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Villains Wiki

If anybody asks, you fell, understand? You shan't say anything to anyone, because if you do, believe me, what you did to Susan will come out, I'll make sure of it! You killed one of my children! And if you cause Peter to suffer, I'll make you suffer, and that's a promise!
~ Ken Barlow blackmailing Billy Mayhew to keep quiet about Peter's involvement in his injuries.

Ken Barlow is a fictional character the central protagonist of the long-running British Soap Opera Coronation Street, in which he appeared in the very first episode in December 1960 and has remained since then onwards. At times, Ken has often been depicted in a shady light and also briefly taken on the role as the anti-villain during the show's history.

The character Ken Barlow is the father of Peter Barlow and Tracy Barlow, as well as the grandfather of Adam Barlow and Simon Barlow.

He was portrayed by William Roache since his first appearance in the show's very first ever episode from 1960 onwards.


Ken Barlow appeared in the very first episode in December 1960, as the son of working class parents Ida and Frank Barlow; he also had a younger brother David. Ken attended university, which made him become snobbish about his working class life and looking down on his family and neighbors, which put him into conflict with his father. After graduating university, he began working as a teacher at the local primary school.

In 1962, he got into a conflict with neighbor Len Fairclough when Ken wrote an article criticizing the working class and referring to them as lazy. When he insulted Len, Ken ended up being knocked out in front of the pub after a brief scuffle.

Ken married Valerie Tatlock, the niece of next door neighbor and family friend Albert Tatlock. During the marriage, Ken's shadier and darker personality crept to the surface, in which he would cheat behind Valerie's back. On another occasion, he assaulted her by grabbing and throwing her onto the bed, which was due to Ken not getting a promotion at work. Valerie considered leaving Ken, but later returned to him to work on the marriage. Things began to work out better for the pair, and they had twin children together named Peter and Susan, but happiness came to an end for Ken when Valerie died in a flat fire in 1971.

Ken sent his children to live with Valerie's parents in Glasgow and had little to do with their upbringing. After numerous relationships, he settled with a woman named Janet and they quickly married, but when she wasn't interested in being a mother to his kids he promptly split from her. When Janet wanted his help in 1977 after suffering psychological problems, Ken refused and she committed suicide.

A recurring part of Ken's character is his attempt to leave his working class roots and do better, but never being able to leave the street. Despite this, he would still look down on people due to his education, which would create problems with some of his neighbors, especially as Ken wasn't perfect in personality and behavior.

Ken began a relationship with Deirdre Langton, and the pair married in 1981. He became a father figure to her daughter Tracy, and would later adopt her years down the line. By this point Ken's children were older, and moved on with their lives.

Ken confronting Deirdre after finding out about her affair with Mike Baldwin.

In 1983, Ken began to get into a feud with local businessman Mike Baldwin, following Mike's affair with Deirdre. During an argument with Deirdre after Mike came to the door, Ken's violent side surfaced and he briefly strangled Deirdre, causing her to flee in terror to the kitchen and cry. Ken came to his senses, but believed that the marriage was over. But Deirdre chose Ken over Mike, which cemented Ken's long running feud with the businessman.

In 1986, Ken found out his now 21 year old daughter Susan was in a relationship with Mike. Ken went to Mike's workplace the factory and assaulted him by knocking the man to the ground. When Ken discovered Susan intended to marry Mike, he refused to walk her down the aisle, but was later talked round by Peter, who pointed out Ken wasn't there for them growing up. Ken then gave his daughter away to Mike, albeit very reluctantly. Ken continued to resent Mike after the latter's relationship with Susan collapsed. During this time, Ken turned down a business proposition from fellow entreprenur Alan Bradley.

In 1990, Ken cheated on Deirdre by having an affair with Wendy Crozier - which resulted in the end of their marriage. Ken found himself an unpopular guy on the street, and at one point he and Mike got into another fight; Mike won when he thumped Ken shortly before the brawl was broken up by local hardman Jim McDonald. Over the years he began to rebuild up his reputation, and moved back when things cooled down. At one point, he even rushed to Mike's aid after the latter was nearly killed by his business rival Don Brennan in a car accident; Don had been killed in the inferno instead.

In 1998, Ken and Mike were forced to team up when Deirdre is wrongfully imprisoned for fraud - when in reality her former new fiance, Jon Lindsay, was responsible for the crime and ended up setting up Deirdre to take the blame for his illict activities. Ken and Mike argued over their respective choices on how to help exonerate Deirdre, but ultimately they were successful after Jon's bigmay crime was exposed; Deirdre was released and Jon was jailed.

Later on, Ken and Deirdre rekindled their relationship and Ken later stood up to Mike for confronting him over her choice. As such Ken also lectured Mike for two-timing on his wife Alma after an incident with Mike saw him being blackmailed by his former employee Greg Kelly. Soon enough, the feud appeared to have slowed down after Ken and Mike were held hostage in a robbery perpetuated by gunman Dean Sykes and his accomplice Lenny Larkin; the pair had an unlikely team-up again in order to overcome the robbery.

