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Sister Boniface Mysteries | Interview with Lorna Watson (Sister Boniface)

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Picture Shows: Sister Boniface (LORNA WATSON)

Q: What was your reaction when you first played Sister Boniface in Father Brown?

A: I really enjoyed that job. I had a blast. I was working with the lovely Mark Williams and Hugo Speer. We just had loads of fun. She’s a brilliant character to play. I don’t normally play intelligent people. Also, I’d never played a nun before. So I was quite excited to get the habit on, I’m not going to lie! Sister Boniface has a puppy dog enthusiasm about her, and it’s quite infectious.

Q: Why do you think the character struck such an immediate chord?

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A: The idea of a sleuthing nun is brilliant, and that’s probably why this character resonated the way it did. Sister Boniface went down well on Father Brown because she was more than just a punch line. She felt like she was a character who had more to say, and people thought it would be nice to get to know her more in some capacity.

Q: Talk us through Sister Boniface’s character

A: She’s kind, clever, a bit naïve, a bit mischievous, and honest – there’s no guile there. She’s also determined. She’s a nun, she drives a Vespa, and she does forensics. As if being a nun wasn’t enough already! I don’t think she sleeps. I think she just plugs into recharge for an hour at night, and then she’s ready to go again.

Q: What can you tell us about Sister Boniface’s background?

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A: She worked at Bletchley Park during the War. She was a serious brain being taken seriously in the world. Then MI5 came calling and that’s when she turned her back on life as she knew it and became a nun. What’s great is that she’s a nun, but she isn’t just a nun. She’s a polymath so has the brain space to pursue other passions too such as crime solving – much to Reverend Mother Adrian’s astonishment and at times distress. She can’t quite get her head around the fact that Sister Boniface can solve crimes, make wine and fulfil her duties as a nun.

Q: Sister Boniface is well set up to solve crimes at the nunnery, isn’t she?

A: Yes. She’s even got her own cutting-edge crime lab in the convent. It must be a world’s first crime lab in a convent. She is indispensable to the police. There are so many murders happening in Great Slaughter, but now it has the most incredible cleanup rate! As far as I know, it’s 100%.

Q: What were the challenges of wearing the habit?

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A: Well, first of all, the embarrassing tan line that I got on my face. It was like a rectangle. It was quite overcast when we started filming, and I thought, “this is good.” I was wearing sun cream on my face, but I just didn’t realise how apparent the sunburn would be. Also the heat. I had to have ice packs and stuff underneath my costume because it was so hot. But at the same time, the habit really helped me. A habit is one of those costumes that transforms you. You start moving differently automatically. For instance, you turn your head differently. It does physically really affect you. At the same time, it really helps you to quickly get into character.

Q: Did you enjoy riding the Vespa?

A: Yes. I was over excited to get on it. It was a feisty bike and was really loads of fun to drive. About five scenes in, I thought, “I’ve got this.” And then, of course … One day, we were filming in this very picturesque village, and the director said, “whatever you do, Lorna, don’t drive straight into the light stand.” I replied, “don’t worry, I’m on it.” But I was so obsessed with not driving into the light stand that I totally forgot that there was a police car in front of me. So I just drove into the 1960s vintage police car. Classic, absolute classic. There was just silence and then everyone ran towards me. It wasn’t a bad crash or anything. But it was just so typical. Of course, that was on camera. I haven’t seen it, but it’s somewhere.

Q: Why do we adore period dramas so much?

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A: I love a period drama. I think it’s the escapism it provides. Especially nowadays with just so much doom and gloom, immersing yourself in another world and losing yourself in that for a bit is quite therapeutic. It’s also genuinely interesting to see how people did things at that time. It’s fascinating to look at the forensics of the 1960s and compare them with the modern day

Q: Do you think Sister Boniface could match its sister show Father Brown and clock up 100 episodes?

A: Oh, my gosh, that would be amazing. I would love that. It would be so nice if we got to do it again. If we were even a fraction as successful as Father Brown, I’d be very happy. All I can tell you is we had so much fun making it. And I really hope people like watching it as much as we enjoyed making it.

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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