Tag Archives: Ken Barlow

Corrie Street 23 Apr. 2017

Barlow Fecundity

Friday, Peter encourages Toyah about the baby quest: “You’ve got Barlow fertility on your side now. We’re famous for our fecundity.”beer and pizza - barlow fecundity

True! But, funny and kind of creepy as that remark is, it is not my choice of the week. I kept thinking of the beginning of the week. A scene that spotlighted the fruit of that Barlow fecundity.

tracy-with-beer-bottleThe Barlow kids, grandkids and significant others sitting around the dining room table – in a complete mess. I gasped in shock. In all the years of seeing that room and that dining table, never ever have I seen it look like that. What a mess! Deirdre would have had a fit. Ken too.

sinead looking guilty and daniel rolling eyesIt was funny in a ‘while the cat’s away, the mice will play’ kind of way. Pizza boxes piled high. Beer bottles and cans everywhere.

And them all sniping at each other. Who gets what in Dad’s will? Who tried to off Dad?toyah and peter look guilty

But that scene of the Barlow spawn, along with other recent scenes of them en masse prompts a question for TPTB at Corrie.

What about Ken’s other son and grandson? Remember Lawrence Cunningham and his son James?*Peter Barlow meeting new family in Rovers

They turned up in 2011, a complete surprise to viewers and indeed to Ken. He hadn’t known that Lawrence, Ken’s son with his first girlfriend Susan Cunningham, even existed. But Lawrence does exist, and he has kids susan cunningham with frank and david barlow in first episode(further evidence of that famous fecundity). Ken became involved in their lives for a time.

So where are they? Why has Ken not mentioned them? And are they in Ken’s will? Grandson James could even be a candidate for bashing Ken in the head. He has form, having knocked Ken in the head before.

Barlow fecundity and an apparent forgetfulness on all their parts of James fights Ken to get phone awayjust how many kids Ken actually has. Could lead to more character returns and even more suspects. As Audrey said last week, “There’s more than one member of that family that’s been up on a murder charge before”

*Both characters were played by William Roache’s sons, so having them back would be great at both the fictional and real levels. You can read more in my Scenes of the Week Family Trees (July 3/11) and The Real James (Jan. 8/12).

Corrie Street 16 Apr 2017

Mad Street

Wednesday, Barlows scurry around, all upset about different things. All mad at Ken for different reasons. Pat Phelan like an injured bull – mad at Ken. Ken angry too, with his kids and about a kitchen torn apart for too long.ken-listens-to-music

Finally alone in the house but for Eccles, he sits in his chair and listens to music. Decides to have a cup of tea. Due to construction, he has to take the kettle upstairs to the bathroom to fill it. And ta-dum – a noise downstairs. Who’s there? No answer.

tracy-in-front-of-floristsWe check in on the others. Tracy is looking for Amy. She went AWOL from a recital at the community centre. She’s been frantic to get back to her grandfather’s house to hide money that she’d promised for someone.

daniel-looks-at-giftDaniel is in his apartment, fuming about Sinead. Then he looks at his father’s gift. A poetry book, with maybe an inscription. Two and two add up. He realizes Ken, and Oxford, may have played a part in Sinead deciding to have an abortion. So off he goes to confront Ken.

mad sinead-pounds-on-doorMeanwhile Sinead, drunk and mad, was pounding on Ken’s door, yelling to get in. Pat Phelan was in the Rovers, getting madder and madder about Ken – “that second rate Stephen Fry” – and his complaints.

peter-with-whiskey-bottlePeter is sitting in his apartment with a bottle of whiskey. Looking at it. Feeling it. Smelling it. His father and Toyah accused him of drinking again, wouldn’t believe that he wasn’t. He might as well prove them right. Almost, but no. Instead he smashes the bottle on the countertop.eccles-with-ken

So back to Ken. He’s on the floor, unconscious, at the bottom of the stairs. Eccles tries to rouse him. Daniel opens the door. He is daniel-sees-ken-and-phelanshocked to see his father. Then he gets another shock, as do we when the camera pulls back. Pat Phelan is standing over Ken. He says he just got there, and that he too is shocked. But is he?

Is it another stroke? A fall? Murder or attempted murder? If so, by whom? Family or neighbour? Ken has upset a lot of people lately, All of them were scattered, out of camera sight, during whatever happened.

adam-at-busIncluding one more Barlow. Hurrying to catch a bus, Adam in a hoodie and ball cap. Not in Canada, obviously, and also staying well clear of the family.

