PBS announced today that a special holiday episode of the critically acclaimed British drama Call the Midwife will air Sunday, December 30, 2012, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS.

Call the Midwife Holiday Special will pave the way for Season 2 of the hit drama, which returns to PBS beginning March 31 for a full run.

As the nurses, nuns and community members come together this holiday season, nothing rings more true in Poplar than the virtues of charity and hope. In the special, the holidays are swiftly approaching and the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House are busier than ever. When a young girl gives birth in secret and leaves the baby on the steps of Nonnatus House, the nurses pull together with the community to care for the newborn and find his mother. Meanwhile, Nurse Jenny Lee looks after Mrs. Jenkins, an elderly vagrant who has lost everything. And newly married Chummy spreads holiday cheer, bringing the children of Poplar together for a nativity play to remember.

Written by Heidi Thomas (Cranford, Upstairs, Downstairs) and directed by Philippa Lowthorpe (Five Daughters) and Jamie Payne (The Hour), Call the Midwife completed its first season in the U.S. in early November. In its UK debut, the series attracted 10.7 million viewers for its peak episode, making it the highest-rated BBC new drama launch on record; audiences and critics in the U.S. were equally effusive, with the Washington Post hailing it "absorbing and inspiring" and the Los Angeles Times saying it is "lovely and engaging." TV Guide simply proclaimed it a "keeper."

Call the Midwife is a Neal Street production for BBC. Executive produced by Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road, The Hollow Crown) and Heidi Thomas, the series is produced by Hugh Warren (Survivors).

Based on the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife is a moving and intimate story of midwifery in London's East End in the 1950s. The first season followed a young Jenny Lee as she and her fellow midwives, attached to an order of nursing nuns, navigated life on the crowded streets of East End London.

Call the Midwife stars Jessica Raine as Jenny Lee, along with Jenny Agutter (The Railway Children, Spooks) as Sister Julienne, Pam Ferris (Little Dorrit, The Darling Buds of May) as Sister Evangelina, Miranda Hart ("Miranda") as Chummy, Judy Parfitt (Little Dorrit, Girl with a Pearl Earring) as Sister Monica Joan, Helen George (Hollyoaks, Doctors) as Trixie Franklin, Bryony Hannah (Cemetery Junction) as Cynthia Miller, Laura Main (Monarch of the Glen) as Sister Bernadette and Cliff Parisi (EastEnders) as Fred. Vanessa Redgrave provides the voice of the mature Jennifer.

Call the Midwife Holiday Special will be available for viewing on the PBS Video Portal for 30 days after national broadcast.