Dame Harriet Walter joins Call the Midwife as Sister Ursula

The 65-year-old will play a "not very welcome addition" to Nonnatus House when the period drama returns in 2017

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Nonnatus House is getting a new nun in the form of Dame Harriet Walter. The 65-year-old veteran actress is set to don a wimple and join the sixth series of the long-running period drama when it airs on BBC1 next year.

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She’ll play Sister Ursula, a character Walter describes as a “not very welcome addition” to the midwifery team.

“It’s back to earth with a bump for our beloved midwives as they return from their magical Christmas mission trip to South Africa. It is now 1962, and in a rapidly changing world, the arrival of Sister Ursula – superbly played by Dame Harriet Walter – brings new challenges to Nonnatus House,” writer Heidi Thomas tells RadioTimes.com, adding: “Tears are shed, and bonds reinforced, as the team pull together as never before.”

We’ve got an exclusive first look at the new nun, who joins after the departure of much-loved character Sister Evanglina, played by Pam Ferris, who passed away at the end of season five.

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Walter is a prolific stage and film actress, best known for roles in Atonement, Sense and Sensibility, Downton Abbey, London Spy, Little Dorrit and Star Wars: the Force Awakens. 

She’ll join the series when the residents of Nonnatus House return to the East End after a trip to South Africa during the festive special. Walter will star alongside Helen George, Charlotte Ritchie, Emerald Fennell, Jenny Agutter, Judy Parfitt and Miranda Hart, who is returning to the show after a recent hiatus. 

“As an actor I’ve been made to feel one of the family from the start,” says Walter of her new role. 

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Call the Midwife will be back on BBC1 for a Christmas special later this year and a sixth season in 2017