Ken Barlow is one of those guys who needs to be with someone. Yes, he enjoys his own company and pursues solitary, intellectual pleasures. But spending the day alone enriching oneself in the library is most enjoyable when someone is at home bemoaning your absence, and cooking your dinner. That was Deirdre. Not the same pleasure in coming home to Tracy. She’d be happy if he moved into the library permanently.
Ken needs someone to tend to the real world around him and, perhaps more importantly, to be a foil for him. He needs a measure of comparison to reassure himself that he is a special man, a very special man.
So his zeroing in on Audrey so soon after Deirdre’s death isn’t surprising and isn’t out of character. It’s always nervous-making when one half of a soap couple is left alone. Who are they going to pair him or her up with? Why can’t someone just be on their own and in a storyline once in a while. I had those thoughts when Ken’s eyes landed on Audrey. But I started thinking of Ken as he is, and it made perfect sense.
Ken has rarely, if ever, been without a woman. Often he has more than one on the go at a time. He needs them. He thinks he is pretty special, above the cut of the masses. At the same time, I think he has major insecurities. Both ways, an adoring woman at his side bolsters his self-image. Especially if she, and he, believe she is not his intellectual equal.
I wonder if that is why, at the end, he decided to not run off with Martha of the canal boat. She had no doubt that she was more than his equal in intellect, social standing and spirit of adventure. He was in thrall with her, and I think that is not a place Ken is comfortable.
Audrey is perhaps the perfect match for him, next to Deirdre. She aspires toward the social graces, the artistic and intellectual. But she would never be a threat to Ken’s opinion of his superiority in those matters. She dresses beautifully and lives in a gracious, comfortable home.
Audrey settled into widowhood graciously. She is comfortable with her own company, despite her queen bee tendencies. She sought love many times after the death of her dear Alfie, but it never really happened. Maybe this time? Maybe with Ken? That would be fine, for both of them, as long as their narcissist traits mesh instead of collide.
The introduction of Nessa is unnecessary, but I can go along with it. A threat to Audrey for Ken’s affections, she is not. Perhaps she’ll give one or both of them a nudge, although Ken already seems ready to rock and roll.