Corrie Street 9 Apr 2017

Life Lesson

Ken sits Sinead down Thursday for a talk. A life lesson. It was a spine-tingling good scene. A history of his life and of Coronation Street. Also a glimpse into the future, of what might be for Daniel and Sinead.ken-starts life lesson

More than that, it was an exchange between generations. The discussion that never works, can’t work: don’t make my mistakes. The one where the elder says to the younger, I know how this is going to go because I’ve done it.

This scene encapsulates Coronation Street at its finest. While  incorporating its own history, it speaks to universals. It should be on the best clip reel for actors William Roache and Katie McGlynn and Coronation Street itself.

throw-away-his-futureKen tells Sinead what Oxford University means in his world and Daniel’s, also what refusing it will mean. He is blunt, even cruel. But he is desperate to keep his son from the path that was his own. His life journey that “can be covered in ten paces”, from No. 3 to No. 1 Coronation Street.

But you had Deirdre, Sinead says, you loved Deirdre. Yes, Ken says, but it’s not enough. “Not the life I would’ve chosen at 22.” “Does it matter?”, she asks. “Of course it does. That 22 year old had such sinead-in-shockdreams. Now he weeps over his squandered potential and wasted years. Sometimes I sit here with him.”

Now Ken is seeing the future: his son, exceptional enough for Oxford, joining the spectre of his own young self at that dining room table, weeping over what might have been. He tries to tell Sinead. But she has no idea what he’s talking about.

You can almost see the glass wall between them. It’s not a wall of education or class. It’s age. He is looking back, able to see all the circumstances and choices that led to his future – now his past and present. But too late to change them. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.tracy-and-amy-in-hall

For Sinead, however, it starts and ends with ‘love will keep us together’. Oh, and I’m carrying his baby, your grandchild. And that does give her a vested interest in Daniel’s decisions.

more-to-life-than-loveAnd who knows? Everyone has something they regret, some path they wish they had or had not taken. Maybe, if he shed Sinead and the baby for Oxford, sitting at his dining room table late at night, Daniel would weep for the chance at fatherhood.

Another powerful intergenerational scene was Jack Duckworth and Molly (Sept. 4/11). It was just before Jack died.

Corrie Street 2 Apr 2017

Remittance Man

adam-in-hospital-bedAdam Barlow is in trouble, worse, bringing trouble to the family. So, here’s your bag, here’s some money, now go. A modern day remittance man. A way the colonies traditionally helped solve family problems. Out of sight and mind, with payments sent to help the unwanted one establish a life somewhere else. Swim or sink, but do it far away. Lucky old Canada!

It was a bit sudden on Tuesday, Ken sending Adam off like that. Realistic? Perhaps, in light of Adam bringing risk to Amy and Tracy. ken-shows-bag-to-adam remittance manBut we viewers saw much more of the risk than Ken did. Seemed like more talking about what happened, some verifying, might be wanted. Not just here’s a change of clothes, I’ll send the rest. And there’s enough cash to buy a plane ticket. Cash? Very much a ‘here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?’ exit.

It’s a great opportunity for a Corrie spin-off movie, though. please-granddad adam says to kenRemittance Man:  Son of Mike. Have Adam bounce right across Canada, from lawyer office to street dealer to cop shop in town after town. A sesquicentennial celebration in a camel coat. I do hope the coat was packed in that bag.

The Barlow boys are falling apart rapidly, or maybe falling into form. Peter, as usual when he comes to a fork in the road, is trying to take both paths. Once again, two women want him and he’s doing his best to accommodate both.

Daniel is heading down the same path as his father. But it’s not the path he or Ken had planned on or hoped for. The letter from Oxford, maybe of acceptance, has to take second place to a surprise baby on the way. And also a life on the Street with Sinead – ‘I dunno, I’m just a fak’try girl who does, like, craft stuff’ – Tinker. Just like Dad.

ken-leaves-hospital-room distraughtAnd Adam, now presumably gone with his remittance. I doubt, however, that Ken has the money to continue paying Adam to stay away. Even if he does now, his other kids will soon relieve him of that.

It’s a pretty dim outlook for Ken when Tracy appears to have the best grip on her life and future prospects.

Corrie Street 5 Mar 2017

Bangers and Mash

Hmm, what wine goes best with bangers and mash? A question for Ken to ask himself. A much better question than those he was asking at dinner with Daniel and Sinead on Thursday.ken gives pop quiz over bangers and mash

It must take the prize for most hideous dinner party ever. Sinead thought inviting Ken for dinner would put things back on a good footing for father, son and girlfriend. Oh, dear sweet Lord!

