Norfolk convent welcomes “party girls” for new TV documentary

The Daughters of Divine Charity in Swaffham are set to feature in a new high-profile four-part TV documentary on Channel 5 called Bad Habits when five “party girls” are sent to the Norfolk Convent for two weeks.

The documentary is reported to be the first time in a decade in which programme-makers have been allowed to film inside a Catholic Convent.

During their stay, the five girls gave up their smartphones, alcohol and make-up and helped the Sisters with their community outreach duties.

Sr Francis Ridler from the Convent, who is also headteacher at the associated Sacred Heart School, said: “It is all about five girls who are not satisfied with their lifestyle, drinking, spending too much money on make-up and the good life as it were.

“They were told they were going on a spiritual journey, but not told where. They were brought to Swaffham one by one. When they found out it was a convent they were very surprised.

“We tried to involve them in the life of the convent, in our prayers and community activities. It is a very down-to-earth film and although there were some scary moments, we feel it is an honest portrayal and good for the church.

“When one of them went out and brought a bottle of vodka back – we told them it not appropriate and after discussing it with us they took the vodka and poured it down the sink. I was as concerned about the waste as about them bringing the vodka back, which surprised the girls.”

“I am happy with the film as entertainment and we think it will bring the lives of the Sisters into people’s homes and help them to understand better what we do and are all about. I think that the producers edited it for an audience that is not used to religion and spirituality,” said Sr Francis.

“I can honestly say we felt we made a difference to their lives.”

Series producer Elaine Hackett said: “It is a real privilege to be granted access to a convent and to nuns who were willing to share their world.

Channel 5 factual commissioning editor Guy Davies said: “It’s not a finger wagging exercise at young millennial women. Bad Habits is a really popular and entertaining way of asking some serious questions about how we live our lives.”

Bad Habits, Holy Orders starts on Thursday October 19, 10pm on Channel 5.

You can see the Sisters talk about the programme on the One Show on BBC1 at 7.00pm on Wednesday October 18 and on This Morning on ITV at 10am on Thursday October 19.

There are also plans for the Sisters to run a free pop-up restaurant in Shoreditch in London on October 18 and 19. It will be called Nundos.

http://fdc-sisters.org.uk/about-us/

Pictures from Channel 5.