Distinguished actress Thelma Barlow has officially opened Teesside University's annual Creative Arts Week event.
Dr Barlow was born in Middlesbrough and awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University in 2008. She is famous throughout the UK as Coronation Street's Mavis Riley, whom she played for nearly 2,000 episodes over 26 years. Dr Barlow has also appeared in the film Mrs Henderson Presents alongside Dame Judi Dench and other TV roles include Dolly in Victoria Wood's Dinner Ladies, a role written specifically for her and Doctor Who, Marple, David Copperfield and Fat Friends.
Dr Barlow said: "It's lovely to be back in Middlesbrough, I don't visit the area very often and the changes in the town have been incredible. I was thrilled to be given the Doctorate and am particularly happy to be back here at this very vibrant University. There's a great feeling of care and bonding towards the students from their lecturers. I've been to other universities and nowhere are these feelings as strong as they are here. The teaching is absolutely geared to helping students progress into professions. They are immensely lucky."
After opening the event, Dr Barlow toured the Design and Fine Art shows to look at the work of final-year students, and also spoke to Performing Arts students, advising them on the demands and requirements of an acting career. She added: "I've been very fortunate to see this work, it's just stunning to see and so imaginative. Imagination is one of the greatest gifts we have."
Matthew Gray, a final-year BA (Hons) Performance for Live and Recorded Media student, was one of those to speak to Dr Barlow. Matthew, from Beverley, North Yorkshire, said: "Thelma was very inspirational and I was honoured to get advice from her. It was nice to meet someone of that professional stature on a one-to-one level, her advice was very grounded and caring."
During Creative Arts week final-year projects in design, fine art, film, dance and performing arts and creative writing were on display at the University, showcasing student talent from the School of Arts & Media.