Summer Series on NPT Include Mysteries and ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Favorite characters and series return for the summer season on NPT, including the much-anticipated Prime Suspect: Tennison on Masterpiece and Grantchester on Masterpiece. In addition to mysteries and Sunday night dramas, there’s mystery and drama on The Great British Baking Show, back for a fourth season.


Sam Reid as DI Bradfield, Stefanie Martini as Jane Tennison and Blake Harrison as DS Gibbs in Prime Suspect: Tennison. Credit: Courtesy of ITV Studios and NoHo Film & Television for ITV and MASTERPIECE

Prime Suspect: Tennison, the three-part prequel to the popular PBS Mystery series starring Helen Mirren, premieres Sunday, June 25, at 9 p.m. This new series retains the dark feel of the original with a nod to the gritty disillusionment of 1970s London as it chronicles Jane’s experience as a young policewoman coping with blatant sexism at work while rebelling against her family’s expectations. Stefani Martini stars as the determined young copper and Alun Armstrong portrays a criminal kingpin in a story based on a book by Prime Suspect originator Lynda La Plante.

Grantchester on Masterpiece airs Sundays at 8 p.m. through July 30. Red-haired, jazz-loving vicar Sidney Chambers (James Norton) and world-wise Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) continue their crime-solving bromance in the third season. Click here to get up to speed on the storyline. The previous two seasons are also available for streaming on NPT Passport.



War and peacetime

My Mother and Other Strangers on Masterpiece airs Sundays at 7 p.m. through July 16. Though a drama about the interaction of a large military force and a small World War II home front community may seem well-trodden premise, this series has a twist as it is set in Northern Ireland. At the center of the story is Englishwoman Rose Coyne (Hattie Morahan), who is raising two daughters and a son with her Northern Irish husband. Her life is upended by the war and the arrival of a U.S. Army Air Force base and its 4,000 serving men and women.



Fans of Downton Abbey will want to give Australian drama A Place to Call Home a try. The series premieres on NPT Saturdays at 8 and 9:15 p.m. beginning June 24 and revolves around Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp), a nurse who returns to her native Australia full of secrets from her wartime experiences.


Icing on the cake

“Great British Baking Show” judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, with hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc. Credit: Courtesy of Mark Bourdillon, © Love Productions

Cooking competition shows are all over the menu and the television schedule, but none come close to the class and panache of The Great British Baking Show. Maybe it’s the splendid spectrum of British accents, Mary Berry’s impeccable glamour, and the hosts’ groan-inducing puns that make the show so compelling. This season is certainly no mere confection, the challenges (30 total) are difficult, and deflated soufflés and egos are sure to follow. Season 4 airs Fridays at 8 p.m. through Aug. 4; Masterclass episodes will air some weeks (check our programming schedule for details). If you crave more, stream the previous three previous seasons, the masterclasses, and all of Season 4 on your favorite devices via NPT Passport.

NPT’s ‘Cheekwood: A Masterpiece by Man & Nature’ Premieres Thursday, June 22

Cheekwood reopened last week following renovations to return the house and gardens to their original splendor. NPT’s original documentary, Cheekwood: A Masterpiece by Man & Nature, ventures behind the scenes for an in-depth look at the mansion and grounds. The 30-minute program premieres Thursday, June 22, at 8 p.m., and includes sweeping aerial views of the estate; original sketches by Cheekwood’s architect, Bryant Fleming; and footage of the Cheek family’s 1920s tours of Europe.



Cheekwood was built between 1929 to 1932 by Leslie and Mabel Cheek, as a house designed to look old though it featured innovative engineering. Today the estate survives as one of the few complete examples of the American Country Place Era, a magnificent blend of architecture, landscape and interior design. Cheekwood: A Masterpiece by Man & Nature illuminates the estate’s genesis in European aspirations that resulted in a uniquely American architectural movement.

The documentary also analyzes the inspired aesthetic of Bryant Fleming, an architect who specialized in creating environments that seamlessly blended architecture and nature.

