Shortly after Barbara Gilbert arrives at Nonnatus House, another new nurse shows up in the form of Phyllis Crane, a veteran. She initially comes across as a bit snobby. She is also a vegetarian and is not afraid to put her ideas forward. She initially infuriates the staff at Nonnatus, especially Sister Evangelina with her officious manner, but her kinder side surfaces whilst helping Patsy and Barbara with a particularly difficult birth. In one episode, she confides in a the father of a terminated baby that she was an illegitimate child, but in spite of the stigma that went with it, she was determined to make something of herself.
In Series 5, Nurse Crane's past is explored more. It is revealed that because she was illegitimate, her mother's parents threw her out. Desperate and without any support, Phyllis' mother "did anything she could" to feed her child and provide her with shoes, implying she prostituted herself. Phyllis later states she didn't see how it "broke" her mother, and that she wished so much that her mother was alive so she could tell her how much she loved her, how good her mother is and how strong she is.
Although a self-proclaimed spinster, Phyllis has had at least one relationship in the past. During World War II, she and a pilot met and became enamoured with each other. Phyllis later admits that they had sex, because neither knew what the future would hold due to the nature of war. She does not look upon the encounter with bitterness or regret, because she says that soon after he was shot down in the sea during a fire fight. She says it made her glad she "seized the moment".
In the 2016 Christmas Special, Phyllis joins a mission to save a clinic in Apartheid-era South Africa from closure.
It is evident that Phyllis is from Leeds, revealed in the 2015 Christmas Special Part 1 ("My natal home was razed to the ground when they made "improvements" to the Kirkstall Road in Leeds.").
In the 2016 Christmas Special it is revealed that Phyllis is afraid of spiders.
- "When I was in training we were always taught to say "Good morning", "Good afternoon" or "Good evening". "Hello" would not have been permitted. Unless you were talking to Americans, perhaps."
- - Phyllis to Barbara, after Barbara greeted her by saying "hello"