Call The Midwife Christmas Special star Miriam Margolyes today reveals a hidden past that would certainly make her fellow screen nuns blush.
She once worked as a silky-voiced soft porn actress called Sexy Sonia.
And Miriam, 77, also confesses she posed nude for a famous painter.
The Harry Potter actress will play formidable Sister Mildred in the Nonnatus House festive special.
But in her youth, some of the habits she got into were quite risque ones.
“Before I became an established actress, I was known for my work as a voice artist,” says the star who was a hit this year in BBC special Miriam’s Big American Adventure.
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“And I recorded a soft-porn audio called Sexy Sonia: Leaves from my Schoolgirl Notebook… it was one of my first ever shows.
“It was for sale in sex shops and one day I went into Ann Summers and told the man behind the counter I was Sexy Sonia.
“He was very distressed and told me to keep my voice down because he didn’t want people to know she was this short, fat and rather unattractive person.”
Stage and screen veteran Miriam – who bounced back into the public eye in BBC reality show The Real Marigold Hotel – also became such a big fan of Welsh painter Augustus John that she wrote to him offering to pose nude. “I thought it was worth taking my clothes off for a genius,” says the actress who was 17 at the time, while he was 80.
Miriam – who also posed naked in publicity shots for 1975 TV drama The Girls Of Slender Means – said: “I ended up modelling for him in the nude. He did tell me to climb a
ladder though, and that made me feel very peculiar.”
While millions across the country will witness Miriam’s guest appearance in Call The midwife, she admits she won’t be sitting down to watch it after Christmas dinner with her partner Heather Sutherland. “I never watch programmes I am in,” she says.
Mildred’s arrival at Nonnatus House with four Chinese orphans comes as a surprise.
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In the storyline, the youngsters had fled China and were found abandoned in Hong Kong before being adopted in the UK as part of the World Refugee Project. The unexpected visitors – along with their chaperone Mildred – will bring both festive joy and chaos to Nonnatus House as the midwives are run off their feet caring for Poplar’s expectant mums.
Also joining as new cast members are ITV Harlots star Fenella Woolgar, 49, as Sister Hilda, The Last Kingdom’s Ella Bruccoleri as Sister Frances and Waterloo Road’s Georgie Glen, 62, as the surgery’s new receptionist, Miss Higgins.
As the eighth series begins in the New Year, fans will see Judy Parfitt put in some stellar performances are Sister Monica battling dementia.
Judy’s husband Tony died from the illness in 2001, but she says she’s taken no inspiration from real life.
“Dementia is not one thing, it has many strands,” she says. “My husband had vascular dementia. You can go along quite normally and then if you get ill, stressed, worried or frightened, the chain breaks. You just lose the plot. It’s a very complex illness. Every dementia is different.
“My husband’s dementia belonged to him. I don’t think about that when I’m playing it.”
Judy, 83, claims Call The Midwife is the “best show on television”.
And we’re the most viewed, regardless of what all the headlines are about Poldark,” she adds.
“We’re on 10.8million. It’s very infuriating when in all the newspapers it says Poldark is the top show. I’m in the top show.”
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