“Even though there were changes that had happened to accommodate the new uses, the seven-acre core of that property was as the Cheeks and Fleming had imagined it,” Charles A. Birnbaum, President and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, says in the documentary. “We should never take that for granted, because it is a rare place where house and garden still survive today of that era where you can understand what it might have been like to live during that time.”

Others appearing in the film are Jane MacLeod, Cheekwood’s President & CEO; Leslie Jones, Cheekwood’s Senior Vice President of Museum Affairs & Curator of Decorative Arts; architectural historian Hugh Howard; Carroll Van West, director of MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation; Carole Bucy, Davidson County Historian and Professor of History, Volunteer State Community College; and author Gayle Knight (Bryant Fleming, Landscape Architect: Residential Designs, 1905-1935).

Additional broadcast times for Cheekwood: A Masterpiece by Man & Nature are below; the documentary will also be available for online viewing on our website,

  • Monday, June 26, at 8 a.m. on NPT2
  • Tuesday, June 27, at 1 p.m. on NPT2
  • Saturday, July 22, at 5 p.m. on NPT2
  • Sunday, July 23, at 1 p.m. on NPT2


Cheekwood: A Masterpiece by Man & Nature was produced by filmmaker Mary Makley, whose most recent documentary for NPT was Aging Matters: Living with Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Makley was also executive producer and producer of NPT’s award-winning Children’s Health Crisis documentary series.

NPT’s Cheekwood: A Masterpiece by Man & Nature is made possible by the generous support of Mrs. Lillian ‘Tooty’ Bradford; Carlene Lebous and Harris Haston; Tricia and William Hastings; and Linde and Blair Wilson.

NPT’s Kids Programming Summer Schedule; 24-Hour Kids Channel Coming Soon

Nature Cat: Ocean Commotion

Good news for the younger set! NPT’s summer lineup of children’s programming includes back-to-back episodes of favorites like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Splash and Bubbles, Wild Kratts and Odd Squad. There will also be new episodes and adventures throughout the summer. Please see our complete kids programming below.



If some of your household’s favorite shows have gone missing, don’t worry: many of them are streaming online via the free PBS Kids 24/7 Channel available at

NPT is also pleased to announce that beginning this summer we will offer the 24-hour PBS Kids Channel on-air. NPT3, our third broadcast channel, is being made possible through the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and The Frist Foundation. More details and a launch date are coming soon – stay tuned!

Here’s our updated weekday schedule of children’s programs:

6:00     Ready Jet Go!

6:30     Wild Kratts

7:00     Thomas & Friends

7:30     Curious George

8:00     Curious George

8:30     Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

9:00     Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

9:30     Splash and Bubbles

10:00   Splash and Bubbles

10:30   Sesame Street

11:00   Sesame Street

11:30   Super Why!

12:00   pm Peg + Cat

12:30   Dinosaur Train

1:00     Ready Jet Go!

1:30     Bob the Builder

2:00     Nature Cat

2:30     Wild Kratts

3:00     Wild Kratts

3:30     Odd Squad

4:00     Odd Squad

4:30     Arthur

5:00     Arthur

5:30     Martha Speaks

There are also changes coming to our weekend schedule of children’s programs. As of June 24, those lineups will be:


5:00     am Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

5:30     Thomas & Friends

6:00     Bob the Builder

6:30     Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

7:00     Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

7:30     Splash and Bubbles

8:00     Curious George

8:30     Nature Cat


5:00     am Sid the Science Kid

5:30     Cyberchase

6:00     Sesame Street

6:30     Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

7:00     Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

7:30     Cat in the Hat

8:00     Curious George

8:30     Nature Cat


Please find our complete programming schedule at

NPT’s Appraisal Day 2017 is June 24 at the Factory at Franklin

NPT’s Appraisal Day 2017 is coming up Saturday, June 24, at the Factory at Franklin. At the event, attendees may have up to three or up to six items appraised by regional experts. See what the Appraisal Day experience is like on Monday, June 5, when Robin Sinclair and Sarah Campbell Drury, two of our Appraisal Day experts, will be live in studio during our 7 p.m. broadcast of Antiques Roadshow.

