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Ruth Gelin was a minor character in one episode of Call the Midwife. She was played by Julie Legrand

Overview[]

Ruth Gelin was born in Germany. Because she was Jewish, she was forced to flee the country in the 1930's when Adolf Hitler came to power. Emigrating to England, Ruth eventually settled in Poplar, which was to be her home for the rest of her life.

Biography[]

Ruth and her husband Arnold are first seen when Dr Turner is on his rounds, when he pulls up to their house he sees a lot of demolition work going on, a common sight during the 1960s. When in there Ruth explains that the whole street was being demolished, but Ruth isn’t worried as unlike most others in the area who merely rented their property, Ruth and Arnold where owner-occupiers. Arnold meanwhile was busy making tea in the kitchen, she says there’ll be a sheet of ice on it if he didn’t hurry up but Dr Turner says it was as warm as toast. Something she puts down to having an electric fire courtesy of her son Martin who was an eye doctor in Florida. Arnold comes in and Ruth explains he worked as a baker for more than 20 years and she jokes on the day it shut he moved into her kitchen and she’s hardly seen it since. Dr Turner noticed that Ruth coughed throughout the conversation and when she says she went looking for aspirin he wonders if that meant she was in pain.

Dr Turner and Shelagh begin looking at her records after a recent stoma revision and find that she is suffering from bowel cancer which metastasized to her lung and liver. Dr Turner concludes that Ruth won’t have long left to live.

Ruth and Arnolds daughter Hilary comes over to their house while Dr Turner talks everything through with her. Hilary offers for her and Arnold to move to Hendon with her and her husband Bernard but Ruth refuses on the grounds that Arnold worked his fingers to the bone to buy that house. While she talks she begins violently retching and she coughs up blood. Hilary doesn’t want to tip toe around everything, including the fact that their house was being knocked down but Dr Turner tells her she must take the lead from her mother.

Nurse Phyllis Crane is assigned to nurse her through her final days, her bed was brought downstairs despite her protests, mainly due to the damage to her paintwork as she was struggling with the stairs and so she could be warmer. As Ruth was speaking her bag came away and her bedsheets needed changing and she frantically tries to make sure her husband didn’t see her like that.

After she was moved to an armchair so she could breathe more easily until oxygen could be sorted out. Ruth takes a phone call from her son Martin and pretends that she isn’t unwell but Hilary takes the phone and tells him the truth. Ruth’s health continues to sink as her street is knocked down and she is administered oxygen to help her breathe. Sergeant Woolf informs Nurse Crane that their house is soon to be demolished but she prioritises caring for Ruth over anything else.

Ruth suffers a pulmonary haemorrhage and both Nurse Crane and Dr Turner know the blinds would be closing soon. Arnold doesn’t need to be told as he knew when she stopped polishing the candle sticks. Dr Turner asks if he was getting support at his synagogue but he explains he hadn’t been for years. Just then Sergeant Woolf arrives to kick Ruth and Arnold out, however Nurse Crane speaks to him and tells him her and Arnolds story and tells him if he kicks a dying woman onto the street he would have as much on his conscience as those who drove her from Germany. Just then her last link to Martin, the telephone wire is taken down but Woolf offers to put it back up for her.

Ruth’s breathing becomes laboured but Dr Turner assures Arnold she’s not in pain. Arnold and Hilary gather at her bedside, Arnold with a crack in his voice gives her a speech “If I never said that I was grateful to you, I say it now, If I never said that I was proud of the home that you kept, I say it now, If I didn’t tell you that you were beautiful when your face was all lined, when you didn’t have a new blouse from one summer to the next, I say it now. And if I didn’t tell you that I loved you, I say it now”. Ruth dies soon after and her son Martin is contacted by Phyllis Crane who informs him of the bad news.

After her death a synagogue is brought to the outside of her and Arnolds house and they conduct a service. Arnold then goes to live with Hilary and gives Phyllis a parting gift of strudel, the last thing to come from her kitchen which she shares with Sergeant Woolf.

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