British TV and film star Julie Walters has for the first time revealed how close she was to being sexually assaulted as a 10-year-old.

Julie, 58, told The Mirror that a paedophile tried to abduct her and three friends, one of them only five.

“He tried to get us into a derelict house. He touched me. It was nothing horrific, but it could have been.

“It was the start of a sexual assault. There were three of us, plus a little one, and you’d think there’d have been safety in numbers. But we were so frightened of him we’d have done anything.”

Julie, from the West Midlands, was approached by the man as she played with her friends in the garden of the derelict house. She attended a strict convent school and would have been beaten by nuns if she had been discovered.

She said: “This man came up and threatened us, saying ‘The nuns wouldn’t like to know you’re playing here’. He was right – they were scary.

“We ran into another garden. But he followed us. He made us stand on a wall, said ‘Stay there’ and went looking for somewhere to take us.

“Then he came back and tried to get us into the house. He was desperate and really agitated. We managed to attract the attention of some people at a bus stop and ran away. I thank God those people were there because we were so scared.”

The girls’ fear of the nuns led them to keep a vow of silence from their parents and the police.

Julie said: “If the nuns hadn’t been so awful we’d have told someone. I thought it would frighten my parents and didn’t dare tell them. I only told my mum about it when I was 35.”

The legendary actress said her memories of the incident only came flooding back when she started writing her autobiography.