‘Call the Midwife’ Christmas Special Features Youth with Down Syndrome Breaking a Record

The popular UK show, ‘Call the Midwife,’ has become a fan favorite for its heart-warming Christmas specials and season nine’s special was no different. The Christmas-inspired episode this year featured character Reggie Jackson attempting to beat a Guinness World Record by creating the longest paper chain in the world.

Reggie is a member of the youth group on the show and also has Down syndrome. Played by actor Daniel Laurie, Reggie wants to link the community together when he misses his family back home. He stays with the Glasshouse Trust, a community center that supports children and adults with a range of disabilities.

In the episode, it is revealed that Reggie enjoys making paper chains. When Miss Higgins discovered his dream of breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest paper chain, she and the other nuns and nurses relied on the help from all of Poplar to make his dream a reality.

The theme both literally and metaphorically brought the entire town together as Reggie relied on countless people to help make his ultimate paper chain. It not only “linked” the nurses and nuns of the Outer Hebrides, but it also connected the show’s regulars to other families in the community.

The true beauty of this episode leans on Reggie as a character. While many television characters who have Down syndrome or another disability are often the butt of a joke or a minor character, Reggie is a fully fleshed-out character. He has a great sense of humor, talents in the garden, high hopes and dreams, and a sad back story that makes his ambition all the more admirable. And it is only thanks to his lofty dreams that the entire community rallied together to make a Christmas miracle come to life.

Some posit that Reggie’s character is so great because the show’s screenwriter, Heidi Thomas, had a brother with Down syndrome. Babies with Down syndrome are more common among older mothers who are over the age of 35. While some children with Down syndrome pass away at a young age, like Thomas’s brother who died at age 15 because of his disability, more and more people with Down syndrome are living healthy, long lives.

Daniel Laurie, Reggie’s actor, was also moved by the scene in the Christmas episode.

“The paper chains scene was amazing,” he said, as reported by the Radio Times. “I got help from Miss Higgins… Miss Higgins had this love and support for Reggie, for doing the paper chains.”

It’s thanks to shows like this that prove differently-abled individuals deserve more recognition on the small screen and silver screen alike. These shows can reveal what Down syndrome looks like to countless viewers so more and more people learn about Down syndrome.