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Thelma's Gypsy Girls

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Dressmaker Thelma Madine, the fairy godmother of Gypsy wedding dresses, trains a group of gypsy and traveller girls to create elaborate wedding outfits

About the Show

Dressmaker Thelma Madine, the fairy godmother of Gypsy wedding dresses, trains a group of gypsy and traveller girls to create elaborate wedding outfits

Series 1 Summary

Dressmaker Thelma Madine, from Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, has a reputation for creating incredible wedding dresses for gypsies and travellers, and has worked closely with the community for over 15 years. But now Thelma's decided she wants to give something back to the people who put her on the map.

With business booming, Thelma needs to expand to keep up with demand. So she's taking on a group of inexperienced gypsy and traveller girls as trainees.

But with no prior work experience, can these young girls really learn to make such intricate dresses in just six months?

For the girls, it's the chance of a lifetime, but Thelma has worked hard to gain the trust of the community - one false move and the dream could be over...

  • Episode 1

    Thelma begins the search for her 10 new trainees. All of them are Gypsies or Travellers, some left school at 11 and some are unable to read, write or even tell the time.

    Thelma's hopefuls include headstrong 16-year-old Margaret from a local trailer site, who doesn't like being told what to do regardless of who's telling her; 17-year-old Kathleen, whose domestic duties include looking after her 17 nieces and nephews; and 16-year-old Rosanne, who desperately lacks education and thinks Lady Gaga worships the devil.

    For the girls it's the opportunity of a lifetime, for existing staff it feels like a serious upheaval, and for Thelma it could be out of the frying pan and into the fire.

  • Episode 2

    Thelma's girls begin their course in dressmaking. Feisty 16-year-old Irish traveller Margaret struggles with authority and clashes with fellow trainee Bridget.

    As tensions rise Shannon, the youngest of the group, does something Thelma can only describe as 'pure evil' and is suspended from the course.

    Thelma starts to realise that her good intentions could seriously jeopardise her business.

  • Episode 3

    With Thelma off work with exhaustion, the factory slides into chaos. And then Shannon drops a bombshell. Can Thelma's scheme survive?

    Employing 10 new trainees - with most of the girls having no qualifications, minimal history of work and some of them unable to read and write - is a potential risk to Thelma's business. She decides to hire a tutor to help with basic literacy and numeracy.

    Later, with Thelma away, even her loyal staff turn on each other. And then Shannon reveals that she lied about her age orginally, and is not of the legal age to work.

  • Episode 4

    Thelma mixes family and business, inviting Margaret to stay in her own home.

    Pressure mounts for the team as tragedy hits Grace's family and she has to leave to attend a traditional gypsy funeral.

    The girls are tasked with creating their own Lycra dresses to showcase the skills they've learnt on the course, but some of them refuse to wear their own creations.

    Bridget storms out of the factory, threatening never to return.

    And Thelma invites the girls to her home for a party for her little girl's birthday.

  • Episode 5

    Shannon, Kathleen, Vicky and Megan are tasked with working on their first gypsy wedding dress. But two of the girls squander their chance to impress Thelma.

    Margaret and Lilyann make the mistake of breaking one of Thelma's golden rules, resulting in Thelma losing the sale of a very expensive dress. The girls are sent home without pay.

    Lilyann is adamant she's been mistreated and her mother heads to the factory to have words.

    And the girls are given the chance to run a stall at the traditional Stow Fair.

  • Episode 6

    Just as Thelma's course is coming to an end, an allegation of racism explodes in the factory and Thelma has to face the daily prejudices of being a Traveller.

    The girls have one last challenge: to design their own dresses and showcase them on a catwalk in front of their friends and family.

    For inspiration, the girls visit a fashion museum, but the cultural differences between Travellers and non-Travellers become all too apparent, and an event leaves the girls shocked and angry.

    There's a surprising late twist when two of the girls decide to leave the course, but the remaining trainees hold a fabulous final fashion show, showcasing everything they have learnt. All that remains for Thelma to do is pick who she will give the coveted jobs to...

Thelma's Gypsy Girls synopsis

Dressmaker Thelma Madine, the fairy godmother of Gypsy wedding dresses, trains a group of gypsy and traveller girls to create elaborate wedding outfits

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6 Episodes