South Essex schoolgirl, 11, makes Netflix debut in hit Christmas comedy film

South Essex schoolgirl, 11, makes Netflix debut in hit Christmas comedy film <i>(Image: Brentwood School)</i>
South Essex schoolgirl, 11, makes Netflix debut in hit Christmas comedy film (Image: Brentwood School)

A south Essex schoolgirl has rubbed shoulders with musical and film stars as she made her Netflix debut in a new Christmas film.

Brentwood School starlet Delilah O'Riordan is starring in festive comedy drama Christmas on Mistletoe Farm which has opened globally to rave reviews.

As a Year 7 Performing Arts Scholar, Delilah is no stranger to the spotlight. At just 11 years old, she is already credited with an impressive stage and screen acting CV.

Christmas on Mistletoe Farm is currently in the top ten most watched films on Netflix in 59 countries.

The Netflix project saw her meet showbiz royalty including Celia Imrie, best known for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Calendar Girls and Absolutely Fabulous, and Scott Garnham, whose credits include Pompidou and Billy Elliot The Musical.

Christmas on Mistletoe Farm, directed by Debbie Isitt - who wrote and directed all four Nativity! films - is about a widowed father, who after inheriting a farm at Christmastime makes a bumpy adjustment to village life while his children hatch a plan to stay there forever.

The movie was filmed in Birmingham and around the West Midlands this spring.

Delilah, who plays the eldest of the five siblings, Rosie Cunningham, explained: "Working on Christmas on Mistletoe Farm has been without a doubt the most magical adventure of my life so far.

"We, the five Cunningham siblings, lived in a hotel near the set for six weeks and by the end I felt as though I really did have four new younger siblings.

“I love them all and we will be friends for life. Our days on set were filled with amazing things such as cycling, quad biking, swimming, singing, dancing, cuddling newborn animals and so much more. A real kid's dream.

"The adults in the cast were all so warm and friendly and in particular, Scott Garnham (my dad in the film) and Scott Paige (Beano) who made us laugh every day and supported us. I called them Scott Dad and Scott Beano.

"I am also very fond of Celia Imrie who is just one of most wonderful people you could ever meet.

"Debbie Isitt, the director, is a complete genius and I learned so much from working with her. I will always be grateful to her for choosing me to be part of this incredible project.”

Delilah, whose dream is to be a professional film and musical theatre actress, first appeared on stage as a little tot.

Proud mum, Dr Michelle O’Riordan, said: "Delilah started acting when she was very young. My son, Benjamin in the Upper Sixth, joined the Wesley Players in Upminster for their annual pantomime when Delilah was a newborn.

"When she was one she was desperate to join them on stage and ended up in the arms of a lead character for the finale.

"By the time she was three, she had her own lines and played the part of a fairy in Sleeping Beauty. The pantomime review said that she stole the show. She has continued to be part of the Wesley Players ever since."

In January this year, Delilah appeared in an episode of the popular BBC period drama Call the Midwife.

She also filmed two short films in 2022: the first, a short by director Hannah Renton, and the other, by the same director, became a family affair when she starred alongside her little sister, Jasmine, and big brother, Benjamin.

She was also part of the cast for the London Children's Ballet's production of Anne of Green Gables at the Peacock Theatre in May, rehearsing around filming for Christmas on Mistletoe Farm.

But as mum, Dr O’Riordan explained, things could have been very different: “Delilah suffered from severe glue ear causing deafness from the ages of four to eight.

"We were told that most people with her level of hearing loss would give up academically and become disruptive. Delilah didn't do either of those things and this hearing loss makes her achievements all the more remarkable. She is the most tenacious person I know.”

Brentwood School Director of Performing Arts and Music, Mr Florian Cooper, said: “Delilah has already made an impressive start as a Performing Arts Scholar at Brentwood School and we are thrilled with the early success she is achieving in the professional world - her hard work, dedication and maturity are very impressive for one so young, and I very much look forward to seeing her journey unfold over the coming years.”