Last week, I talked about Daniel seeming to channel the young Ken Barlow. This dinner party channelled over half a century of dining table class warfare in the Barlow household. From Ken’s father sinead looks bored at ken's questionsgetting in his face about his la-di-da attitudes to Deirdre rolling her eyes at what she saw as his pretensions. Now, Ken giving a pop quiz on American history to Daniel over dinner? Why, Ken, why?

I think I agree with Ken, that Sinead is going to drag Daniel down. Although I like her and at first liked the idea of them together, she is overplaying the “I dunno all that fancy stuff, I’m just a faktry girl” schtick. Daniel may enjoy seeing the literary lineage of the beauty of the simple maid and simple life brought to life in her. He may also just be horny. Whatever, her eye-rolling, “dunno” responses and neediness will wear thin soon.

Meanwhile, finding that out will likely mess up his graduate studies daniel answers jfk question correctlyplan. His new emotional life with Sinead has already cost him a chance to get to know a prof outside the academic setting. It’s also made Ken doubt him, at a time when Ken is getting royally ticked off with the flaws of his recently returned children. He already knows well the flaws of the other ones.

Tracy and Peter also well know Ken’s flaws, and to some extent accept them. The new sons are discovering them for themselves. One that must have been driven home with a sledgehammer for Daniel is his father’s sometimes totally inappropriate pedantism.sinead gets up from table

If ever there was a time to not discuss American history, English literature or anything that resembled schoolwork, it was this first dinner with Daniel and Sinead in their home. Although Ken shouldn’t have needed a clue to know that, the bangers and mash should have given him one. Even Deirdre wouldn’t have made that kind of “this is me” statement. She would have gussied it up in honour of her guest with her speciality, stuffed marrow.

Corrie Street 11 Dec. 2016

Tombola

mother was locked in the church hallI had to look it up. A tombola is “a lottery in which tickets are drawn from a revolving drum.” In the case of Mary’s mother at the Scout Jamboree, it was food items in the drum rather than raffle tickets. Lucky for her. Tinned pilchards kept her alive when she was trapped overnight under the tombola.

what does that have to do with pilchardsNorris is wrong to cut Mary off in her storytelling. That was one of her best ones ever. Mother blindly reaching up into the drum, rooting around for a tin, then opening it with her teeth. It’s an image that will stay with me for a long time.

she would reach up into the tombolaA lovely scene, indeed a laugh out loud one. Brian, Norris, Rita and Mary all sat in the Rovers, talking about essentially nothing. What they can do with nothing!

Then they were joined by Ken. A good way to reintroduce him to the community of the street. Old friends. And, for him, a good way to get peter tells ken rovers is better than being homeaway from his lunatic family. It was nice, later, to see what Peter had done and to see Ken acknowledge it. Peter had used Ken’s absence to sort out his siblings about their incessant bickering and find alternate housing for the two new ones. So Adam and Daniel will be roomies in Dev’s flat over the shop. That gets the house back to normal, with only Ken, Tracy and Peter there and makes room for Amy again.

The Front Room

We got an explanation this week of how so many people can get norris leaves table for barsquashed into small houses. The front room. I’d forgotten about it. Ground floor, front of house – sometimes also called the parlour. We saw it in the Barlow house. It was Blanche’s room. When Kevin and Sally lived at No. 13, we occasionally saw the front room when someone wanted more privacy than the kitchen gave.

I can’t think of ever having seen the front room at Eileen’s house. But according to Norris, that is where Sean slept. I’m sure I remember mary, ken and rita listen to norris at barseeing Sean coming up or down the stairs to or from his room. Maybe some of them swapped rooms at some point, I don’t know. But it makes me feel much better, knowing that there is another room that can help accommodate the many people who happen by to spend the night under Eileen’s roof.

norris suggests new housing plan for sean and brianMaybe now we’ll see Emily’s front room and piano. With Sean and Brian in a bidding war, Norris has decided that they can have the two bedrooms. The extra money means he will be perfectly comfortable budged up by the piano.

Corrie Street 27 Nov 2016

Barlow Reunion

Friday we got the explanation. I wondered all week why Ken and his storyline seemed to have disappeared behind a hospital curtain. Would one day the curtain be pulled back and there’s an empty bed, hospital-curtain-pulled-backa different person, a skeleton in a hospital gown? Maybe an emaciated Ken pleading for food and water? ‘So sorry, Mr. Barlow,” the nurse might say, ‘we forgot about you.’

