Oh, Patrick!

Dr. Turner From Call The Midwife Is The Hottest TV Doctor

The show’s trusted GP is the blueprint for a man who listens and leads with compassion.

As a longtime Grey’s Anatomy fan, I went through the motions of a requisite crush on Derek Shepherd, the “Sexiest Man Alive” neurosurgeon with a $2-million-a-year-hand and the ego to go with it. But these days, I find myself yearning for a different tall, dark-haired doctor: Dr. Patrick Turner from Call the Midwife.

Played by Stephen McGann, Dr. Turner works with the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House on BBC’s beloved mid-century period drama. (For U.S. viewers, Season 13 premiered on March 17 on PBS.)

I’m not alone in my crush. Many new fans are finding Call the Midwife on TikTok, where viral clips of the show regularly grace people’s feeds, whetting appetites for the hottest and kindest on-screen M.D. — whether he’s beaming at a mom post-delivery (“A bonny little boy!”) or reassuring the families of London’s East End with soulful attention.

Under one such video, a comment thread sums it up best. “I wish more doctors would be like Dr. Turner,” wrote one user. Another replied, “More MEN like Dr. Turner.”

McGann, for his part, is touched by the reception — even if he has to laugh at himself a little first.

BBC/Neal Street Productions/Olly Courtenay

“I’m 61 years old now, and it’s so sweet that what people [say] is more than Oh, I want to rip your trousers off,” McGann tells Bustle over Zoom. “It’s not like that.” He’s more proud that people love Turner’s warm, gentle demeanor. “I’ve never played anybody so basically decent, or like most people out there.”

Turner, who begins the series as a widowed dad, is the respectful king of pent-up longing. For example, when patching up the hand of budding love interest Sister Bernadette in Season 2, he kisses her palm with more tender affection than should be physically possible — but she pulls away, citing her faith. “And if I didn’t accept that, I wouldn’t deserve to live,” Turner says in the tension-filled moment. Whew.


There’s a quiet steadiness to Turner. He isn’t some wizard surgeon or genius diagnostician. Even when he’s scared, unsure, or can only offer a sympathetic, “Oh, you poor thing,” he unfailingly recognizes people’s pain. If that translates to boyfriend material, well, McGann gets it.

“There’s a pining for the hand to hold,” says McGann, who previously starred in Emmerdale and was getting his master’s in science communication when Call the Midwife started. “You want somebody to be there to actually go, You’ve got my attention. What’s really wrong? Are you OK? That’s where love often grows.”

The doctor-ing itself is almost secondary.

If Turner sounds like the platonic ideal of the man-written-by-a-woman genre, it’s because he is. McGann’s wife of more than 30 years, Heidi Thomas, created Call the Midwife based on Jennifer Worth’s memoirs. “An actor and writer’s life on TV shouldn’t work like this,” McGann says of the family business. “But it has. It’s just been the most beautiful thing.”


The effusive way McGann talks about his wife — her gift for the slow burn, and how she deftly layers historical grit with feel-good scenes — underscores how much love is built into this show. And Call the Midwife’s doctor isn’t just fun to watch; he can also change viewers’ thoughts about their own care.

In an essay on Medium, writer Amy Greenlee imagined Turner as a real-life physician, which ran counter to some of her previous medical experiences. The doctor who delivered her second child “didn’t say a single word” to her during childbirth, she tells Bustle.

“Watching these [fictional] patients be so cared for helps you realize, Yeah, that was not OK,” she tells Bustle — praising the way Turner is “always showing up as a whole person.”

BBC/Neal Street Productions/Olly Courtenay

I think back to a hilarious Season 6 moment, in which the Nonnatus team discusses the Board of Health’s intention to limit their work. “Shutting maternity homes across the country? Whatever next? Only a man could think it’s a good idea,” Nurse Phyllis Crane frets, before making an apologetic gesture to the one man sitting at the table. Sorry, not you!

But Turner takes it in stride with a quick, knowing nod. This is a man who’s dedicated his personal and professional life to uplifting the women around him — there’s no ego to be bruised here. “This is the most important job I’ve ever done, because it’s about compassion. And it’s about care,” McGann says. “And why not like the kind people on TV? It’s an overrated virtue to be a bad boy.”