Appraisal Day will include 22 appraisers ‒ topping last year’s record number ‒ on hand to offer verbal appraisals of your treasures. Acceptable items for assessment include antiques, books, documents, jewelry, militaria, pop culture items, textiles and toys.

Appraisal Day 2016

Tickets are $75 for up to three items; $150 for up to six items and are available for either the morning (9-11 a.m.) or afternoon (1-4 p.m.) session. Tickets are available at Attendees may bring items on their own or team up with friends to reach the three- or six-item total. All proceeds from Appraisal Day directly support NPT’s entertaining and educational programming for the entire Middle Tennessee community.

NPT’s Appraisal Day is a family-friendly event that brings together people of many generations to learn about their forebears as they learn about their treasures. At last year’s event, a Mt. Juliet woman learned that paintings by her grandfather, Texas landscape artist Everett Spruce, had monetary as well as sentimental value. Each painting was assessed at between $6,000 and $16,000. Some treasures are lucky finds rather than family heirlooms, such as the 19th-century Polynesian carving a couple purchased for $20 and used as part of the family’s Tiki-style pool décor. They gained new appreciation for the sculpture after it was assessed at $5,000 to $8,000.

Appraisers expected to attend Appraisal Day 2017:

  • David Case | Case Antiques Inc., Auctions & Appraisals | Knoxville
  • John Case | Case Antiques Inc., Auctions & Appraisals | Knoxville
  • Mary Jo Case | Case Antiques Inc., Auctions & Appraisals | Knoxville
  • Charlie Clements | Clements Antiques | Chattanooga
  • Chas Clements | Clements Antiques | Chattanooga
  • Mike Cotter | Back in Time Rare Books/Back in Time Appraisals | Jacksonville, FL
  • Mel Covington |Berenice Denton Estate Sales & Appraisals | Nashville
  • Bob Craig | Knoxville Gold Buyers | Knoxville
  • Berenice Denton |Berenice Denton Estate Sales & Appraisals | Nashville
  • Len De Rohan | Case Antiques Inc., Auctions & Appraisals | Knoxville
  • Sarah Campbell Drury | Case Antiques Inc., Auctions & Appraisals | Nashville
  • Julie Walton Garland | Walton’s Antique Jewelry | Franklin
  • Michael Higgins | Antique Indian Art | Tucson, Ariz.
  • Sam Holden | Pickle Road Appraisers | Nashville
  • Selma Paul | Selma Paul Appraisal & Liquidations Services |Atlanta
  • Felix Perry | Corduroy House Antiques | Nashville
  • Marcey Ramos | Phoenix Collaborations | Hermitage
  • (Robin) Sinclair, Ph.D. | Sinclair Appraisals | Nashville
  • Joe Spann | Gruhn Guitars | Nashville
  • J.T. Thompson | Lotz House | Franklin
  • Mike Walton | Walton’s Antique Jewelry | Franklin
  • Wray Williams | Case Antiques Inc., Auctions & Appraisals | Nashville


For more information about Appraisal Day, including acceptable items and ticketing options, please click here.

J.T. Thompson of Lotz House Civil War Museum in Franklin at the 2016 Appraisal Day

Please note: Firearms must be unloaded and disarmed. Please no arrowheads, burial material, Pre-Columbian items, ammunition or items that cannot be easily transported by one person. For furniture, clear and in-focus photographs of large items are acceptable and should include one showing the size or scale of the item and one offering an overall view. Additional photographs should show close-ups of details such as signatures or maker’s marks, the inside of a drawer, and/or any damaged areas, etc.

