Ken Barlow

DOB: 1939

Marital status: Married to Deirdre

Address: 1 Coronation Street

Occupation: Retired teacher

Ken Barlow has graced the cobbles since the first show in December 1960. Born and bred in Coronation Street, Ken - son of postman Frank and cleaner Ida - was the first resident on the Street to go to university.

Despite a good education, Ken never reached the dizzy heights of success professionally. He's had numerous jobs, including teacher, taxi driver, lecturer, journalist and even supermarket trolley collector.

Ken has gone through more girlfriends than most of the Street’s male residents put together. He’s had flings with Bet Lynch, Wendy Crozier, Alma Baldwin and Elaine Perkins (played by Joanna Lumley), and despite being in his 70s he isn't done yet, if rumours are to be believed...

It was all the way back in 1962 that he married first wife Valerie Tatlock. Together they had twins Peter and Susan; however, that didn't stop him having another fling with reporter Jackie Marsh. Tragedy struck when Valerie died after being electrocuted by a rogue hairdryer. Ken, unable to cope, sent the twins to be brought up here in Scotland by her parents.

His next attempt at marriage was to town clerk Janet Reid, but that ended in disaster when she heartlessly refused to play stepmum to his kids.

Perhaps that was for the best though, for there was one woman who truly captured Ken's heart - divorcee Deirdre Langton, whom he married in 1981 (in the process adopting her daughter Tracy). But again, it wasn't to end well... at least initially. This time it was Ken’s wife who subsequently strayed, straight into the arms of Ken’s bitter rival Mike Baldwin.

Deirdre eventually stuck with Ken, but their marriage was doomed after he had an affair with his secretary Wendy Crozier. The couple divorced in 1990 and an insatiable Ken went out on the lookout for wife number four, as though he hadn't caused enough misery already. Denise Osbourne became the mother of Ken's latest child, Daniel, but their relationship ended when it was revealed she had been having an affair with her brother-in-law. (As you do.)

Years on from their first relationship, Ken reconciled with Deirdre, and the pair married again in 2005. The couple seemed stronger than ever but when Tracy was sent to prison for killing Charlie Stubbs, Deirdre threw Ken out of the house as the strain took its toll on their marriage. Ken met up with Denise Osbourne again and moved in to her flat. Denise took this as a sign that Ken wanted to get back together with her again but he let her down gently and moved back in with Deirdre.

Ken has also been the most unlikely of male escorts and one of his clients, Babs Fanshawe, died halfway through their meal. Ken was generously labelled a “gigolo” when the Weatherfield Gazetee ran a feature implicating the escort agency in Babs’ death.

So, what's next for Ken?  Glamorous US TV soap siren Stephanie Beacham is venturing on to the Street in the new year, playing eccentric theatre actress Martha, who lives on a canal boat and meets Ken while he's out walking Eccles the dog. It apparently starts off innocently enough, but it looks like their friendship might just blossom into something more...

 

William Roache MBE has played Ken Barlow since 1960 and is the only living member of the soap who has been in the show since the first episode. Although he started out studying medicine, after National Service he stayed in the army (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) and became a captain, spending five years in the services with postings in Jamaica, British Guiana, Bermuda, Germany and Oman. After leaving the army, Bill turned to various acting roles. While filming Biggles at Granada, Corrie creator Tony Warren picked him out to play Ken Barlow.