Arena: Sister Wendy and the Art of the Gospel

Radio Times
Review by:
David Butcher

Remember Sister Wendy, the art historian nun with a toothy smile and heartfelt pieces to camera? She returns to our screens in an Arena film that suffers slightly from trying to do three different things at once. But if what you need at this point are thoughtful insights on the place of silence in our lives, look no further.

Then again, if you’re intrigued by Sister Wendy’s singular back story (“I have a cold heart,” she admits), the film works as a profile. And if it’s art you want, she talks us through a selection of religious paintings as eloquently as ever.

About this programme

Sister Wendy Beckett hit the TV screen in 1992 when she presented the first of a series of art history documentaries for the BBC. In this film, Randall Wright visits the Carmelite monastery in Quidenham, Norfolk, where the nun talks about her life, art and faith, and explains how paintings by old masters give insights into the Gospel stories they depict. Wendy also talks about how she found God as a four-year-old, discusses leaving home at 16 to enter the order of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and reveals her first teaching job led to a physical and nervous breakdown.

Cast and crew


Sister Wendy Beckett


Randall Wright
Executive Producer
Anthony Wall
Executive Producer
Wendy Robbins
Randall Wright