NPT’s ‘Next Door Neighbors: Belonging’ Premieres Tuesday, May 30

Belonging, the 10th documentary in NPT’s Next Door Neighbors series, premieres Tuesday, May 30, at 9:30 p.m. In this edition of Next Door Neighbors, we examine the lives of several Middle Tennesseans who grapple with what it means to belong, to be foreign-born and still fit into American culture. How do experiences of acceptance and rejection shape our worldview and define our quality of life? From Syrian Americans living in Murfreesboro to a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient originally from Mexico, Belonging shares the experiences of immigrants in a world where rules and attitudes are constantly changing.



The first story is that of Mazen Alkhiyami, who came to Middle Tennessee four decades ago as a college student and has made his home here. “I am proud to be Syrian and Muslim and American at the same time,” Alkhiyami says in the documentary. “I woke up to this world in this country, I came here when I was 18. My kids are from here. I’m from here. I plan to be here for the rest my life.”

Syrian immigrant Abdou Kattih is founder and president of Murfreesboro Muslim Youth, a community service organization. He came to the U.S. to join his parents in Chattanooga, then moved to Middle Tennessee to work as a pharmacist. His story is among those told in the second segment of Belonging.

Beginning in 2011, the civil war in Syria led to a refugee crisis with civilians fleeing the fight between government forces, various rebel factions and ISIS fighters. By the end of 2016, there were nearly 5 million registered Syrian refugees, 18,000 of whom were resettled in the U.S., with fewer than 400 coming to Tennessee. “No Syrian is unaffected by this conflict, but I wanted to tell the story through a different lens,” said Belonging’s producer Shawn Anfinson.

Finally, Karla is a woman in her mid-20s who grew up much as any American child would. After being brought to the U.S. from Mexico as a child, she attended kindergarten in Nashville and went through the Metro Nashville public school system. Karla grew up with friends who were all Nashville-born. “They were all American; so I felt like I was one of them,” Karla says in Belonging. It was only when she began applying to colleges that she learned she was an undocumented immigrant. She now finds herself in a precarious situation despite 2012’s DACA policy.

NPT’s Next Door Neighbors: Belonging is made possible by the generous support of The Nissan Foundation.

Additional broadcast times for Next Door Neighbors: Belonging are below; the documentary will also be available for online viewing at

  • Thursday, June 1, at 9:30 a.m. on NPT2
  • Friday, June 2, at 2:30 p.m. on NPT2

For our full programming schedule, please go to

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 8

Olivia Darnley as Wilma Goddens, Matthew Wilson as Trevor Goddens. Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2016

Call the Midwife is back for a sixth season Sundays at 7 p.m., through May 21. Read the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing guest blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

By Bethany Domzal Sanders
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Many of us watching the Season 6 finale of Call the Midwife were not alive during a time when birth control was either unavailable, taboo or restricted to married women. These days advertisements for intrauterine systems appear in women’s and parenting magazines and Planned Parenthood is frequently mentioned in the press. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2014, more than 60 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 used some form of birth control. So it may be hard to appreciate what women like this episode’s Wilma Goddens (Olivia Darnley) felt when they received their first pack of oral contraceptive pills.

Birth control pills first became available in the United States in 1961, but only to married women. The first marketed birth control pill contained 75 micrograms of synthetic estrogen and 10 milligrams of synthetic progestin. Not long after the introduction of the pill, reports of women with venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke – conditions all related to blood clots – began to surface. Researchers and scientists came to realize that the hormones in birth control pills, particularly the estrogen, induced prothrombotic changes; that is, changes to clotting factors that can promote the formation of blood clots. Drug companies worked to create newer versions of birth control pills with lowered estrogen doses.

Currently women have an array of hormonal contraceptive options from which to choose. Pills with estrogen as low as 10 micrograms and several different types of progestins; pills without any estrogen; the patch; the shot; the ring; an implantable rod; and intrauterine devices with and without hormones are all available by prescription to women regardless of their marital status. These options allow women to work with their health care providers to try to match their unique needs to an effective form of birth control with the fewest possible side effects for them.

