Sister Julienne is the Sister-In-Charge at Nonnatus House. Deeply religious, she is also profoundly practical and confers dignity on her patients through her sensitive, non-judgmental approach.
She is often called upon to mediate between her fellow sisters when they quarrel - this is an almost exclusively female world, and her tact and gentleness are essential to its happiness.
Sister Julienne is played by Jenny Agutter.
Q+A with Jenny Agutter
How did it feel getting back into the habit again?
I was really pleased to hear a second season had been commissioned. It is a good feeling returning to a character that you enjoy and I looked forward to the new scripts and seeing what the stories would be and how they would develop.
How was it seeing the rest of the cast again?
As soon as we were all together, it felt as though no time had passed. We fell into comfortable habits (pardon the expression) that had grown in the first series of sitting around the corridors of Nonnatus House talking between scenes. Mostly about our own domestic situations like moving house, decorators, food recipes and restaurants.
Where are your favorite places to film on set?
I love the common room which is filled with great magazines and the bits and pieces that make up the nuns and midwives lives. I also love my office because on my desk there are always letters and the props department have taken the trouble to create worlds and lives in the letters so that if I glance down I can read a wonderful thank you letter from someone in Poplar referring to how well they were taken care of.
Were there any hard episodes to film this season?
We have dealt with sickness and death almost as much as with birth and there were two episodes where birth and death come close to one another and my character is very much present in these situations. I found them difficult because the moments are such private personal ones and it was very important to serve them well and as straightforwardly as possible.
Do we see Sister Julienne interact with any new characters?
Sister Julienne interacts with those who come into the community and we have a number of new people arriving. One woman, Jane, is introduced by her, to Nonnatus House. She is someone who has come from an unusual and unstable background and finds it exceedingly difficult to fit in. Sister Julienne also has to work with a very forceful but well-meaning Vicar’s wife; the sort of person who gets things done but you are not sure whether you want what she is proposing.
How much pressure do you feel to keep true to the character she is based on?
I hope that I have stayed true to character. It is important to keep the continuity. However, different directors have different ways of seeing and telling stories and perhaps the way they interpret the characters may make them appear different. But I love referring to the notes given to me by the niece of the character I play which are very full and descriptive and give me an image of the person I want to portray. I have a number of photographs as well; the geniality, simplicity and humour of the woman is apparent in these photos.
What is the relationship like between Sister Julienne and the other nuns?
Sister Julienne remains quietly in charge. She respects and enjoys the other nuns with whom she shares important parts of her life. She draws on Sister Evangelina's strength and she has great hopes for the young nun Sister Bernadette. However, she has to deal with a number of problems arising from changes that are occurring; she has to deal with sickness in Nonnatus House and help others face questions they have about faith and the future of the house itself.