BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
Press Office
Search the BBC and Web
Search BBC Press Office

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Press Releases & Press Packs




The Virgin Mary - Christmas 2002 on BBC ONE

Press pack available

Dramatic reconstructions recreate the story of MaryFrom religious icons to school nativity plays, the image of Mary is familiar to people of all generations throughout the world.

At the heart of Christian beliefs and with a major role in Islam, she is arguably the most famous, and certainly the most revered, woman ever to have lived.

Yet discovering who Mary really was is no easy task. For a woman of such importance, her presence in the Bible is slight. And she came from a place in the midst of political unrest and upheaval from which very few historical records survive.

In BBC ONE's The Virgin Mary, dramatic reconstructions and stunning visual effects are combined with the latest findings from historians and New Testament scholars to recreate the story of this remarkable woman.

Presented by actress Sue Johnston, The Virgin Mary explores the history behind the miraculous Bible story to reveal the living, breathing mother of Christianity.

The picture that emerges is very different from that of popular belief – the serene young woman, dressed in blue silken robes, was largely a creation of later writers and Renaissance painters.

Mary, or Miriam as she was more likely called, was a child of no more than 12 or 13 when the custom of the time dictated that she was sold into marriage to an older man.

Probably uneducated and with few rights, she found herself pregnant while still unmarried, a dangerous position in first-century Palestine.

But Mary survived and went on to give birth to a baby who would transform the course of human history.

Sue Johnston says: "Many of you will find the story of this Mary brutal and shocking; she certainly isn't the woman I was expecting. But although the Mary in our programme is very human, she is every bit as deserving of our affection."

This powerful film is a celebration of a phenomenal life with many modern-day resonances.

For Christians and non-Christians alike, this new portrayal of the real Mary will be as much of an inspiration as the stories that have grown up around her over the last 2,000 years.

A BBCi site – – which ties in with the programme, features additional information to back up the film's theories, as well as interviews with the experts.

It also allows users to go behind the scenes to learn more about the making of the film.

Notes to Editors

The Virgin Mary is a BBC/Discovery Channel co-production in association with Jerusalem Productions.

The Virgin Mary press pack is available below, in PDF format. You may require Adobe Acrobat Software to read PDF files which can be obtained here.

The Real Mary (269 KB)

What Mary means to me - interview with Sue Johnston (160 KB)

Experts and biographies (224 KB)



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy