Kenneth "Ken" Barlow is the central protagonist in Coronation Street, who has appeared continuously since Episode 1 (9 Dec 1960). He has been involved in many affairs since then. Ken is the longest serving character in the show of all time, having appeared almost continuously since 1960, apart from a break from April 2013 to August 2014 due to personal issues surrounding William Roache, the actor who plays him.

The character has been involved in many storylines over the years, mostly dealing with his love life and conflicts with his family, which has been going on since the show's inception. Most recently he was involved in a big storyline involving a stroke, which then led onto a major whodunnit plot "Who Attacked Ken Barlow?", in which Ken was found unconscious at the bottom of the stairs after weeks of outbursts and alienating people. Another recurring part of his character is his frustration at being stuck on the same street, and still hopes to make something better of his life, even in old age. Ken has made many futile attempts to start a new life elsewhere, but has always found himself back on the street.

In 2018, he started channeling Marlon Brando as the next Godfather, with him making threats to Billy Mayhew for being involved in Susan's death, and making sure the Barlow's shady secrets are kept hidden from the outside world. After being a boring old fart for decades Ken probably needs a new lease of life. He will step down from his duties as don and retire, leaving the family business to his children.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Backstory[edit | edit source]

Kenneth Barlow was born on the 9th October 1939 at Number 1 Coronation Street. Due to an air raid, his mum Ida Barlow gave birth to him unaided under the kitchen table. His father Frank Barlow was either at work or in service. In July 1942, aged almost 3, Ken became an older brother to David Barlow. Ken was educated at Bessie Street School. In 1957 aged 18, Ken went to university and this made him a bit stuck up and he started to shun his working class roots. In late 1960 Ken dated uni student Susan Cunningham. Ken was unaware that in November, he got her pregnant.

1960-2013[edit | edit source]

In December 1960, Ken was romancing Susan, who, unbeknown to him, was a few weeks pregnant. In early January 1961 Ken and Susan were involved in a "Ban The Bomb" protest. They separated just after, as he was from a backstreet and she was from a middle class family. Susan later found she was pregnant and sent a letter but it somehow was not found and was accidentally slipped behind the skirting board near the front door. The letter was to remain unfound for the next 50 years. In August 1961, Susan had a son, Lawrence Cunningham, and Ken never knew at the time that he had become a father that month.

In January 1962, budding journalist Ken slammed his roots, criticising the working class. This lead to a huge fight between him and Len Fairclough in The Rovers Return. Ken started dating Valerie Tatlock, his neighbour Albert's niece. They married in August 1962.

Ken became a father to twins in April 1965. Peter Francis Barlow and Susan Ida Barlow. Ken had an affair in January 1966. In 1971 Val was electrocuted when her and Ken moved into the new masionettes on the other side of Coronation Street. Peter and Susan were sent to live with their aunty Edith in Glasgow, Scotland. Ken briefly dated Elaine Perkins in 1973. Ken soon married Janet Reid in 1973. In January 1977 Janet died of an overdose. Ken grieved for Janet. He soon started romancing Deirdre Hunt once her husband Ray Langton emigrated after cheating on her. Deirdre and Ray later divorced.

Ken often locked horns with neighbour Mike Baldwin who was a bit of a spiv, the flash wheeler dealer. In July 1981 Ken married Deirdre and he became a much better father to her daughter Tracy Barlow (formerly Langton) than Ray ever was. But Deirdre saw Ken as a boring old man who liked reading books when not teaching. Deirdre started to seek comfort in Mike Baldwin who was much more fun than Ken. In early 1983 the truth emerged and Ken said "With a spiv like Baldwin!!!". But Ken and Deirdre agreed to give their marriage another go, saying it was a catalyst for him to change and be a better husband. But Ken and Mike carried on being arch rivals. In 1984 Ken was in charge at The Weatherfield Recorder. Somehow Billy Walker found out about Ken and Deirdre. The only other person to know outside Ken, Deirdre and Mike was Emily. Billy tried to use what he knew to get Emily and Deirdre to do favours for him but Mike had something on Billy, he heard about Billy's dodgy dealings in Jersey and shut him up. Deirdre worried that Ken was too friendly with his secretary Sally Waterman and she worried it was payback for Mike.

In January 1986, Kenb found out that Mike Baldwin was dating his daughter Susan Barlow who was 23 years younger

Ken in February 1988.

than Mike. Ken thumped Mike in his office at Baldwin's Casuals. But Ken soon became Mike's father in law when Mike married Susan. The marriage was short lived.

In 1989, Ken cheated on Deirdre with Wendy Crozier. This ended his marriage to Deirdre. In 1990 Ken and Mike had another altercation in the pub where Mike won, getting his own back from Ken punching him 4 years earlier. Ken later started to date Denise Osbourne. In 1994 she fell pregnant with his child and in January 1995 Ken became a father again at 55 to Daniel Albert Osbourne, the middle name was given after Ken's late uncle by marriage Albert Tatlock. But Denise was unfaithful to Ken and Ken attacked the man Denise was seeing. Denise left, leaving Daniel with Ken but she soon took him back.

Ken and Deirdre remain close and in 1999 they reunite. Ken gives up teaching and works for Freshco's as a trolley dolley but has to wear a staff name badge that says "Kenny". Ken turns 60 in October 1999 and gets a call from a friend he knew back in 1962. Plans to tarmac Coronation Street take place in 2000 and Ken and Duggie Ferguson try to stop it. They find out about a preservation order and the tarmac plans are abandoned. In February 2001, Ken is devastated when his daughter Susan dies in a car crash.

Ken and Deirdre cannot resist betraying one another when she dates Dev Alahan. Ken later dates Martha Fraser.

