Ruth Gemmell

Ruth Gemmell (born 1967) is an English actress, known for her role in the 1997 film Fever Pitch. She is also known for her work on the television show Utopia as Jen Dugdale.

Ruth Gemmell
Born1967 (age 5152)
Bristol,[1] England
Years active1991–present
Known forUtopia
Home Fires
Ray Stevenson
(m. 1997; div. 2005)

In 1996, Gemmell appeared in eight episodes of the television show Silent Witness as Detective Constable Kerry Cox, then as other characters in single episodes in 2006 and 2014.

Gemmell has also guest starred in several shows, including Casualty during 2014 and an episode of Midsomer Murders in 2015. She has been a leading character in the ITV series Home Fires, playing the role of cleric's wife Sarah Collingbourne.

Early life

Ruth Gemmell was born in Bristol but grew up in County Durham,[1] England, where she attended an all-girls' school in Darlington called Polam Hall School.[2] She has three brothers.[2] Her parents divorced when she was a child and she moved with her mother to Darlington from Barnard Castle. Later she moved to London, to live with her father and to pursue her acting dream. She states; "I moved to London because I assumed you had to go to drama school there...I didn't know any better. Having not lived with my dad before I thought it was an ideal opportunity, which is crazy now!"[3]

She trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Personal life

Gemmell was married in Westminster, London, in 1997 to actor Ray Stevenson, whom she met in 1995 during the filming of TV drama Band of Gold. The couple divorced in 2005.[4]


Gemmell has played a variety of roles mainly in theatres plus TV dramas. She played the leading female role Fever Pitch, based on Nick Hornby's novel of the same name, starring opposite Colin Firth[5] and had another leading role in the comedy/drama 2 January (2006).

In 2004 she starred in Tracy Beaker's Movie of Me as the mother of the title character, who abandoned her when she was a baby, leading her to spend life in a children's home.

From January 2009 she became a recurring character in EastEnders as Debra Dean, the mother of a teenage girl who, identically to her role in Tracy Beaker's Movie of Me, abandoned her daughter when she was an infant.

In August 2009, she starred as Rebecca Sands in two episodes of The Bill.[6]

Gemmell has appeared three times in the BBC's police drama Waking the Dead, playing two different characters. Her first appearance was in 2002 in the episode Special Relationships as DI Jess Worral, a former lover of DSI Boyd. She next appeared in the episode Sins of seventh season in 2008 as Linda Cummings, an exceptionally intelligent serial killer. Gemmell reprised the role of Cummings in Endgame, the fourth episode of the eighth season of the show. The storyline had Cummings manipulating Boyd and revealed that Cummings' accomplice was responsible for the drugs overdose that killed Boyd's son Luke. The role reprisal of Cummings is a first in the show's history.

Gemmell's ex-husband Ray Stevenson has also appeared in the show as consultant child abductor in the episode Fugue State.

Gemmell starred in Episode 8 of Jimmy McGovern's BBC drama Moving On playing the role of Joanne, in November 2010.[7]

In November 2011, Gemmell played Lady Shonagon in the adaptation for BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour of "The Pillow Book", by Robert Forrest. She appeared as Jen, the wife of an adulterous civil servant, in Channel 4 drama Utopia, in early 2013.

In 2015, Gemmell appeared in five episodes of the television series Penny Dreadful as Octavia Putney.



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Who Needs a Heart Abigail
1997 Fever Pitch Sarah Hughes
1997 The Perfect Blue Jo
2006 January 2nd Claire
2008 Good Elisabeth
2010 F Sarah Balham
2012 Storage 24 Sarah
2012 Offender Cassie
2019 Cliffs of Freedom Varvara Vakrinos


