Ken Barlow is a fictional long-running character in the British Soap Opera Coronation Street, in which he appeared in the very first episode in December 1960 and has remained since then as one of the central protagonists. Although one of the main characters, he has often been depicted in a shady light and also briefly taken on the role as an antagonist during his near 60 year history.
He is portrayed by William Roache.
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 neighbours, 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 neighbour Len Fairclough when Ken wrote an article criticising 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 neighbour 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 neighbours, especially as Ken wasn't perfect in personality and behaviour.
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.
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, although very reluctantly.
Ken began to cheat on Deirdre with Wendy Crozier, which resulted in the end of their marriage. Ken found himself an unpopular guy on the street, and ended up getting his comeuppance when Mike managed to beat him in a punch up at the pub, in which Ken was knocked down. Over the years he began to build up his reputation, and moved back when things cooled down. He would later get back with Deirdre in the late 1990s, and the pair remarried in 2005.
In late 2016, Ken began to appear in the role as the antagonist 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.
- 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)
- Peter Barlow - Son
- Susan Barlow - Daughter (deceased)
- Daniel Osbourne - Son
- Tracy Barlow - Adoptive daughter
- Adam Barlow - Grandson
- Simon Barlow - Grandson
- Leanne Battersby - Former daughter-in-law
- Carla Connor - Former daughter-in-law
- Family abandonment
- Arrested for a protest in the 1960s, resulting in a prison sentence
- Leaving his baby children home alone which nearly resulted in them dying in a near fire
- Domestic Abuse
- Threatening Billy to keep quiet about his near death experience at the hands of Peter Barlow
- Psychological abuse
- 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.