The arresting sight of Sister Wendy Beckett - all teeth and glasses - burst on to our screens in the 1990s. An instant star, she glided around the world in her habit telling us the story of painting. But she revealed nothing of her own extraordinary story.
Arena goes in search of the ‘real’ Wendy, who, at 82, talks frankly and humourously about her life – and death (“not too long now, I hope!”) for the first time.
Typically, Sister Wendy set her own unusual ground rules for the programme: she would – albeit reluctantly - talk about her own life, but also wanted to share with us a carefully chosen selection of paintings by the greatest old masters – mostly in the National Gallery and Louvre – in an attempt to connect us to the big emotional insights in the Gospel stories they depict. These are the stories that are at the core of her faith and have formed her unique rebellious spirit.
Yet these same stories - that were once universally familiar and formed the moral template of Western civilisation – are now largely forgotten.