Year Title Role Notes
1995 The Bill Sue Latham "Woman of Substance"
1995 Band of Gold Gina Dickson "Sold"
1996 Kavanagh QC Jenny Norris "Men of Substance"
1996 Short Sharp Shocks Kate "Everywhere"
1996 Silent Witness Kerry Cox Regular role (series 1)
1997 Peak Practice Christine Higson "Home Truths"
1998 Macbeth Lady Macduff TV film
1999 The Bill Jane Joyce "Sex, Lies and Videotape"
1999 The Alchemists Julia Bannerman TV film
1999 Four Fathers Nicola Yallop "1.1", "1.2", "1.3"
2001 Holby City Diana Calder "Extra Time"
2002 Dalziel and Pascoe Rachel Waller "For Love Nor Money"
2002 Waking the Dead DI Jess Worrall "Special Relationship: Parts 1 & 2"
2003 The Bill Carol Evans "144: Power Trip", "145: Ride the Tiger", "146: The Law of the Jungle"
2003 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Jeannie Waring "Playing for the Ashes"
2003 Murder in Mind Liz Willis "Landlord"
2003 Spooks Miranda "2.6"
2004 Blue Dove Jenny Page TV miniseries
2005 Midsomer Murders Anne Merrick "The House in the Woods"
2006 The Afternoon Play Rachel "Are You Jim's Wife?"
2006 A Touch of Frost Christine Harris "Endangered Species"
2006 Silent Witness DI Beth Ashdown "Terminus: Part 2"
2007 Five Days Dr. Tobolska "Day 28", "Day 33", "Day 79"
2008 Agatha Christie's Poirot Miss Sweetiman "Mrs. McGinty's Dead"
2008 Summerhill Rose TV film
2008–09 Waking the Dead Linda Cummings Guest role (series 7–8)
2009 Trial & Retribution Kay Satchell "Shooter: Part 1"
2009 Primeval Katherine Kavanagh "3.3", "3.4"
2009 EastEnders Debra Dean Recurring role
2009 The Bill Rebecca Sands "Psychiatric Help", "Reaching Out"
2010 Lewis Robyn Strong "Your Sudden Death Question"
2010 Casualty Kate Margolin "No Place Like Home"
2010 Law & Order: UK Mel Garvey "Confession"
2010 Moving On Joanne "Losing My Religion"
2011 The Fades Alice TV miniseries
2012 Inside Men Rebecca TV miniseries
2013 Father Brown Martha Quinton "The Wrong Shape"
2013 Dancing on the Edge Lady Winnet "1.2"
2013 Holby City Amanda Layton "Only Human", "The More Deceived"
2013 Coming Up Lynn "Big Girl"
2013–14 Utopia Jen Dugdale Recurring role
2014 Silent Witness Ellie Brooke "Undertone: Parts 1 & 2"
2014 Inspector George Gently Irene Seddon "Gently Between the Lines"
2014 Casualty DC Monica Darling "Deadfall"
2015 Midsomer Murders Diana Carnarvon "A Vintage Murder"
2015 Penny Dreadful Octavia Putney Guest role (series 2)
2015–16 Home Fires Sarah Collingborne Main role
2017 Ransom Laurie "Girl on a Train"
2018 Doctors DCI Gail Hargreaves "Gone: Parts 1 & 2"


Title Role Notes
The Weir
Nabokov's Gloves
The Turn of the Screw
Measure for Measure
Uncle Vanya
An Ideal Husband
The Winter's Tale
The Second Mrs Tanqueray
The Importance of Being Earnest
A Tale of Two Cities
Death and the Maiden
Coram Boy
Macbeth Royal Shakespeare Company, 2004–2005
King Lear Royal Shakespeare Company, 2004–2005


Date Title Role Station
11 August 2008 – 15 August 2008 The Pillow Book[8] Shōnagon BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour Drama
8 June 2009 – 12 June 2009 The Pillow Book (series 2)[9] Shōnagon BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour Drama
30 October 2010 The Vanishing[10] Lieneke BBC Radio 4 Saturday Play
26 May 2011 – 30 May 2011 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold[11] Liz Gold BBC Radio 4
15 November 2010 – 19 November 2010 The Pillow Book (series 3)[12] Shōnagon BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour Drama
31 October 2011 – 4 November 2011 The Pillow Book (series 4)[13] Shōnagon BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour Drama


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