Ken left the street in April 2013 to be with his sick grandson Adam, who had collapsed at work. Ken left Deirdre to take care of Barlow family issues.

2014-[edit | edit source]

Ken returned in August 2014 after over a year away, unaware of the high drama in his family's life over the past year at that his son Peter is in prison accused of murdering his lover Tina McIntyre. Ken was angry that Deirdre didn't inform her and yelled at her, but eventually mellowed and the pair of them went on a short break in Wales.

Due to the high tensions and family issues Deirdre left in October 2014 for a break, which Ken was fine with as he realised how upset she was. Much to his devastation Peter was found guilty for Tina's murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison. But it soon turned out Tracy's fiancé Rob Donovan was the true killer, and he got exposed on her wedding day and later arrested. Peter got released, but chose to leave Weatherfield.

Ken was widowed a third time in July 2015 when Deirdre passed away.

Shortly after losing Deirdre, Ken developed feelings for Audrey Roberts. In October 2016, Ken;s wayward son Peter came back to Weatherfield after 2 years in Portsmouth. He denied that he was drinking again and he had a row with Ken and Ken the suffered a stroke. Peter helped him and Ken was taken to Weatherfield General. Tracy blamed Peter for Ken's stroke. Feeling guilty, Peter told Ken that he would leave again if that's what he wants, but Ken built up the strength and told Peter to stay.

In November Ken was visited by his estranged son Daniel. Daniel became a part of the Barlow household as he was willing to help with Ken's care and do his part. Ken soon recovered but throughout late 2016 and early 2017, Ken became more arrogant and judgemental. This may have been due to his stroke. Ken locked horns with Pat Phelan over his renovation works, as Phelan was being slow and lazy. Ken also harshly judged Sinead Tinker over being pregnant with his grandson. Also Ken alienated his grandson Adam Barlow. Ken also said he never loved his wife Deirdre. This angered Peter and Tracy.

In late March Ken was pushed down the stairs by a mystery assailant. The list of suspects was Pat Phelan, Sinead Tinker, Peter Barlow, Tracy Barlow, Adam Barlow and Daniel Osbourne in a Who Attacked Ken Barlow? plot. All suspects gave evidence and Phelan was arrested but he had an alibi.

In late 2017, Ken found out that Billy was involved in the death of Susan in 2001 when he asked the driver to drive away and not call for help. Billy did not know the woman was Susan until 2017. Peter Barlow got revenge on Billy by kidnapping him. Billy fell off the cliff when Peter was holding him hostage, but something broke his fall and he got away with moderate injuries.

Ken confronted Billy in hospital and put on his Don Corleone act when he menacingly told Billy to say that he simply fell and that Peter was not involved. At 78, Ken felt he wanted a new lease of life after being a boring old fart up to then.

Following the death of his former friend and neighbour Dennis Tanner in February 2020, Ken made the decision to finally leave the street after living there 80 years. He will sell up his house to either Tracy or Peter, and move into a luxury retirement home with his latest girlfriend Claudia Colby.

Other information[edit | edit source]

  • In the "Weatherfield" subsection of the Guinness World Records, Ken proudly earned himself as the top shagger, having had over 20 girlfriends, something he continued to do until his old age. Although most of the current residents are now contending for the prize by constantly switching partners on a whim. Although Ken hoped to clock up the most marriages in Weatherfield by getting wedded four times, his record was broken by Steve McDonald who has married seven times, with Gail Rodwell coming in at second place with six marriages. Ken needs to up his game.

Background information[edit | edit source]

  • Ken was nearly axed from the show in 1964 by Tim Aspinall, who had already axed a large amount of cast members including his father Frank and controversially Martha Longhurst whom was killed off. Other characters planned to be axed was wife Valerie and Albert Tatlock, but the three of them were eventually spared.
  • Ken was absent on-screen from April 2013 to August 2014 due to real life personal issues surrounding William Roache. In that time the character's absence was explained by him traveling to Canada to tend to his sick grandson Adam Barlow. This marks the longest period of time for the character of Ken since his debut in the first episode.
  • In late June 1984, Ken was left the only remaining original character after the departure of Albert Tatlock and the brief return of Linda Cheveski. This remained for 27-years from Ep 2424 - 25 Jun 1984 to Ep 7598 - 9 May 2011 as in the following episode, Ep 7599 - 12 May 2011, Dennis Tanner was reintroduced after a 43-year absence, making Ken not the only original character. But Ken became the only surviving original character again when Dennis was axed and left the show in July 2014, only three-years since his return. 
  • Although Ken made the decision to move on from the street in Episode 10,000/10,001, William Roache will continue filming for the show. This is not too surprising, as Roache has made clear in the past he is willing to remain on the show as long as he can still do it.

Memorable info[edit | edit source]

Appearances: 9 December 1960–29 April 2013, 4 August 2014–present

Born: 9th October 1939, Number 1 Coronation Street, Weatherfield

Full Name: Kenneth Barlow

Parents: Frank Barlow and Ida Barlow (Nee Leathers)

Siblings: David Barlow

Grandfathers: Sidney Barlow, George Leathers

Grandmothers: Edna Barlow, Nancy Leathers

Spouses: Valerie Tatlock (1962-1971), Janet Reid (1973-1977), Deirdre Langton (1981-1992, 2005-2015)

Children: Lawrence Cunningham (1961), Susan Barlow (1965), Peter Barlow (1965), Tracy Barlow (1977),(adopted) Daniel Osbourne (1995)

Grandchildren: Adam Barlow, Chloe Cunningham, James Cunningham, Simon Barlow, Amy Barlow (adoptive)

Gallery[edit | edit source]

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