THE SHOW: Call the Midwife (Season Six)
THE PAIRING: Tom Hereward (Jack Ashton) and Barbara Gilbert (Charlotte Ritchie)
THE MOMENT: Tom surprises Barbara with a carousel ride
Anyone who’s a TV addict will tell you TV romances are a multitude of many things. They can be frustrating and swoon-inducing, sweet and passionate. If you haven’t seen BBC’s wonderful 60s era period drama Call the Midwife, one thing you might not realize about it is that it too boasts a lovely romance.
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Though not the primary focus of the show, romantic relationships are central to the story arcs. You may also be surprised to learn the current “love story” of the show is one that bloomed out of a broken relationship. The relationship is between parish cleric Tom Hereward and midwife Barbara Gilbert.
But because “boring” is no fun, the relationship between Tom and Barbara evolved from a complicated circumstance. Tom once courted midwife, Trixie Franklin until both realized they simply weren’t right for each other. In the aftermath of their broken engagement, Tom and Barbara “fell together,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
Though tears were shed, and tears in friendship carefully repaired, it’s this history that brings us to today’s feature. Season six SPOILERS AHEAD!
An Unusual Romance: Tom and Barbara
It’s while on a mission’s trip to Africa that something unexplained shifts in Tom and Barbara’s relationship. Tom begins to see what he has in Barbara, and the more he comes to know her (who she is as a person, what she fights for), the more he admires and loves her.
Ironically, it’s a conversation between Trixie and Tom that nudges him to make it official. As they talk, Trixie realizes she once misjudged Barbara by looking only at the surface of her. Tom replies that he doesn’t just “look at her on the surface.”
With a wise, winsome smile, Trixie says, “I know.” As the conversation continues, Trixie tells Tom this is why Barbara is the person he should spend his whole life with.
Curious, he queries, “Whole life, Trixie?”
She continues asking one thing of him, “But promise me one thing. If you propose to her, or even when, don’t give her that ring that you once gave me. …Barbara’s had so many second-hand things over the years. Get her something brand new – she deserves it.”
Before they return to London, Tom impulsively proposes. He picks a piece of grass, and with a sincere, hopeful expression he asks Barbara to marry him with the following speech.
“Barbara, I want you to have this. No one’s hand ever touched it but mine and it’s as though it was just growing here, waiting for this moment.” Not yet done, he continues, “There’ll be a gold ring, there’ll be a diamond if you want one, but for now – you beautiful girl – will you just let me love you and accept this blade of grass?”
With joy on her face, Barbara accepts.
The Lead In
Weeks pass and Barbara and Tom make final wedding preparations. During one of their evenings in making such plans, Barbara shares a story of her childhood. Speaking of her father, she recalls a festival that came with a carousel. Remembering, she shares, “I begged him to take me, and in the end, he said I could have one ride.”
Lost in her fond memories, she continues, “And then he lifted me up onto the most beautiful horse on the carousel, and he stood and he waved and watched as I went round.”
With love and a sense of wonder on his face for this woman, Tom remarks, “You’ve never told me that.”
Smiling softly, Barbara answers, “I suppose the day will come when we’ve told one another everything and we won’t have anything new to say because one way or another we’ve shared everything that matters.”
Understanding passes between them in the quiet of the small room. Clearly with a deep love and respect for one another, both answer they hope to someday find themselves in just such a place…
The Romantic Moment
Following their wedding during which reverent and sincere vows are taken in front of their closest friends, and Barbara’s father, Tom has a surprise.
As they drive away from the church in their car, decorated with cans and ribbons, Barbara becomes confused. “Why aren’t we driving to the door?” she asks referring to their reception location.
Smiling at this woman he’s just promised to love, honor and cherish, he replies, “Trust me, and close your eyes.”
Guiding her out of the car, in the crisp night air, he stops her, and says, “Open them.”
Opening her eyes, before her, Barbara finds a magical carousal. In wonderment, she turns back towards Tom, and with a wide, happy smile, asks, “Did you do all of this for me?”
Softly, he tells her, “I do everything for you. Always.”
It’s there, in the glow of the carousel lights that the bride and groom come together, and share a kiss. Hand in hand they walk towards the majestic ride, and late into the night, they ride the carousel.
Though it goes unspoken, it’s as if together, Tom and Barbara remember the past that brought them to this moment, and anticipate a future greater than they can imagine.
As I think back over season six specific to Tom and Barbara’s story, their story is really a series of collective scenes. It’s in these quiet, unassuming moments we fall further in love with them as a couple. They’re so good for each other. This season further reinforces this through these simple, but beautiful moments.
Do you like Tom and Barbara together? Who’s been your favorite couple on Call the Midwife? Sound off below with your thoughts!