Tony Jordan's Nativity: I play Mary


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I knew immediately that The Nativity was a special script. I was fascinated by Tony Jordan's complicated, human portrayal of these iconic characters.

I think you will be drawn in, as I was, by the story's accessibility. It is universal.

Mary is visited by the Angel Gabriel, and she learns she will bear the son of God.

I loved that Mary wasn't written as a perfect, saintly being, which had been my image of her as I grew up.

In the script, she was very real, very fallible - a girl with innocence, confusion and doubt, and also great courage and faith. She was complicated.

The role was a challenge, both daunting and exciting. It felt like a huge responsibility because Mary symbolises so much to so many people.

I did a lot of research about her and then I tried to forget that she becomes the mother of God.

Instead I explored the fact that she was an ordinary child, in wonder of the world around her, faced with an extraordinary journey.

Coky Giedroyc's intelligent, artful direction kept me grounded in that reality.

My first day on set, I was filming a scene with the lovely Frances Barber (Elizabeth) - we were both sitting in the sand and I could feel the heat of it on my bare feet and the desert sun beating down on my head and everything just sort of fell into place.

It was a visceral experience that connected me to the story, the character.

All of the cast were so talented, so skilled at their craft, and every day on set I soaked up as much as I could working with these veteran performers.

Andy Buchan (Joseph) kept me on my toes everyday - he's an incredible actor, a real explorer. And funny too. We often tried to one-up each other with our David Brent impressions.

Even though the material was mostly heavy, there were, of course, lighter moments while we were filming.


Clara, our mostly faithful donkey, would get bored and run off during takes, Obi Abili (Gaspar) nearly fell off his rather unruly, yelling, projectile spitting camel and I can't even count how many sheep sneezed over our lines during the quiet, intimate scenes in the manger.

We filmed for a month in Ouarzazate, Morocco, an incredible place, and became very much a family. I had never been anywhere like North Africa before.

I loved the languages, the music, the food. I think I sweated off most of my body weight and I bet you can feel the intense heat watching the series.

I want to go back again, but this time without the responsibility (and enormous privilege) of carrying the son of God.

Tatiana Maslany plays Mary in The Nativity.

The Nativity starts on Monday, 20 December at 9pm on BBC One.

For further programme times please visit the upcoming episodes page.

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