Peter Barlow is a major character in the British soap Oopera Coronation Street, making his first debut in April 1965 as a newborn baby. Although not really villainous in the start (as the character was recurring for the next 35 years of the show's history) he took an anti-hero role when Chris Gascoyne took over the part in December 2000, as Peter was a serial cheat. Despite this, the character was capable of showing compassion and wasn't really "evil", but does fail to learn from his mistakes. He became a tragic character upon his return in 2008 due to struggles with alcoholism and being a single dad, although would be a serial cheater and showing shades of darkness, although never overstepping the mark.
In 2014, Peter is the male protagonist and the actual tritagonist for most of the Coronation Street 2014 series. He had an affair on Tina and then got framed for her murder, which was caused by his arch rival. He left the series at the end of the year, made a guest return in 2015, before returning full-time in 2016.
Peter was born alongside his twin sister Susan Barlow in April 1965, to their parents Ken and Valerie Barlow. Peter and Susan spent the next six-years living with their parents, until their mother unfortunately died in a house fire. A widowed Ken was unable to look after the two children, so sent them off to Scotland to live with their grandparents. Even though life in Scotland was happy enough, Peter grew to resent Ken for sending them away and only getting the occasional visits.
25 years later, Peter joined the Navy in 1980. And after a brief visit for his sister's wedding to Mike Baldwin in 1986, returned to Weatherfield in 2000 after 20 years of service (in which Chris Gascoyne took over the part). By this point Peter was divorced from his first wife, who went with another bloke when he was serving in the navy, and it was clear he was very bitter about Ken's abandonment and sneered at his father's attempts to save the street's cobbles (which he did succeed in). Peter attempted to make a pass at barmaid Liz McDonald which had shook her up, but Peter denied doing anything.
Peter got into a relationship with barmaid Shelly, but later set his eyes on florist Lucy. He married Lucy in secret when she was pregnant to his son Simon, but committed bigamy by marrying Shelly. When his deceit was exposed, Lucy left with Simon and Peter left the street humiliated.
Peter returned in January 2007 after spending time in Portsmouth to stay with his adopted sister Tracy Barlow and her alleged abuser Charlie Stubbs on the request of his dad. However Tracy was lying about the abuse to try and set Charlie up, and Charlie later beat up Peter when Tracy hinted he was her lover. Charlie was arrested for the assault, but was later given community service. On the night after the verdict, he was murdered by a manipulative Tracy. After Tracy was found guilty of Charlie's murder and sentenced to 15-years in prison, Peter again left for Portsmouth alongside his nephew Adam Barlow.
In 2008 Peter's ex-wife Lucy was diagnosed with breast cancer. She passed away and Peter was left with their 5-year old son Simon. He returned to Coronation Street in October of that year for support from Ken and Deirdre, but admitted his life was a mess and it was clear he had become dependent on alcohol. Peter bought the local bookies with money Lucy left him but his drinking got out of hand and Peter blamed Ken for his issues. Peter also developed a close relationship with colleague Leanne Battersby and attempted to make a pass on her around the Christmas period but she pushed a drunken Peter into the Christmas tree.
Peter left to go into rehab in January 2009, but when released secretly went on a cruise with another woman behind Leanne's back, allowing her to run the Bookies on her own. Peter returned a couple of months later, and when the woman turned up looking for him Leanne left Weatherfield for a new job. Peter eventually admitted to his alcoholism, and began attending alcoholics anonymous.
In late 2013, he married Carla, but later began an affair with barmaid Tina McIntyre. Tina was later murdered by Peter's brother-in-law Rob Donovan, and Peter was accused of the murder and held on remand. He affair being exposed marked the end of his marriage also. During his time in prison, Peter craved alcohol and turned to former neighbour Jim McDonald for help, as Jim was responsible for smuggling alcohol into the prison for the inmates. The pair ended up getting into a feud, especially after Peter found the stash and drank it all, which nearly cost him his life. Peter later ruined Jim's chances of reconciling with his family by informing Jim's son Steve McDonald on Jim's criminal activities. Jim got revenge on Peter by sending two of his heavies to beat him up.
Peter faced 15 years in prison when found guilty, although when Rob was exposed thanks to Carla and Tracy, Peter was released. Facing persecution from the residents for his recent misdemeanors, a shameful Peter left Weatherfield again in November 2014. He returned for his mother-in-law Deirdre's funeral in July 2015, when he reminisced with Ken and Deirdre about their good times together.
Peter later returned back to the street in 2016, in which it was revealed he was in a relationship with Leanne's married step-sister Toyah. Toyah left her husband for Peter, and the pair of them bought the Rovers Return in 2017. Their relationship later fell apart, and the pub was sold to Johnny Connor in 2018, which he ran with his wife Jenny Bradley.
Near the end of 2017 he found out vicar Billy Mayhew was responsible for his sister Susan's death back in 2001, as Billy was in a getaway car that caused Susan to be driven off the road. On Christmas Day a vengeful Peter bundled Billy into the trunk of his taxi and drove him to a cliffside, where he threatened to kill him. Peter spared Billy's life but planned to abandon him. Billy accidentally slipped and fell from the cliff, and a panicked Peter ran back to Ken, and broke down in tears as he believed he killed Billy. Billy survived the huge drop and was in hospital, and Ken paid him a visit and warned him not to tell the police about Peter's role in his accident, which Billy complied with. The incident led to Billy being addicted to drugs to cope with his pain, although he later made a recovery, and the Barlow family forgave him for indirectly causing Susan's accident.
After splitting from Toyah, Peter reconciled with Carla. In 2020 Peter suffered health problems due to his many years of heavy drinking, and faced the possibility he hasn't got long to live. In 2021 he remarried Carla, but collapsed following the service and was rushed to hospital.
- Due to his bigamy in 2003 Peter was said to be the "most hated" man in Britain on television.
- Despite appearing on-off in the role since 2000, Chris Gascoyne is still the longest serving actor to play Peter, and the most prominent.