RESIDENTS in a town used for the BBC’s hit series Call the Midwife say its posh on-screen portrayal couldn’t be further from reality.
Chatham, in Kent, boasts historic dockyards dating back to the mid-16th Century – complete with period buildings and cobbled roads.
15But the drama is a world away from the reality of crime-stricken Chatham high streetCredit: Peter Jordan15Boarded-up stores litter the once ‘thriving’ high street, which residents say has ‘nothing’ to lure touristsCredit: Peter Jordan15Emma Walsh says she’s seen brawls and doesn’t let her kids go into townCredit: Peter Jordan15Linda Bassett, Helen George and Leonie Elliott star in Call The Midwife, much of which is filmed in ChathamCredit: BBC15Midwives cycle through Chatham dockyard in the hit BBC showCredit: BBCIt forms the perfect backdrop for the show, based on midwives working in London’s East End in the late 1950s and 60s.
But scenes like the Admiral’s House, the maternity hospital in the BBC drama, is a far cry from the crime-stricken reality of the Medway town’s high street – just a mile up the road.
“C**p”, “unsafe” and “full of druggies” were just a few choice words residents coined when asked to describe Chatham.
Grandma Mrs Brown, from nearby Rochester, was waiting for her daughter outside Primark, when she revealed: “There have been fights with knives in the street.
“It’s not a very nice place to come, you feel unsafe here – I wouldn’t come down here on my own late afternoon.”
Her daughter, mum-of-four Emma Walsh, told The Sun Online she has seen brawls with chairs getting flung and doesn’t like her teenage kids coming into town.
The 39-year-old, also from Rochester, explained: “It seems to be where a lot of gangs hang out, no matter what age you are it’s not safe.”
While David Baverstock, 72, from the Princes Park area blasted: “It’s c**p! There is nothing here for anybody, let alone the kids.”
Twelve season Call The Midwife have run since 2012 and boasts Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart and Helen George among its all-star cast.
Brimming with throwback costumes and bucolic scenes of midwives cycling through clothes line hanging streets, filmed in the docks, the drama reflects a radically different world to 21st Century Chatham.
Boarded-up stores litter the once “thriving” high street, which residents say has “nothing” to lure tourists flocking to the docks for film set tours.
Mum-of-one Hope Beard, whose lived in Chatham 30 years, says it should come as no surprise given mobile phone and vape shops are “two a penny”.
‘IT’S A DISASTER’
The Chihuahua owner, whose own son “hates” the town, added: “The docks? definitely. Tourists wouldn’t come here, not at all.”
The comments fly in the face of a £14.4 million Levelling Up cash injection the Government says will “transform Medway into a leading creative destination”.
The money is going into artistic spaces, including dance studios, across the area.
In the carpark of Wickes building merchants, pals Brian Egan and Chris Scammell were loading cement into their car to do up the former’s house.
Brian, 76, who briefly worked in the docks before its 1984 closure, said: “No-one in their right mind goes into the middle of Chatham. It’s grotty. It is a disaster.”
Chris Scammell said his dad and uncle were employed in the docks before it shut, adding: “Now it’s just a general decline in everything.”
At The Thomas Waghorn Wetherspoons pub, Sammy Pearmain, mum Caz and mate Jamie-Lea Harding were having a catch up.
There ain’t no ‘Garden of England’ around hereCaz Pearmain, resident
Sammy Pearmain, a 27-year-old mum of three, from Rochester, said Chatham was “full of druggies” while Caz blasted it as “the worst part of Kent”.
“There ain’t no ‘Garden of England’ around here”, she added, referencing the county’s motto.
But NHS community nurse Bissy couldn’t be more proud to live in Chatham, praising it for having “everything you need”.
The mum, who’s lived in a flat on the high street for three years, said: “It’s not that bad, nothing has happened to my flat, it has been a very peaceful place for me.”
The positive reviews continue down in the docks where Francis Kelly has lived “peacefully” for 20 years surrounded by history.
Speaking over the hum-drum of Steve McQueen’s film crew as they shoot upcoming WW2 flick ‘Blitz’, she said to live amongst the “hustle and bustle” of cinema is “fantastic”..
The 71-year-old added: “Every now and then King Charles comes and visits and we have the opportunity to meet him.”
The same sentiment was echoed by Rob Dunsmore, 76, who enjoys the annual 1940s weekend at Chatham Historic Dockyard.
“If you move here, you know what you’re buying into so it’s sort of your own fault if the film stuff bothers you”, he said.
15Hope Beard has lived in Chatham 30 years says it should come as no surprise no one visits the areaCredit: Peter Jordan15Sammy Pearmain, mum Caz and pal Jaime-Lea Harding were not positive about ChathamCredit: Peter Jordan15David Baverstock blasted Chatham as ‘c**p’Credit: Peter Jordan15Grandma Mrs Brown said there have been fights with knives in Chatham high streetCredit: Peter Jordan15NHS community nurse Bissy couldn’t be more proud to live in ChathamCredit: Peter Jordan15Chris Scammell said Chatham is in ‘general decline’Credit: Peter Jordan15The dockyard’s Admiral’s House is the maternity hospital in the BBC dramaCredit: Peter Jordan15Francis Kelly has lived ‘peacefully’ for 20 years surrounded by historyCredit: Peter Jordan15Rob Dunsmore, 76, says you know what you’re getting into when you move to the docksCredit: Peter Jordan15The docks were hosting a film crew who were shooting Steve McQueen’s new war drama ‘Blitz’Credit: Peter Jordan
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk