Thelma Barlow


Real name: Thelma Barlow
Born:
19 June 1937, Middlesbrough, North Riding, Yorkshire
Married:
Graham Barlow, 1956 (divorced)
Children:

  1. Clive
  2. James

Contact: c/o Granada Television

Played:
Mavis Wilton (14 August 1971 - 10 October 1997)

Thelma Barlow was born in Falmouth Street, Middlesbrough, and was brought up by her mother, Margaret as her father Tommy, a cabinet maker had died of pneumonia five weeks before her birth. Thelma has a sister Veda who is three years older. Thelma always loved to act and as children Veda and her performed their own on-going drama called The Nixon's. The three females soon moved to Huddersfield and at fifteen Thelma left school and went to Huddersfield Technical College to study shorthand and typing.

Thelma took her first job as a secretary and continued working there for eight years, spending her spare time at Huddersfield Technical College in their amateur dramatics group. At the advice of her drama teacher, Thelma decided to take up acting professionally and joined The Joan Littlewood Theatre Group. Once she had gained an Equity card, Thelma worked in repertory companies at Liverpool and Nottingham. She then moved to Birmingham Repertory Company before joining in 1960 The West of England Theatre Company in their production of The Way of The World, playing her husband was Peter Baldwin. Thelma joined the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company and whilst in Bristol ran a boarding house for fellow actors.

On stage she has appeared in plays including The Chimes, The Glass Menagerie, The Seagull and I Am A Camera. Whilst appearing at The Liverpool Playhouse, Thelma was asked to audition for a role in Coronation Street and gained the role of Mavis Riley, making her debut at Emily Nugent's engagement party on 14 August 1971. Her other television work includes Vanity Fair, Stranger On the Hill and Love Story. In 1972, Mavis was made a regular character when the character began working at The Kabin. During her time in The Street she has appeared on shows such as Soap On The Wire, This Morning, GMTV, TVam and TV Weekly. She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1991 a year after her book, Organic Gardening With Love.

In 1997 after screen husband Peter Baldwin was axed by producer Brian Park, Thelma announced that she was quitting the show after 26 years. Her final episode was screened on 10 October 1997 with Mavis moving to the Lake District to run a bead and breakfast. She had appeared in almost 2000 episodes. Since leaving Coronation Street, Thelma's television roles have included Dolly in two series of Dinnerladies (BBC1, 1998-99), Mrs Heep in David Copperfield and an episode of Murder Most Horrid. She has appeared on stage in Alan Bennett's Enjoy, in Nemesis and Sunny Side Up on Radio 4 and is currently making Simply Gardening for ITV.

Thelma married set designer Graham Barlow after a years courtship in 1956 and their first son Clive was born whilst she was working at Birmingham Rep. Their second son James followed later. Graham and Thelma separated when he studied at Glasgow University and Thelma found getting work difficult. The couple later divorced after he became a lecturer at the University. Clive has a degree in agricultural economics and works as an off licence manager whilst James has a degree in philosophy and works as a theatre director.

Thelma moved from Glasgow in 1973 and got a flat in Manchester which she shared with co-star Helen Worth but now lives in Settle, North Yorkshire and loves cooking and gardening.


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