You just can’t put Ken in the hospital and leave him there, with Tracy and Peter occasionally mentioning that Dad won’t see them. Is it contract negotiations? Vacation or other obligations? What?

It’s a Barlow reunion. We knew Ken’s grandson Adam was returning. At least Peter said he had called him in Canada and Adam had promised he’d come. Remember, Adam is the son of Susan (Peter’s deceased twin) and Mike Baldwin.

adam-with-jaquarAdam did return and he’s played by the same actor, Sam Robertson, who portrayed him a decade ago. He may use the surname Barlow but he’s Mike Baldwin’s Mini-Me. He pulls up in a Jaguar, just like Dad. Lights a cigar, Mike’s smoke of choice. In the factory office, he looks for the Scotch where he expects it to be from the days of Mike, and there it is. The factory may have changed hands, but traditions last.

He finally stops marking his territory in the factory and goes to the peter-tracy-adam-in-waiting-roomhospital with Tracy and Peter. No, they’re told, they can’t just go barging in, someone is with Ken. It’s the mystery visitor who has been there every day.

Sibling surprise

In they barge anyway. A young man is reading to Ken. It’s Daniel, daniel-and-ken-see-newcomersKen’s youngest son. I had forgotten about him. So, it seems, had Tracy and Peter. Tracy thought he was a con man.  Peter thought he was a volunteer visitor. Neither recognized him. I think Adam has never met him.

Like all of Ken’s children, Daniel was packed off to Scotland. He is the product of an affair Ken had in 1994 with a hairdresser named Denise Osbourne. He and his mother were last seen in 2007 when Tracy, Adam, Peter look gobsmacked barlow reunionKen tried to be a good father to him. They must have kept in touch.

With the return of Daniel and Adam, the Barlow reunion is almost complete. Only the eldest son Lawrence and his offspring are missing. Unless, of course, Ken has more kids out there. Maybe someone should scout around Scotland.

Corrie Street 6 Nov 2016

Too much

eva-gemma-choose-all-we-doNot a scene this week. Too many, too much. It was extremely good, so this is both a compliment and a criticism. Edge of seat exciting, but too much to fully appreciate the separate parts.

Last week, we were left hanging with Ken. Was he alive or dead? Alive, barely, in hospital. Whew! Peter was still around. But Tracy found out he and Ken had been arguing just before the stroke. That was it – Peter, get out. Then she, Amy and Simon appear by Ken’s bedside. She tells him that they are there for him, always and ever more. Yikes! I half expected Ken to grab his pillow and smother himself.gemma-superimposed-on-hospital

But Ken and the Barlow clan were quickly overshadowed by David Platt’s car. First, Kevin welding right beside it. He had not noticed the cans of gasoline in the back. It’s a hatchback, it’s not like they too much for him peter-in-hospital-family-roomwere hidden from view. Sparks fly and Kevin says how happy he is that Anna is moving in with him. Words of Doom.

David escapes from the Bistro cellar and carries on with his plan to blow himself, Clayton and the courthouse sky-high. But his old clunker won’t start. All the Platts and others circle the car, screaming at David to stop.peter-superimposed-on-hosp-room

Lily escapes from babysitter Fiz’s back yard. She heads to the street, just of course as the car starts. David’s got his foot to the floor and the car takes off – straight toward Lily. Gary grabs her, car flips, gas doesn’t immediately explode. David crawls out, Gary and Lily are trapped underneath.

Everybody lifts the car and Lily and Gary are pulled out. Gas explodes. The Rovers is demolished yet again. Anna catches on fire.tracy-and-kids-with-ken

Meanwhile at the hospital, Ken regains consciousness but cannot speak. People go in and out of his room.ken-superimposed-on-shower

I wanted to savour each of these storylines. In the car scenes, I wondered about Ken. Then with Ken, I wondered about the crash. Stepping outside the story, I wondered if these were special episodes marking some anniversary that I didn’t know about. Because that’s what Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday felt like. A really big shew, as Ed Sullivan would say.david-superimposed-on-hosp-monitor

Usually in Coronation Street, music plays in the scene to which it belongs. The juke box in the pub or a radio on in a house. Music overlaying other scenes is an unrealism they usually do not do. But at the end of Wednesday’s episode, I liked “All We Do” continuing from the pub through the final shots. We saw the state of the central characters, and the music helped assimilate the whole.anna-surrounded-by-equipment

Corrie Street 30 Oct 2016

Grand Tour

The Grand Tour of Europe, the trip Ken Barlow has yearned to do. He’s going to do it. A long ago rite of passage for young men and women of the upper class. A past and a social stratum in which he ken-in-dining-room before Grand Tourwould have fit so well, despite his working class ideology.