Despite advances in formulations and newer delivery systems, there are still side effects to hormonal birth control. The risks of blood clots for women using hormonal birth control remains higher at approximately 1 in 1,000 compared to women not on hormonal birth control at approximately 1 in 5,000. (It is also important to note that the risk of a blood clot during pregnancy is much higher than the risk of one from using hormonal birth control.) Women who are prescribed hormonal birth control should be counseled about the warning signs and symptoms of blood clots and should also be screened for smoking and hypertension, as this can also increase the risk of blood clots.

Women experiencing signs or symptoms should notify their health care provider. An easy way to remember what to look for is the acronym ACHES:

A: abdominal pain
C: chest pain
H: headaches
E: eye problems
S: severe leg pain

While we don’t live in an era where birth control pills are available over the counter (at least not in the United States) as Nurse Trixie (Helen George) first wished for, we are fortunate to have a variety of choices. As midwives, we strive to empower women to make educated decisions about their own bodies and health care. Sadly, this season of Call the Midwife showed us the consequences of unknown risk, whether with thalidomide prescribed to combat nausea or early-generation birth control pills. Season 6 also showed us hope, though, with new babies, new midwives and new relationships. The 1960s keep marching on in Poplar, and I’m only too happy to be along for the ride.

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.

Feast on These Shows About Food and Famous Chefs

We’re serving up a selection of delicious programming over the next few weeks, including new American Masters profiles of television chefs James Beard and Jacques Pépin, airing 8 p.m. Fridays, May 19 and 25. If these show whet your appetite, remember to sample our full buffet of cooking shows, Saturday afternoons on NPT and Wednesday evenings on NPT2. See our complete programming schedule at Bon appetit!

Here’s the full menu of foodie shows:

Food – Delicious Science on Wednesdays, May 17 – 31, at 9 p.m.
Hosts Michael Mosley and James Wong travel the world to explore how chemistry, physics and biology determine how food tastes, why we hunger for certain foods and how we react to food. Dr. Mosely is a physician and a documentarian interested in dietary science, while Wong is a botanist whose passion for plants and their uses stems from his childhood in the jungles of Borneo.

The three-part Food – Delicious Science begins with “Food on the Brain” (May 17) about the energy required to run our brains and how this organ creates cravings for salt, caffeine, fat and other ingredients. Next is “A Matter of Taste” (May 25), which explores how we experience the five tastes — sweet, sour, salty, bitter and the less well-known “umami” flavors — and their effects on the tongue. In the final episode, “We Are What We Eat” (May 31), Wong and Mosely investigate how our bodies process food to keep us alive.

American Masters: James Beard on Friday, May 19, at 8 p.m.
“America’s First Foodie” profiles chef, cookbook author and journalist James Beard (1903-1985). Beard championed eating locally grown food and thinking about sustainable farming techniques long before those concepts were in vogue. He launched the first television cooking show in 1946 and his name is still associated with awards for food media and cooking.

American Masters: Julia Child on Friday, May 19, at 9 p.m.
An encore presentation ofJulia! America’s Favorite Chef” profiles cultural icon Julia Child (1912-2004) whose kitchen has been re-created in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Chef Paul Prudhomme: Louisiana Legend on Monday, May 22, at 11:30 p.m.
Specializing in Creole and Cajun cuisine, self-trained chef Paul Prudhomme (1940-2015) put Louisiana regional cooking on the menu. This program includes interviews with Prudhomme’s fellow chefs and looks back at his career as a cookbook author, restaurateur and television personality.


American Masters: Jacques Pépin on Friday, May 26, at 8 p.m.
You might never associate French-born chef Jacques Pépin with Howard Johnson’s, but that oh-so American hotel chain is part of his American journey. Learn more about the popular cookbook author and television personality in “The Art of the Craft,” a new American Masters biography.

