The BBC said Wednesday that it has ordered three more seasons of hit drama Call The Midwife for flagship channel BBC One.
Seasons seven to nine were commissioned by Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, and Piers Wenger, director of BBC drama commissioning. Each season will consist of eight hourlong episodes and a holiday special. The order will take the nuns and midwives featured in the show, which in the U.S. has aired on PBS, into the mid-1960s.
The three-year renewal comes as some U.K. industry watchers have predicted more multiseason show orders amid competition for popular series from Netflix and other digital players. For example, Britain's Channel 4 lost its hit show Black Mirror to Netflix this year.
Made by Sam Mendes' Neal Street Productions, Call the Midwife, which debuted in 2012, has been the most-watched drama series in the U.K., the BBC said. All seasons have seen "near or over 10 million viewers per episode," the public broadcaster said. "The series has been praised for its compassionate and bold approach to issues including stillbirth, mental health, abortion, homosexuality, race and disability."
Said Pippa Harris, executive producer for Neal Street: "Like a truly supportive parent, the BBC has nurtured our series from conception onwards, and this exceptional three-series commission further demonstrates their care and commitment."
Said Moore: "I'm privileged to have Britain's most popular drama series on BBC One, and this new three-[season] commission underlines our commitment to the show."
Heidi Thomas, creator, writer and executive producer of the show, said: "I am hugely excited by the prospect of creating three more [seasons] of Call the Midwife. In the 1960s, Britain was a country fizzing with change and challenge, and there is so much rich material - medical, social, and emotional - to be explored. We have now delivered well over one hundred babies on screen, and like those babies, the stories keep on coming!"
Season six will start in early 2017.