Express & Star

Ex-Coronation Street queens bring Penkridge auction house down with antique antics

Two queens of the cobbles were reunited for a spot of TV treasure-hunting – and turned a sober auction room into a riotous comedy set when they took over the selling.


Former Coronation Street stars Thelma Barlow, who played mousy Mavis Riley, and Anne Reid, who was Ken Barlow's first wife Val, were in Penkridge for an episode of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.

The pair had already bought their bargain pieces and were at Cuttlestone's in Pinfold Lane for the auction.

Not best pleased at seeing their prize purchases going for a song, the women were up on their sensible flat shoes in a flash and giving it some patter. "Right, we're taking over," said 78-year-old Anne, as the twosome managed to push up the bids with their persuasive banter.

Thelma, 83, attempted to play a late 19th century accordian as Anne warbled a couple of lines from Scarborough Fair. Soon they were on their feet again to sell a Georgian tea set. "Now this is very Downtown Abbey," enthused Anne. "Lady Mary would have had one in her boudoir. Tea, Thelma?"

The 200-strong throng loved the series of impromptu sketches, responding with more generous offers. The pair are great friends since appearing together in Victoria Wood's comedy Dinnerladies. Although both ex-Corrie, they never appeared in the soap together, Anne left in 1971 six months before Thelma started a 26-year stint.

Neither watches the programme anymore. "Too busy in the garden or seeing my friends," said Dorset-based Thelma, who has written a book about organic gardening.

Anne, too, rarely stops still long enough to switch on the set. She did a five-night cabaret residency in London just last week and is looking forward to the start of filming next month for a second series of BBC1's Last Tango In Halifax.

The programme, which raised money for Children In Need, is due to be screened in November

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