Introducing Nonnatus House's Newest Midwife, Nancy Corrigan

·6 min read

Megan Cusack was perhaps always destined to make an appearance on Call the Midwife. Not only is performing in her blood (Her father is theater producer Pádraig Cusack; Sinéad Cusack and Jeremy Irons are her aunt and uncle), but delivering babies is also a family business—when her grandmother was younger, she worked as a midwife. Cusack joins the show's milestone 10th season in the role of Nancy, an Irish midwife trainee who comes to join the Nonnatus House community...and still has some work to do on her bedside manner.

Ahead of her debut on the show, Cusack spoke with T&C about the show's audition process (knowing how to ride a bike is a must for aspiring midwives), shared what it was like filming during COVID, and offered a preview of this year's Christmas special.

You joined the cast of Call the Midwife in its milestone 10th season. What was that like?

It's so funny. It seems like we started so long ago now, but joining something like this, which is so beloved by people, it feels very special. And then to join in the 10th season, I think makes it even more so. But the cast and crew make it what it is. I was apprehensive about joining, but it’s like a big old family. Everyone's so gorgeous, so welcoming, which made it very easy, despite [my] being incredibly nervous.

I'm having the best time. Do you know that thing where you're in a normal moment, and then suddenly you have this overwhelming feeling of contentment? And you feel it behind your eyes as if you're going to have a cry, but really you're just like, "Oh my goodness, this is what I'm doing right now in this moment. And it's where I wanted to be. It's what I wanted to do." It's like an out of body experience. I get one of those at least once a day when I'm on set, so I take that as a good sign.

Photo credit: Laura Radford
Photo credit: Laura Radford

Tell me a little bit about your character Nancy.

I personally think she's great craic. I find her hilarious. She's definitely not subtle—but mostly, she really, really puts her foot in it. Her bedside manner is really something that needs to be worked on, and she doesn't have a filter. Sometimes I'll be reading the script going, "Oh, wow. She's really going to say that?"

But I think she's quite strong. She's had to go through quite a lot in her past, which you find out further on in the season. So I think a lot of her bubbly, funny nature is possibly just her trying to help herself through, and how she's learnt to take care of herself. She's multifaceted. There's lots going on.

What was your audition process like?

It was a bit of a whirlwind. My friend was actually doing a tape for it, and I was like, "Oh, southern Irish, 22, living in London. I think that's a bit of me." So I sent it to my agent, and asked, "Do you think I can try and get in for this?" She worked her magic and obviously, because of COVID, everything's over tape or a Zoom. I get the tape on Friday. I work on it on the Saturday, film it on the Sunday, and send it off on the Monday, so it was real quick turnaround. And then Wednesday, I got a call from my agent. She asks me, "Can you ride a bike?" I was said, "I haven't for a while, but yes." And then two hours later, I got the call offering me the job.

How was filming during COVID?

The thing with me is I've never filmed without COVID. It’s only way I've ever filmed. But you're made to feel incredibly safe on set. They're quite strict, but I think that's how it should be. We're all constantly masked up, and even when you're filming, you've got to be two meters apart.

But it is odd because with a show like Call the Midwife, where people quite often can be going through quite traumatic scenarios—people lose babies, or people find out they're sick—and your natural reaction and instinct is to hold someone or hold their hand or have some form of contact. I'm a very tactile person in general, so COVID has really screwed me over in that sense. But in situations like that, you go, "Oh, I'm so frustrated because I don't feel like I'm necessarily able to do all of what I want to do." But you've just got to find another way of getting that emotion across to people.

This season has already come out in the UK. Tell me about the reaction.

It's been really lovely. Lots of young women have reached out to me saying how much they love the character—and a lot of Irish midwives as well, which has been really lovely, because so many Irish women did go over [to England] around that time, and midwifery was often a field that they went into.

But it's hilarious. People make fan videos where it has songs in the background and it switches to another picture. And I remember someone sent me one and I was like, "Oh my god, what's going on?" Hilarious. I send them all to my mum and dad, and they think it's hysterical.

But you try not to read too much, because there's no doubt in my mind that there will be people out there who possibly don't like the character, or me, but that's the way it is. But I've been very lucky to see lots of positive things. But I don't know how she'll come across in America. Whenever I've been to America, people are always like, "We love the Irish," so I'm hoping that plays for me.

Can you share anything about season 11 or this year’s Christmas special?

It was my first Christmas special, and I'm going to be so tight-lipped, because I'll end up saying something and it'll get in trouble. But I loved filming the Christmas special. We film it in April, which seems baffling because it's gorgeous outside and then we're all like, "Ooh, it's so cold." And I just loved the fake snow. I'm very easily amused in that sense. But filming the Christmas special was really, really beautiful.

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