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Charlie’s rescue is a top trick to follow

Call the Midwife star Helen George became a dog owner by accident, but now her Jack Russell, Charlie, is her biggest fan. The feeling is mutual…

Charlie is a proper rescue dog. I was in north London when I spotted him. He was a dirty bundle of fur cowering underneath a car. He was covered in fleas and had tar all down his back legs. It turned out he was living in a plant pot, surviving on old takeaways. I took him home and the plan was to trace his owners, but they never came forward and he ended up staying.

I’d encourage anyone to get a rescue dog. There’s something about them — they are eternally grateful. It’s as if they know what you have done for them.

Having a dog has made me more organised and less selfish — I have to put Charlie’s needs first. I don’t have children, but I’ve become more motherly thanks to being around him.


I like Charlie to enjoy nature, and I make sure he gets plenty of time running off the lead. I think it’s important he has his own space. That said, I don’t leave him alone for more than four hours.

My days of exotic holidays are gone. I’d rather choose somewhere Charlie can come too. I do lots of walking around Britain, and we both love going to the beach.

I’m lucky because Call the Midwife is very dog-friendly. Loads of the cast bring dogs into work. Charlie has even made it into the odd episode.

He’s very sociable and he’s got a sweet temperament. He loves a bit of cheese, but he never steals it. In fact, his only problem is terrible wind. Recently, I was approached about a play. We all went for lunch: my agent, the producer and all the important people. Within five minutes, Charlie had cleared the room. People who didn’t even smoke pretended they needed to go for a cigarette.

He loves attention on set and he’s got quite starry. People don’t even say ‘Good morning’ to me, they go straight to Charlie. He hangs out in my trailer and jumps on the laps of guest stars when he can.


Linda Bassett, who plays nurse Phyllis Crane, has a beautiful Romanian rescue dog called Dusty. Miranda Hart’s dog, Peggy, has a lovely strong personality and rules the roost. But his arch enemy is Freddie, Judy Parfitt’s toy poodle. We have to keep them apart. It’s dog politics.

Charlie loves getting out of London. We recently went to Skye — it blew his mind. It was like landing on Mars. He especially loves the beach and he’s like a different dog exploring everything. I’ll look up and he’ll be chasing seagulls, or chewing on a bit of seaweed.

He’s not a fan of water, though he’s got brave enough to chase the waves a little. I’ve started chucking him in. He fell into the pond at Hampstead Heath once and it made me aware of how important it is that he can swim. He’s getting more comfortable all the time. It’s typical Charlie, always ready to give things a go. He’s brilliant — and I’m very proud of him.”

Helen’s top coastal walks

Salcombe, Devon: Strenuous, but with rewarding harbour views.

Broadstairs, Kent: Award-winning beaches and striking chalk cliffs.

Sand Bay, Somerset: A sweeping beach with glimpses of Wales.

Talisker Bay, Isle of Skye: Visit the whisky distillery after a bracing stroll on this wild, sandy bay.

Charlie’s rescue is a top trick to follow