James Cunningham is a character in Coronation Street, appearing originally in September 2010 and then from April to July 2011. He is the crooked grandson of Ken Barlow and Susan Cunningham, and the son of Ken's illegitimate son Lawrence Cunningham, whom Ken didn't discover existed until 2010.

He was played by James Roache, the real life son of William Roache who portrays Ken Barlow.



James was born at some point in the 1980s to Lawrence Cunningham, and was soon followed by a sister Chloe. James and Chloe's mother would later pass away at an unknown point, and their grandmother Susan passed away in the 2000s. James shared a strained relationship with his father, especially as Lawrence didn't approve of James being gay and that it made him uncomfortable.


In August 2010 Ken Barlow discovered that his old girlfriend from back in 1960 Susan Cunningham was pregnant, however the letter she sent him became stuck behind the skirting board at his old home Number 3 Coronation Street, which in present day was discovered by current occupant Norris Cole. After visiting Susan's sister Ken discovered Susan was dead, but managed to make contact with his son Lawrence, who was no doubt Ken's son due to their striking resemblance.

A day following Ken's meeting with Lawrence, James turned up at Ken's house to meet his grandfather. Ken was shocked when he discovered that Lawrence didn't approve of James being gay and tried to unite father and son, but Lawrence wasn't having none of it and stood by his views, not wanting to allow Ken to change his mind. Disappointed, Ken ordered Lawrence to leave and the pair ended up losing contact. James was grateful however for Ken understanding him, and they kept in touch. That Christmas James sent Ken and his family a card.

In April 2011 when the charity James worked for opened up a homeless hostel nearby Coronation Street, James turned up at Ken's home Number 1 Coronation Street asking if he could move in, much to Ken's pleasure although his wife Deirdre didn't approve as there is enough occupants. During his stay in Coronation Street James got to know the neighbours, which included Sophie Webster and her girlfriend Sian Powers, who became interested in James' charity work and later got a job at the hostel. Unknown to them, Ken or the Barlow family, James was in actuality as a conman, who was in cahoots with his crooked bosses to use the hostel as a front for their schemes to get money off people.

Behind the ScenesEdit

  • In reality, James Roache and Linus Roache are the real life sons of William Roache, who plays long-running character Ken Barlow. They were brought into Coronation Street for a short stint in September 2010 as part of the 50th Anniversary of the show, and for a chance for them to act alonside their dad (Linus had previously appeared in the show as Ken's son Peter Barlow from 1973 to 1975, a role now occupied by Chris Gascoyne).
  • James returned to the role for a slightly longer stint for three months from April to July 2011.
  • James' other Coronation Street related work was for the 2010 biopic The Road to Coronation Street, in which he portrayed his father.

Memorable InfoEdit

Appearances: 6–10 September 2010, 29 April–21 July 2011

Parents: Lawrence Cunningham and Unnamed mother

Grandparents: Ken Barlow, Susan Cunningham

Great-grandparents: Frank Barlow, Ida Barlow, Mr. Cunningham