In 2001, however, the feud resurfaced when Mike learned that Susan had been parenting their son Adam without his knowledge and began hassling her for custody. Thereafter Susan died in an attempt for her and Adam to escape from Mike, after which Ken blamed Mike for Susan's death and the pair engaged in a custody battle that ended with Adam convincing them to put their differences aside for his sake. From then onwards, Ken and Mike started to get along with each other - with Ken even comforting Mike after the latter's marriage with Dean's sister Linda had collapsed. Mike also comforted Ken on the anniversary of Susan's death, and in return Ken arranged a surprise birthday party for Mike.

In 2002, Ken was being tormented by his school pupil Aidan Critchley for months. Eventually Ken lost it with Aidan and hit him in a fit of rage after Aidan had gloated over the fact that he got away with a crime - he hijacked Ken's car with his girlfriend Sarah Platt and crashed the vehicle before leaving Sarah to die in an accident; Sarah survived but was traumatized by the ordeal. Ken resigned as the schoolteacher and was later arrested for assaulting Aidan, but was released on bail and the charges against him were dismissed.

In 2003, Ken learns that Aidan has been arrested for the murder of local hairdresser Maxime Peacock and is requested to visit him in prison. When he does, Ken believes that Aidan is innocent and ends up getting ostricised by this as everyone believed that Aidan is the killer; in truth, though, Maxine's killer was actually Sarah's villainous stepfather Richard Hillman. In the end, Ken is apologized by everyone when Aidan's innocence is proven after Richard's crimes were exposed; Ken later parted ways with Aidan in good terms on the day after Richard died trying to drown Sarah's family to no avail.

As the years went on, Ken's relationship with Deirdre nearly collapses when she has an affair with shopkeeper Dev Allen. But in the end Ken and Deirdre not only reconcile, but they end up getting married again in 2005. A year later one day, Ken sees Mike on the street with pyjamas and goes to comfort him - as Mike is suffering from Alzeimer's Disease at that stag. Ken attempts to help Mike get inside, but is forced to call an ambulance when Mike collapses on the ground in pain; the two rivals then talk about their past before Mike suffers a heart attack, and Ken watches on in shock as Mike sccumbs to his condition and dies in front of his archenemy. Ken helps Deirdre mourn Mike at his funeral despite their differences.

In 2007, Ken again supports Deirdre when their daughter Tracy is jailed for life for killing her cheating boyfriend Charlie Stubbs and attempting to get her parents to make a fake testimony about it. In 2008, Ken attempts to comfort Sarah's brother David Platt when the latter causes destruction on the street; David responds by attacking Ken with a pole shortly before getting arrested. In 2009, Ken supports his son Peter over his alcoholism and the latter's relationship troubles with both his estranged wife Leanne Battersby and their son Simon.

In late 2016, Ken began to alienate himself from his family when he talked his son Daniel Osbourne's girlfriend Sinead into aborting their child - feeling she wasn't right for Daniel and that things wouldn't work. She carried out the deed, which caused an angry Daniel to push Ken down the stairs and almost kill him. Other people were suspected such as Peter, Tracy, Adam and Pat Phelan, as they had problems with Ken due to the way he treated them. When it turned out Daniel was the culprit, Ken decided not to inform the police.

After Peter was responsible for causing local vicar Billy Mayhew to fall from a cliff and almost die, Ken visited Billy in hospital and threatened him to not go to the police, as Ken knew that Billy was indirectly involved in Susan's death in a car accident back in 2001. This threat meant Peter got off the hook for the abduction and near manslaughter of Billy.


  • Peter Barlow - Son
  • Daniel Osbourne - Son
  • Tracy Barlow - Adoptive daughter
  • Adam Barlow - Grandson
  • Simon Barlow - Grandson
  • Leanne Battersby - Former daughter-in-law
  • Carla Connor - Current daughter-in-law
  • Frank Barlow - Father (deceased)
  • Ida Barlow - Mother (deceased)
  • David Barlow - Brother (deceased)
  • Valerie Barlow - First wife (deceased)
  • Janet Barlow - Second wife (deceased)
  • Deirdre Barlow - Third wife (deceased)
  • Susan Barlow - Daughter (deceased)

Villainous deeds

  • Abandoning his family.
  • Arrested for a protest in the 1960s, resulting in a prison sentence.
  • Leaving his infant children home alone which nearly resulted in them dying in a near fire.
  • Threatening Billy to keep quiet about his near death experience at the hands of Peter Barlow.
  • Selling a car to Curly Watts without telling him it needed repairs.
  • He assaulted his Student Aidan Critchley, breaking his nose. To be fair, he was heavily provoked and genuinely remorseful about what he'd done.


  • Ken is currently the only member of the original cast from 1960 to still be in the show.
  • Ken was absent from the show from April 2013 to August 2014 due to William Roache being accused of sex offenses dating back to the 1960s. Following his trial and not being found guilty, he returned full-time again.