wants something more than the four walls of the bedroom. Even though Mae insults him, he kindly and hopefully says that they will all work through this together. He tells Mae that he will look after Marj in the night, “because I’m her husband”.
Later, Dennis brings Marjory some flowers. Previously, Marjory had told the nurse they’d had the same flowers at their wedding. She smells them, and says “wedding”, making Dennis hopeful.
At the end of the episode, Mae is down in the salon, doing Marjory’s hair the way she liked while Dennis smiles on. In voice over, Jenny reveals that though Marjory was never quite the same, she and Dennis worked to find new ways to show their love for each other, and how to care for their children. She says that Marjory never needed to face the future alone, because she had her family at her side.
Dennis Chivvers - Husband
Mae - Mother
2 daughters, one named Karen
1 son - Dennis Jr. (called by Denny)
Valerie Dyer - school friend, children's surrogate aunt