Frank Barlow was a character in Coronation Street from the first episode, Episode 1 (9 Dec 1960), to Ep 361 - 27 May 1964, and again in a guest appearance in Ep 652 - 15 Mar 1967, and one last time in 1971, last appearing in Ep 1049 - 3 Feb 1971. He was the father of Ken Barlow and David Barlow and husband of Ida Barlow. He is the grandfather of Peter Barlow, Susan Barlow, Daniel Osbourne, and Lawrence Cunningham and Tracy Barlow. Frank was played by Frank Pemberton.
Francis Barlow as born on the 19th October 1913 to Sidney Barlow and Edna Barlow. He had an older sister Marjorie Barlow. Frank grew up in Weatherfield. Frank joined the Navy then worked as a postmaster. In May 1938, Frank married Ida Leathers. In October 1939, they had a son Kenneth Barlow. Another son David Barlow was born in July 1942.
Frank Barlow was 47 in 1960. In September 1961, Ida was killed and Frank and Ken warred over it after her death. In February 1962, Frank and Len Fairclough almost came to blows over Frank's son Ken writing an article in the newspapers shunning his working class roots. Ken and Len fought later on. Frank later dated young widow Christine Hardman and they were due to get married. Neighbours were shocked, as Christine was the same age as Frank's son Ken. They both decided to call it a day when the age difference was too much, and he felt more for her than she did for him. Christine later left the area. Frank then opened up a DIY shop.
In 1964, Frank won some money on the pools and decided to leave the dingy Coronation Street for Wilmslow, Cheshire. He seemed to have a slight personality change after winning his money. At his leaving do in May 1964, his neighbour Martha Longhurst died of a heart attack. Frank left the area in late May 1964 without saying goodbye to Ken.
Life after leaving Coronation Street
Frank did not return to see his grandchildren Peter Barlow and Susan Barlow who were born in April 1965, but did return in March 1967 briefly to help persuade Ken to pay a £5 fine or go to jail for a week, and being involved in a student demo. Ken chose the latter. Frank then returned to Wilmslow.
In February 1971 Frank made one last visit to Weatherfield for the funeral of his daughter in law Valerie Barlow. Valerie had died after being electrocuted. Frank did not seem to be in the best of health and his voice was slower. Before the actual service, Billy Walker asked Frank how Bramhall was. Frank said it was nice.
Frank returned to Cheshire after Val's funeral in February 1971 and died inbetween then and April 1975.
Frank was said to be dead by 21st April 1975 but the exact date of death was never revealed. Ken and his son Peter were talking about Frank, and Peter asked if grandad Frank was still alive and Ken said "No".
In December 1990, when Ken was depressed over his marriage problems, he looked at old family photos, which included Frank. Ken considered suicide but was talked out of it by Bet Gilroy.
In June 2020, Ken mentioned his father Frank. As of October 2020 Frank is still alive and age 107, although he has no contact with Ken anymore. Ken assumes his father to be dead. Frank is living in a care home in Wilmslow.
In September 2021, Frank, now aged almost 108, probably wept at remembering the 60th anniversary of Ida's tragic death. On 19th October 2021, Frank had his 108th birthday. Frank must watch the news a lot and is bewildered at how Coronation Street seems to feature so much with its sinkholes, tram crash, fires, explosions and serial killers. Yet he never bothers to contact ken to tell him to move away from the world's most dangerous street.
- Frank Barlow was axed from the programme along with several other cast members (controversially one of them being Martha Longhurst who was killed off) by Tim Aspinall. Frank Pemberton suffered health issues after leaving the show and found work hard to come by. In February 1965 he suffered a stroke which badly affected his health. In 1967 he made a one-off return, which was to see if he was up for a comeback but it was clear he was still not in the best of health and the idea of a full-time comeback never went any further. He made another one-off return in 1971 as part of the funeral of his on-screen daughter Valerie Barlow, but this would be his last contribution as Pemberton died six-weeks later.
- Some sources carry Frank's date of death as occurring on the 21st April 1975. However in that actual episode, Ep 1487 - 21 Apr 1975, Peter Barlow asks his dad Ken if his grandfather (Frank) is still alive, in which Ken says no, therefore Frank's death preceded that event. In reality actor Frank Pemberton passed away on the 26th March 1971. Frank Barlow definitely died sometime inbetween February 1971 and April 1975. However it is most likely that Ken would have been told of his father's death offscreen. Because of this, the 60 Years of Coronation Street book omits this as the official date of death, although it doesn't provide a new death date for Frank Barlow, thus leaving it still unknown. Interestingly enough because no new date of death is added, the Barlow family tree seems to indicate that Frank is somehow still alive (despite the 1975 episode confirming his death), although he would be 107 and Ken would obviously mention his very elderly father.
- The only way we would know for sure Frank's death is if Ken ever visited his grave (which is highly unlikely), of if Ken mentioned an anniversary of his father's death, or if a writer/producer decided to create an accurate date of death for the character. As of 2020 Frank's death date has yet to be officially confirmed.
- Peter Barlow (played by Chris Gascoyne since 2000) bears quite a strong resemblance to his grandfather Frank. This puts paid to any tiny possibility that Albert Tatlock was Ken's biological father, and that he had a brief fling with Ida in January 1939, 9 months before Ken's birth. Ken always saw Albert as a father to him much more than Frank, and Albert saw Ken as a son. However the remotest possibility of such a revelation happening would mean Ken married his own cousin Val Tatlock (Albert's niece) in 1962 and Peter's parents were first cousins.
Appearances: 9 December 1960–27 May 1964, 15 March 1967, 3 February 1971
Born: 19th October 1913
Died: Prior to 21 April 1975 (Inbetween Feb 1971 and 21 April 1975)
Full Name: Francis Barlow
Siblings: Marjorie Barlow
Spouse: Ida Leathers (1938-1961)