Coronation Street legend returns to work 26 years after retiring her iconic character

Barbara Knox and Thelma Barlow
-Credit: (Image: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Coronation Street star Thelma Barlow, 95, is set to return to the screen as she comes out of retirement almost 30 years after leaving the ITV soap. The actress is best known for playing Mavis Wilton in Coronation Street from 1971 to 1997 where she appeared opposite Barbara Knox (Rita Sullivan) and Peter Baldwin (Derek Wilton).

The last time Thelma acted was in the film, Florence Foster Jenkins, in 2016 where Meryl Streep played the titular character. Thelma played Mrs. Oscar Garmunder before retiring from acting.

However, Thelma will now star in a short film Sleepless in Settle which follows a mother trying to find a wife for her son.

Speaking about filming, the beloved actress said: "It was three action-packed days. It took me right back to my early days of rep theatre."

Thelma Barlow
Thelma will star in a short film after coming out of retirement -Credit:Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage
Rita and Mavis were colleagues and firm friends
Rita and Mavis were colleagues and firm friends -Credit:Granada TV

While filming for the new project, Thelma was reunited with her Dinner Ladies co-star Judy Lynn - who wrote and directed the short film.

Explaining how the role in the short film came about, Judy said: "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."

Whilst in Coronation Street Thelma had fans in stitches as her character often had hilarious scenes in The Kabin along with actress Rita.

Thelma Barlow and Barbara Knox
Thelma recently caught up with her old Corrie pal Barbara -Credit:MEN Media

Thelma left the cobbles twenty-five years ago, but the duo were reunited during Barbara’s 90th birthday at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park last year.

Barbara told the Manchester Evening News: "She was the best partner I could ever have had. We were great friends, we were so fond of each other, we went everywhere together. We really were good friends as well as acting together so well.

"We've kept in touch over the years and thank god she looks so well." She added: "I would love Mavis back, like a shot."

Rita and Mavis at Derek Wilton's funeral
Rita and Mavis at Derek Wilton's funeral -Credit:ITV

Fans were delighted to see the women back together, with one writing alongside a video of them laughing: "This is completely iconic!

@itvcorrie’s Rita and Mavis reunited at @The_RHS Tatton Flower Show." Les Dennis - who has also appeared in Coronation Street - replied: "How wonderful."

Another fan wrote: "I have a great fondness for Rita and Mavis and great admiration for the two ladies who brought them to life." A fellow Corrie fan tweeted: "Oh my! I’ve had a rotten old day but this has made me cry with joy!"

Thelma also starred in Rita’s very own documentary ‘Barbara Knox at 90’ where lots of Rita’s friends and co-stars looked back at her most memorable moments over the years.