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Douglas Roberts is the husband of Ruby Roberts and their two daughters. When his third child, the hoped for son, turns out to have spina bifida it is up to Douglas to keep the family afloat.

Overview[]

Douglas is first seen playing cards with Fred Buckle discussing the amount of brylcreem teenage boys wear those days, his wife Ruby is nine months pregnant and almost ready to give birth and he is sure after two girls it’s time for a boy. They then have a little bet on that, despite according to him saving up to get them out of Poplar.

That night, Ruby and her husband go to bed, and Ruby remarks that this baby doesn't move like the others. Douglas is not concerned and says the baby is too laid back to put up a fuss and squirm around all the time. Ruby and Douglas settle down and are shown to be mutually in love, and Ruby says she was a lucky girl to land him.

Ruby soon after goes into labour and Douglas rushes to Nonnatus House where Jenny agrees to come over but Sister Evangelina (of whom Douglas is one of the few men she gets along with) decides she will deliver the baby and Jenny can assist. The two midwives help tend to her during the labour while Douglas waits downstairs. The baby is born and Douglas is eager to meet the child who as it turns out is a son as predicted and brings up a drink. Though he is kicked out later on.

Ruby listens to her baby coo as Sister Evangelina dresses a wound on his back, and she says she loves that sound. When she sees Nurse Lee sniffle, and when the nurse asks her if she'd like some water, Ruby realizes something is wrong with her son. She sits up and demands to know, and as the sister holds the newborn, she says the baby has had "complications" and that there's a "problem with his back". Nurse Lee rings for the doctor.

Dr Turner arrives and explains to the confused and heartbroken parents that the baby has hydrochephalus, "water on the brain", that was caused by the break in the spinal cord. Sister Evangelina continues to cradle the baby, as neither parent seems to be able to, or want to. The newborn is then transferred to the London Hospital.

The baby spends a few days at the London and Ruby goes into a state of despair. Douglas, being a man of his time, is rather inept at household jobs like cooking leading to Nurse Jenny to spend more time taking care of the little girls. The baby is soon released home as he is doing well, when he comes back the two little girls comment on his legs. Ruby can hardly cope and blames herself for the spina bifida and spends most of her time in her room refusing to bond with their son, and Douglas was very frustrated and hurt by the babies condition. Jenny suggests taking the baby in the pram but Douglas says men don’t push the pram. He also laments the fact both his and Ruby’s mothers are dead and would have helped.

When Jenny and her colleague Jane go to St Gideons home, Jenny gets the idea that the Roberts baby could go and live there. Either way she is more involved in the life of the baby than either parent. Douglas struggles immensely and begins getting drunk and picking fights and says “she’s turned her back on my flesh and blood”. The parents end up visiting St Gideons but Ruby can’t get out of the car, so only Douglas goes and meets Jacob, a boy affected by cerebral palsy who he shares a joke with. He asks Jacob what it’s like and Jacob says there’s a biscuit factory and they get the broken ones. Douglas then decides to take the biggest gamble of his life and manages to make Ruby think it was her idea to keep the baby.

Back at their home, with the baby in the cradle, Douglas hurriedly packs the baby's clothes. Ruby seems to be uncomfortable, and says that Jenny was helping them, to which Douglas replies "she can't do that forever". As he prepares to go out the door, he tells Ruby to grab "it" meaning the baby. Ruby looks down in the cradle and lets her son grab her finger for the first time. Quietly, she says "He's not an 'it'. He's not an 'it'. He's a baby". When Douglas cheekily asks "yeah?" she snaps back "Yeah. He's my baby boy. How could you think of sending him away?" She then picks up the baby for the first time.

She informs them Douglas Jr is going nowhere, they are next seen pushing the baby around in the pram and meet Fred who pays Douglas the money on the gamble. Ruby then tells Fred he’s off the gambling. According to Jenny the Roberts baby defied all odds and thrived.

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