Thelma Barlow (née Pigott) is an English television actress and writer, most famous for her roles as Mavis Wilton in the long-running ITV soap opera Coronation Street and as Dolly Bellfield in the sitcom Dinnerladies.Thelma Barlow was born in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, the younger of two daughters. Her father, Tommy, a cabinet maker, died of pneumonia five weeks before her birth, and Barlow was brought up by her mother Margaret. During her childhood the family moved to Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Barlow left school at 15 and went to Huddersfield Technical College to study shorthand and typing. Her first job was as a secretary, which she held for eight years and at the same time belonged to an amateur dramatics group. Barlow decided to take up acting professionally and joined the Joan Littlewood Theatre Group. During the 1950s she did rep in Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham. In 1960 Barlow joined the West of England Theatre Company followed by the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company. In Bristol she ran a boarding house for fellow actors. In 1956 she married set designer Graham Barlow; they subsequently had two children, Clive and James. They divorced in 1983.Thelma Barlows first television appearance was in 1970s A Stranger on the Hill. The following year while performing in Liverpool she was asked to audition for the soap opera Coronation Street for the role of Mavis Riley. She was successful and her first episode was transmitted on 14 August 1971, though the character appeared regularly only from 1973, when she joined the staff of "The Kabin". Barlow remained in the series for 26 years, appearing in nearly 2,000 episodes, until she left after the departure of her on-screen husband Derek. Her final episode was broadcast 10 October 1997 when Mavis moved to the Lake District. During her time on Coronation Street Barlow shared a flat with co-star Helen Worth and later moved to Settle, where she later did a TV show from her garden.Barlows next major role was that of Dolly Bellfield in Victoria Woods sitcom Dinnerladies, which ran for two series from 1998 to 2000.Since her departure from Coronation Street Barlow has also made stage appearances.In June 2014, Barlow narrated 30-minute documentary "Gail & Me: 40 Years on Coronation Street" which celebrated Helen Worths career on Coronation Street as Gail Platt.