Former England cricketer-turned TV personality Phil Tufnell has paid tribute to Sr Wendy Beckett, the Roman Catholic nun who became an unlikely television star in later life, following her death at the age of 88.
Sr Wendy, an art critic and presenter, died at the Carmelite Monastery in Quidenham in Norfolk on Boxing Day. She found unexpected fame in the 1990s presenting a series of popular art programmes for the BBC which were shown around the world.
Former England cricketer and television presenter Tufnell worked with Sr Wendy on the BBC’s One Show. He celebrated their ‘unlikely pairing’, saying she had taught him a ‘great deal’.
He wrote: ‘So sad to learn of Sr Wendy’s passing… but I enjoyed every second in her company and she taught me a great deal & we had some giggles along the way. Will miss her very much.’
Sr Wendy was born in South Africa in 1930 and raised in Edinburgh where her father studied medicine.
At 16 she joined a convent and in 1950 was awarded a Congratulatory First Class degree in English literature from Oxford University. She later taught in cities, including Cape Town and Liverpool.
She began studying fine art in the 1980s and wrote a book on the subject to raise money for her convent.
Contemporary Women Artists, published in 1988, was followed by more books.
She lived a hermit-like existence in a caravan in Norfolk until 1991 when the BBC commissioned her to present a television documentary on the National Gallery in London.
Sr Wendy became well-loved for her unique presenting style. She would stand in front of paintings in galleries around the world and discuss, without autocue, the work in detail.
Picture: Sr Wendy Beckett.