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Call the Midwife nun Ella Bruccoleri lost her Catholic faith as rebellious teenager; EXCLUSIVE: The actress, who plays young Sister Frances in the hit BBC show, gave up the religion at a young age.

Byline: Janine Yaqoob

She is an utterly convincing nun in Call The Midwife, but in real life Ella Bruccoleri turned her back on religion.

The actress, who plays young Sister Frances in the hit BBC show, gave up Catholicism as a teenager because she couldn't get on with all the rules.

Ella tells how starring as a nun has given her a newfound respect for A-religion -- but her role couldn't tempt her back to the faith.

"I was raised Catholic," she said. "I come from an Italian family. I went to Catholic schools. But when I left home at 18 I became agnostic.

"I didn't know what I believed in so I would figure it out along the way. I became open to everybody's A-religious beliefs."

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But when she got the part on Call The Midwife she went back to church to research the role.

"I went to visit nuns. I started going to church services again, reading the Bible, watching a lot of documentaries. I tried to look at the world through A-different eyes."

Scarborough-born Ella says A-although she respects people who follow religion, she wouldn't go back. "The thing about sister Frances is that her beliefs and faith come from love and to help other people," she said. "It did rekindle something in me.

"I didn't want to conform to the strict rules. And in Catholicism there are a lot of rules, which is why I lapsed. Rebellion shouldn't be something that constricts or constrains you. It should be something that opens your heart."

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But she added: "I have so much respect for the faith."

Playing Sister Frances is Ella's first major TV role after drama school.

The actress was amazed to bag the star part in one of the country's A-biggest shows, beside big names such as Helen George and Judy Parfitt.

Ella said: "I didn't have high A-expectations when I left drama school. I thought I'd put in ten years hard graft then something would happen. So I couldn't believe it this.

"And now I'm working with people like Miriam Margolyes and Helen. They've got lots to teach to me."

Ella, who has signed up for the next series, says she relates a lot to her character Sister Frances.

"We are both quite socially A-awkward," she said. "We find some areas of life difficult that other people seem to find easy.

"We are both quite clumsy and a bit gawky."

She says working with babies has helped deal with her shyness. "When a baby gets put in my arms it A-instantly calms me. It places all my attention on them. It's a good tip for acting: just hold a baby!

"In one scene I'm dealing with a naked little girl.

"I passed her on to our midwifery adviser then she had a big squirty poo up her arm. I thought, 'Thank God it wasn't me.'"

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CAPTION(S):

Credit: BBC

Ella, here in Call the Midwife with Trixie Foster played by Helen George, left her Catholic family home at 18 and turned her back on the faith

Credit: Neal Street Productions/BBC

Ella, left, became open to everybody's religious beliefs when she dropped the Catholic religion

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Title Annotation:TV,TV News
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 2, 2019
Words:560
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