Call The Midwife tackles the Thalidomide scandal once again in series six as the show catches up with Susan, a baby girl born to expectant mother Rhoda who’d taken medication prescribed by Doctor Turner in series five.
Rhoda Mullucks (Liz White) will be a familiar face to regular Midwife viewers – but when exactly did we meet her family? And what’s their story?
When did Rhoda Mullucks first appear in Call The Midwife?
We first met Rhoda Mullucks and her family in the opening episode of series five, not long after we learned that a baby with no thumbs had been born in Poplar.
Rhoda was heavily pregnant with her third child and taking medication prescribed by Doctor Turner.
What happened to Rhoda’s daughter Susan?
Susan’s development was affected by the medication prescribed by Doctor Turner. When she was delivered by Patsy and Shelagh, baby Susan was severely deformed.
All four of her arms and legs were shrivelled and it was thought that she might not make it through the night. Doctor Turner took it upon himself to care for her and was relieved when Susan survived.
Was a real baby used for the thalidomide delivery scenes?
No, a special prosthetic baby was used to recreate the delivery of a thalidomide baby. You can find out more about how the scenes were filmed here.
How did Susan’s family react to her birth?
Rhoda was determined to do the best for her daughter, no matter what. Her husband, however, took a little more convincing.
“How could you even let that live? …There ain’t no way that thing is coming back to our house!” he shouted, before storming out, leaving his wife to meet their daughter alone.
It fell to Sister Mary Cynthia to pay him a visit, sharing the story of her own brother’s disability and assuring him that he would find a way to make it through the tough times with love for his child.
How old is Susan in series six?
We catch up with the Mullucks family 18 months after Susan’s birth. Her mother is attempting to enrol her in nursery school when she comes up against prejudice.
She pays a visit to Doctor Turner who still feels immense guilt about the role the medication he gave Rhoda played in Susan’s development. “I prescribed the drugs that robbed that child of every single limb”, he tells Shelagh.
He personally escorts Rhoda and her husband to Roehampton Hospital, where medical staff are developing prosthetic limbs for children like Susan, and remains with the family every step of the way.
Does the little girl playing Susan really have shortened limbs?
No, the child playing Susan was fitted with prosthetics to give the illusion that she had suffered the affects of thalidomide.
Call The Midwife series 6 continues on BBC1 on Sunday nights at 8pm