Ken started the week helping Tracy in the florist shop. Helping her right out of a large order of corsages for a school prom. Tracy was furious. But Ken didn’t care. He hoped he had made the customer think about the Americanization of British culture. No, she’d just ordered her corsages from another florist, Tracy told him. No matter, Ken said. Proms and Thanksgiving dinners celebrated by people with no US connections! Taking a stand against importing traditions, that’s what matters.

Having done his bit for Old Blighty, he took to looking at travel websites. The Grand Tour excursion package, that’s what he needs. With Amy’s encouragement, he decided that he could do it. So he would. Tracy had another fit. How would she manage without him? Like other people do, he told her, by doing it yourself.

peter-turns-from-kenThe night before he leaves, Peter comes home. Although glad to see him, Ken is suspicious. What does he want, what is he running away from? Peter tells him a smooth story but Ken doesn’t buy it.

The household settles in for the night. Ken has to be at the airport in the early morning for his flight to Italy. Then Peter calls someone and goes out. When he gets back, Ken is up. He is waiting for his taxi and waiting for Peter.

ken-with-peter-watchingWhere has he been? What is he doing? What kind of trouble is he in? Just a job interview, Peter tells his father. When will you stop lying, Ken shouts. When were you ever around to know what I was doing, Peter shouts back. And he starts playing that old record again, as Ken says.

ken-clutches-railingA knock at the door. Going to open it, Ken collapses. Heart attack or stroke. No flight to Italy now, no Grand Tour.

I wondered if trip plans and especially Peter’s return meant William Roache was leaving Coronation Street for good. And I don’t know. Ken’s collapse completely shocked and surprised me. I am so glad that I did not stumble on any hints about this.

If I were to give any predictions about next week, it’s that Tracy will be as upset about the money as she is about her father, assuming Ken’s ticket is non-refundable. Peter too. I hope I’m being too harsh.peter-clutches-ken

In Ken’s honour, here are links to Grand Tour books. One is by Sister Wendy, whose short videos on art can be caught at the end of PBS programmes if you’re lucky.

Corrie Street July 31/16

If only Audrey would moonlight as theatre critic for the Weatherfield Gazette! Friday, she gave her take on Waiting for Godot: “If I wanted to audrey-on-waiting-for-godotwatch two old men kicking off, I’d go down to the Legion on dominos night.”

Ken gave her his tickets to the play and suggested she take Freddie. She did. They left early. “We certainly weren’t going to hang around waiting for this Godot fella to turn up. If he’d had any sense, he’d have stayed at home.”

Absolute gold. I switched my allegiance in the Audrey love-interest stakes. I saw Audrey as a good fit for Ken when Nessa was chasing him. Audrey and Ken are long-time friends and get along well. But there are a lot of interests they do not share. Audrey and Freddie are new friends and seem to have a lot in common.

freddie-laughs-about-highbrow-theatreAudrey evidently missed English class a lot when she was in school and hasn’t become familiar with much in the way of literature since. She is intimidated by Ken and fears falling short of his intellectual standards.

Ken enjoys the arts and loves discussing them. But he spent many happy years with Deirdre, who prided herself on not being a brainbox and had little but scorn for Ken’s newspapers and pretensions.

I suspect Freddie knows more about the arts than he lets on. But theatre and literature are not passions of his. Like Audrey, he probably enjoys a good musical. He clearly likes her and I think he is a closer match to her beloved Alfie than Ken is.

Freddie has been matchmaking with Ken on Audrey’s behalf. He audrey-I-love-a-good-musicaltalked Ken into inviting Audrey to the play. But seeing them in the Rovers, Ken thought Audrey and Freddie were interested in each other. So he made up a story about being busy and gave Audrey the tickets, suggesting she take Freddie.

Crossed wires, and an illustration of Ken’s obtuseness about people. Freddie had told Ken his opinion of theatre – it’s a waste of time. And surely Ken knows Audrey well enough to know that Waiting for Godot, for her, would mean waiting for the curtain to come down and lights to come up.

However, Audrey and Freddie did enjoy their evening. They roared up to the theatre on his motorcycle. They annoyed audience freddie-gives-audrey-advise-about-kenmembers by eating candies during the performance. And they were asked to leave. For both of them, it seems, that defines a good night at the theatre. By not showing up, Ken and Godot did Audrey and Freddie a favour.