Emmerdale’s Louisa Clein details ’self-discovery’ on BBC’s Pilgrimage ‘Extreme experience

Debbie McGee discusses Christians on BBC show Pilgrimage

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Seven celebrities are setting off on a 1,600km trip across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland for BBC’s Two Pilgrimage series. Jewish actress Louisa Clein, who starred as Maya Stepney in Emmerdale, opened up to Express.co.uk and other press about the challenges she faced during the trek.  

The pilgrims include non-conforming pagan and interior designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen alongside practising Sikh and England cricket legend Monty Panesar.

Agnostic TV personality Nick Hewer, Christian reality TV star Scarlett Moffatt, Muslim comedian Shazia Mirza and lapsed Christian and Paralympian Will Bayley complete the line-up.

The Emmerdale actress was asked how she found the intense journey.

She said: “First of all, the physical challenge I felt was really something that appealed to me the idea of having the opportunity to walk this walk, to see this countryside and to discuss with other people, all of our religions, to learn something new. 

Read more: Pilgrimage: What religion are Nick Hewer and Scarlett Moffatt?

“I wanted to learn, I didn’t know much about Sikhism or anything like that so actually to be able to go to the gurdwara with Monty and to have the experience of other religions, to be in the countryside and to physically challenge myself.”

“And I suppose a sense of self-discovery as well a sense of my whole Jewishness is so fundamentally based in 20th-century history,” he continued. 

“I was really interested to discover more about what it means to me to be Jewish, in a greater world, amongst other religions, to talk about it with other people and also to represent the Jews as somebody who hasn’t probably spoken out about being Jewish as much as some other people.”

Louisa explained how much she enjoyed exploring her Jewish identity.

The actress said: “Personally, I learnt for myself there’s something quite powerful about suddenly being able to talk about being Jewish.

“I think I have whispered it for a lot of my life. 

“I grew up in a very non-Jewish area with a very non-Jewish family life and suddenly talking to other people and being asked questions myself about being Jewish and just saying it out loud, it’s incredibly freeing, and exposing.

“And learning to be amongst other people, you get thrown together a bunch of personalities, a bunch of people that you’ve never met and you’re going through extreme experiences.

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“You’ll see in the next episodes, we have some extreme experiences and to sort of adapt and coexist with these other people and that was a real learning curve for me.”

Louisa teased viewers about the “extreme experiences” present in the series. 

She continued: “Well, the things that sprang to mind immediately, we spent a night sleeping on the floor of a church, literally just on the floor of a church. 

“We spent a very memorable night in a bothy, which I didn’t even know what a bothy was before this.”

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“But it’s a building that’s essentially four walls and a roof with no electricity, no water, no heating,” she shared. 

“I just remember walking in and seeing this concrete floor and we were carrying our sleeping bags and it was like, ‘Oh okay, this is our night tonight.’

“It was in the most unbelievable surroundings we were cornered by huge cliffs on one side and just the ocean and seals as our company so that that was extreme.”

Pilgrimage: The Road to the Scottish Isles airs on BBC Two on Friday at 9pm.

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