Thelma Barlow Returns To Screens In A New Film

Judy Flynn © Thelma Barlow comes out of retirement to star in a new film. Image show Thelma sitting on a couch wearing her reading glasses and reading a letter she's just opened.

Thelma Barlow, famous for playing Mavis in Coronation Street, has come out of retirement at the age of 94 to work on a short film called Sleepless in Settle.

After playing the much-loved Corrie character Mavis Wilton for 26 years, Thelma retired the role in 1997 having featured in over 1,200 episodes.

Now in her 90s, Thelma has decided to step back in front of the camera for a new film. Sleepless in Settle is a 20-minute comedy short filmed in Rye and Rye Harbour, East Sussex last year.

It was written and directed by actress Judy Flynn, who starred alongside Thelma in a couple of episodes of Dinnerladies in the late 90s. Flynn says this project was inspired by her life in Rye where she is currently based and wanting to write a role specifically for Barlow.

Thelma plays Barbara and the plot revolves around her trying to find her son, played by Graham Turner, a wife. Filming took just three days, and the scene was set by Vicarage in Rye Harbour, a local garden centre and a community centre.

Thelma Barlow and Graham Turner in new film Sleepless in Settle.

In an interview with the BBC, Thelma said: “It was so lovely filming in Rye.

“The script was so good and is very gentle and has such a good, positive message.

“It was three action-packed days. It took me right back to my early days of rep theatre.”

The film premiered in Rye on Saturday. Judy Flynn hopes to show it at various UK film festivals over the summer.

She also spoke with the BBC and said: “I’ve always admired her [Thelma Barlow] work.

“We met again at her 90th birthday party and I asked if I could write something specifically for her and she agreed.

“Filming with Thelma was a total joy. She had so much energy and was full of ideas.”

Will Thelma Barlow Also Return To Coronation Street?

After leaving the soap, Thelma Barlow had a number of one-off appearances in various popular television shows including Midsomer Murders, Doctor Who and Doc Martin.

During a recent appearance on Good Morning Britain while promoting Sleepless in Settle, Thelma Barlow spoke about her return to acting, but she was quick to shut down the rumours that she would also be returning to Corrie as Mavis Wilson.

Peter Baldwin (Derek Wilton) and Thelma Barlow (Mavis Wilton) in Coronation Street, 1991. Image: ITV/Shutterstock.

The actress said: “No. I’d be far too terrified. I’d be so frightened to do something that was commercial and in a big studio.”

Mavis was an incredibly popular Coronation Street character from 1971 to 1997. She usually appeared in comic scenes with her boss Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) or her husband Derek Wilton (Peter Baldwin).

When asked again if anything would persuade her to return for a single cameo, Thelma said: “Never say no, but I would just be too frightened.”

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Hannah McLaren

I've worked at DC Thomson for six years! I began as an intern at My Weekly and The Scots Magazine, which was extended by a few months to help out at The People's Friend. I then covered maternity as Celebrity Editor for My Weekly, before I became Multimedia Journalist at The Scots Magazine. Currently I'm writing digital content across each title.