American Masters: Alice Waters on Friday, May 26, at 9 p.m.
Known for popularizing the local food movement from her famous Chez Panisse restaurant, Alice Waters was on the forefront of a culinary and social movement. “Alice Waters and her Delicious Revolution,” an American Masters encore presentation, shows how Waters influenced the rise of local farmers’ markets and organic gardens.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 7

Liz White as Rhoda Mullucks with baby Susan. Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2016

Call the Midwife is back for a sixth season Sundays at 7 p.m., through May 21. Read the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing guest blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

By Michelle Collins
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

If you are an avid Call the Midwife viewer, you will remember the young family from Season 5 whose child was affected by phocomelia. Phocomelia is a disorder that causes babies to be born with flipper- or stub-like projections in the place of arms and legs. The condition is very rare and can be inherited from the baby’s parents, though historically the most common cause has been maternal ingestion of the drug thalidomide.

After thalidomide became available in the mid-1950s under the brand name Immunoprin, women were advised to take it to ease nausea of pregnancy. Thousands of babies in Europe and the U.S. were born with thalidomide syndrome before the connection between the drug and the birth defect was discovered. About half of all babies born with phocomelia did not survive; those who did had major disabilities.

If there were a silver lining at all to thalidomide tragedy, it was that it led to much more rigorous drug testing in many countries. Prior to that, the appearance of any new drug on the market was unquestionably considered to be a good thing; rigorous pharmaceutical testing was not the norm. Thalidomide, for example, had never even been tested in pregnant animals to ascertain whether it had negative effects on fetuses, let alone used with caution in a small group of humans before being widely recommended during pregnancy.

Individuals with thalidomide-induced phocomelia may also have had deformities of their hearts and eyes (including blindness); gastrointestinal and urinary tract deformity; and deafness. Though physical capacity was affected, mental capacity was not. Just as the child in this episode was turned away from a day care because of the perceived inability for her to be integrated with the “normal” children, thalidomide children were frequently relegated to institutions to live out their lives, often to adulthood.

I wish that I could say that the thalidomide example of harm to the unborn due to inadequate testing prior to widespread recommendation was an isolated historical incident. Unfortunately, it is not. Take, for example, electronic fetal monitoring, a commonly used intervention in childbirth. Most people would assume that electronic fetal monitoring has done much to improve birth outcomes. In actuality, the one large effect has been an increase in cesarean sections, but without the accompanying benefit of improving the health of newborns. By the time sufficient studies on fetal monitoring were completed and it was demonstrated that its widespread use did not adequately predict poor fetal outcomes, it was too late to reel the practice back in.

There is not enough room in this post to discuss all of the birth interventions that do more harm than good, but I’ll leave you with a list of those things to do your homework on if you are expecting:

  • not being allowed to eat and being confined to bed during labor
  • giving birth on your back
  • pushing while holding your breath
  • episiotomy
  • accepting an elective induction of labor without medical reason to do so (this one in particular starts a cascade of interventions)

Knowledge is power!

Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, FACNM, FAAN is a Professor of Nursing and Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

Concert, Documentaries and a Ken Burns Preview to Mark Memorial Day 2017

Maestro Jack Everly and the National Symphony during a National Memorial Day Concert on the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn. Credit: Courtesy of Capital Concerts

NPT will air several programs in observance of Memorial Day, including the live broadcast of the annual National Memorial Day Concert from Washington, D.C. The concert airs Sunday, May 28, at 7 p.m. and will be hosted by actors Laurence Fishburne and Joe Mantegna. This year’s line-up includes retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell; four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Renée Fleming; multi-platinum recording artist and entertainer Vanessa Williams; country music superstar Scotty McCreery; Christopher Jackson (Hamilton, Bull); Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty, Devious Maids); the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly and others.

The following programs will also air this month:

The Last Ring Home on Monday, May 15, at 11:30 p.m.
Lt. Minter Dial’s grandson and namesake spent years unraveling the mystery of Dial’s 1932 Annapolis Naval Academy ring.  The treasured keepsake miraculously made its way home 17 years after Lt. Dial was killed as a POW of the Japanese in WWII.

Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson on Tuesday, May 16, at 11 p.m.
This documentary tells the story of Myron “Pinky” Thompson, a leader in the Native Hawaiian community and veteran of the Normandy invasion in World War II. The film is part of the Pacific Heartbeat series airing Tuesdays through May 30.

Above and Beyond on Thursday, May 18, at 11 p.m.
Former Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun (1920-2011) was involved in one of the most compelling escapes of World War II after his B-17 bomber, Damn Yankee, crashed during a combat mission. This left Sundlun, a Jewish-American, and his crew in the heart of Germany’s industrial Ruhr Valley. His daughter, Kara, retraces his wartime journey.

Canine Soldiers: The Militarization of Love on Thursday, May 25, at 11 p.m.
In wars where the rules of engagement have shifted from traditional combat to the unforeseen and the invisible, highly trained Military Working Dogs are saving soldiers’ lives and giving them comfort, hope and protection. An intimate bond forms between the animals and their handlers – combat soldiers who make life-and-death decisions based on the instincts and behavior of the dogs who lead their patrols.

PBS Previews: The Vietnam War, Sunday, May 28, at 8:30 p.m.
A sneak peek at Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War series coming to PBS this September. The program includes interviews with the filmmakers, behind-the-scenes footage, and exclusive clips from the series.

Farmer/Veteran on Independent Lens, Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m.
After three combat tours in Iraq, Alex Sutton finds a salve for the PTSD he developed through farming. This film by Alix Blair, Jeremy M. Lange, and D.L. Anderson shows Sutton working through lingering trauma while rebuilding his life on 43 acres in rural North Carolina.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 6

Jennifer Kirby as Valerie Dyer, Yusra Warsama as Nadifa. Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2016

Call the Midwife is back for a sixth season Sundays at 7 p.m., through May 21. Read the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing guest blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

By Bethany Domzal Sanders
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

This week’s Call the Midwife episode included the threat of nuclear war, electroshock therapy and female genital mutilation. It was enough to make me reach for the drink dentist Christopher (Jack Hawkins) offered to Trixie (Helen George) near the end of the episode. All joking aside, the issues raised in this episode remain pertinent and serious, particularly that of female genital mutilation.

This practice may also be referred to as cutting or circumcision and, as noted in the episode, it has been around for centuries. Practitioners of FGM often believe this will prepare the girl, typically between the ages of infancy and 15 years old, for adulthood and marriage; ensure premarital virginity; increase marriageability; and uphold tradition. FGM is also thought by some to be necessary for cleanliness, modesty and femininity.

There are currently approximately 200 million women and girls who have been cut, in 30 countries. FGM is most common in parts of Africa and in some areas in the Middle East and Asia. Immigrants from parts of the world where FGM is performed have carried the practice to other countries. There is no religious doctrine that supports FGM, although religious leaders within a community may promote it.

The shock Nurse Valerie Dyer (Jennifer Kirby) experienced upon witnessing the physical and emotional trauma of the mother (Yusra Warsama) in this episode is understandable, as well as her confusion about the mother’s willingness to subject her sister to the same procedure. FGM can be deeply culturally rooted, and the elimination of it depends more upon the decision of the community itself than legal ramifications. A number of international organizations continue to work to raise awareness, support women who have been subjected to FGM and provide evidence-based guidelines to healthcare providers caring for affected women.

I wanted so badly to reach out and grab the children’s anatomy book Nurse Barbara Gilbert (Charlotte Ritchie) was carrying, open it up and teach the mother about her own body so she might be empowered and understand why FGM was not necessary for any medical reason, and in fact poses a very real risk to women’s health.

Since 1997, the World Health Organization has called for an end to FGM, recognizing it as a violation of human rights. The United Nations has also adopted a resolution to eliminate the practice. As recently as last month, a Michigan grand jury indicted three people (two of whom were doctors) for conducting the practice. While FGM has been illegal in the US since 1996, this was the first indictment handed down.

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.