Entertainment

‘Stacey Dooley is the best bar nun – she is great at connecting with people’ – Sara Wallis


Stacey Dooley is not remotely religious and she’s not likely to start praying any time soon, but her convent documentary was a sister act worth watching.

Her conversational, hug-it-out style means she is excellent at ­making instant connections with everyone she meets and asking the big questions.

Stacey Dooley: Inside the Convent on BBC1 on Monday followed the presenter as she took a leap of faith to live at St Hilda’s Priory in Whitby for 10 days.

She was keen to reflect on her own faith – or lack of it – wondering if there were any aspects that she could bring into her own lifestyle.




But Stacey is a filmmaker, not a lost soul. She didn’t need to be spiritually ­enlightened to open her mind to the way others live. As she bonded with the nuns – who all absolutely loved her – we gained an insight into an unfamiliar lifestyle focused on work, reading and prayer and vows of poverty, obedience and celibacy.

“I love the freedom of not having a regimented routine,” said Stacey, perusing the detailed priory timetable. “My life is probably their idea of total hell.” It was a baptism of fire for Stacey when she was told to go straight to the chapel.

Breakfast the next day would be in total silence – something rather unnatural for this chatterbox.




Stacey is the everywoman, which makes her films so relatable. Having been given some spiritual bedtime reading, she had to leave her Elle mag in her suitcase.

She also wondered what to wear and confessed she was finding the prayers “a bit repetitive”.

The nuns received everything with wonderful humour and humility. “Yes, the prayers can be boring!” agreed one. Seeing how this mysterious section of society lives was an eye-opener. But the nuns were revealed as – lo and behold – normal women with doubts and fears.

Sister Grace, who has been at the priory for 50 years since she was 25, said: “I have wavered. When I was about 50, I thought, ‘Have I done the right thing? Shouldn’t I be married with children?’ But I’ve always come through that.”

And sister Helen, 56, said this life was her calling, but when it came to the idea of maybe one day leaving for love, she said: “Never say never.”

Stacey was given food for thought as she ditched her phone and contemplated her on-the-go, money-driven lifestyle, even learning that prayers can simply be reflective thoughts.

“We thought you might pack up and go after three or four days!” admitted Sister Jocelyn at the end.

“You had no faith in me!” quipped Stacey. Revelations all round after all…





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