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By the numbers - Nativity plays

Every year, groups of parents weepily watch the nativity play from the back of the school hall. They may seem meek and mild, but they are dreaming of taking to the stage themselves - as a villain.

A survey by Christian Research has found that, while 42 per cent of women longed to be Mary when they were at school and 23 per cent of men had coveted Joseph's role, as adults the most popular role is King Herod, who ordered the death of all young boys in Bethlehem.

In its survey last Christmas, Christian Research found that 79 per cent of Britons want to see nativity plays in their schools, with those in the eastern region most likely to want them and those in London the least.

How do you suspect the child who plays the Virgin Mary is chosen?

Attractive looks 27%

Good behaviour 22%

Teacher's favourite 16%

(Christian Research and Ship of Fools, 2011).

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