Tag Archives: Ken Barlow

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.

Corrie Street Jan. 24/16

I haven’t liked Nessa since she arrived. But Thursday when she left, I nessa-in-hall-doorwayadmired, even liked, her. The signs of an exit soon to come started a while ago. Hauling Ken off to dance, drink and chat at the New Year’s Eve party that was her idea to have – at his house where Deirdre is everywhere. Breaking the mug that Deirdre had made. Worse, being clueless that such an “ugly”, obviously handmade, object with his name on it would likely have sentimental value. Having no clue about the crassness of her interruptions during Ken’s emotional leave-taking of Emily.

Ken says I like librettos and you likeThose are her sins from the present. When the sins of her past came to light, you knew it was game over. The discovery of her affair with her late brother-in-law finished her off, and her attempts to cover it up and to deflect the blame sealed it.

Ken sat her down for the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk. To illustrate their stilettos says Nessadifferences in lifestyle and outlook, he said “I like librettos and you like…” “Stilettos,” she said immediately. I saw right there what Ken has seen in her. Never in a million years would Deirdre, bless her soul, have come back with that. Neither would Audrey.

When she realized that telling him what they have in common wouldn’t change his mind, she dispatched their relationship quickly and politely. She made it easy for Ken and kept her dignity and ken laughslikability. She just said goodbye.

After leaving Ken’s, she tried once more to make peace with Cathy. Her new attitude of straightforwardness, apologies that seemed genuine and a willingness to accept that amends may not be made went some distance, I think, to Cathy maybe forgiving her. Cathy seemed to look at her in a new light. Her final stop was Audrey. With the same directness, and a few digs, she told Audrey that she and Ken were ken-thoughtful after nessa leaves, photo of deirdre nearbyfinished and “he’s all yours.”

This Nessa I liked a lot. I am sorry to see her go. Too bad, chuck, she’d likely say, you had the chance and too late now.

Corrie Street Nov. 15/15

Ken Barlow is one of those guys who needs to be with someone. Yes, Ken Barlow and Audrey Robertshe 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.

audrey-smiles-at-kenKen 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 ken-speaks-of-being-alonepair 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 ken-audreyhis 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 ken-watches-audrey-leavematters. 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.

Ken BarlowThe 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.

Corrie Street Aug. 2/15

Thursday, Tracy’s ex-husband comes to apologize to Ken for his deirdre-recipe-bookbehaviour after Deirdre’s funeral. Ken is looking through Deirdre’s cookbook. He tells Robert about her stuffed marrow – an endurance test to eat, he says, but he’d give anything to taste it just once more. Robert offers to make it.

It doesn’t matter to me how many secrets Robert Preston is hiding. It Julian-Kay-as-Robert_Preston-1996Tristan-Gemmell-Robert-2015doesn’t matter if he’s a totally different man from years ago. He has redeemed the poor stuffed marrow. Like Ken, that makes me feel disloyal to the memory of Deirdre. But, in truth, she did no good service to what is a wonderful dish.

stuffed-marrowStuffed marrow, or stuffed zucchini, is hollowed out squash halves filled with a thick tomato and ground beef sauce baked with cheese on top. The flavours and textures of the zucchini and sauce make a lovely combination, it’s very easy to make and it needs the huge zucchinis that you really can’t use for anything else.

I have enjoyed all the scenes over the years with Deirdre’s stuffed ken-watches-robert-cookmarrow, and the eye-rolling about it from everyone but her. But I feared that Coronation Street did an injustice to the dish. If I, who love it, felt trepidation every time it was announced that she was making it, what would someone who had never eaten it feel if it were served to them?

It is so easy to make that I never thought about someone just not making it very well. I thought it was perhaps a personal vendetta robert-with-ringing-phoneagainst the vegetable on the part of a writer or producer. Mam’s never smelled like that, Tracy said, it smelled more like a dogfood factory. Ken didn’t disagree, saying he felt disloyal to Deirdre but was actually enjoying Robert’s version.

So, although the scene maligned Deirdre and her cooking skills, the reputation of the stuffed marrow was restored. And for that, no matter what might come, I thank Robert.

I also thank Martyn Hett for a wonderful stuffed marrow cooking lesson.

Corrie Street July 26/15

all-because-of-youKen has a lot on his mind, things to sort out with Tracy.  Despite his snipes at her during the funeral, he hadn’t intended to confront her right then, right after the funeral.

He is at the wake and leaves to come home to talk Tracy into coming back with him. There, he finds her and ex-husband Robert, half-dressed, “cavorting” on the couch. He sends Robert packing and explodes.

Ken Blaming Tracy

Tracy is stunned by his vehemence and what he tells her, that her too-ashamed-of-youmother died away because she was ashamed of her and didn’t want to face friends. But Tracy recovers and flips the guilt back on Ken. Maybe she had hurt her mother, but so had he.

They both give voice to present and past resentments, eddying way beyond Deirdre’s death. Ken lets loose, with no Deirdre to make him back off. Tracy retaliates, reminding him of how, and with whom, he had hurt Deirdre. And no Deirdre to make her stop.

where-have-you-beenInto that Peter walks, too late for the funeral but in time for the acrimony. Ken greets him with joy. Tracy is hurt by Ken’s ability to turn on a dime. The ‘prodigal son’ can do no wrong. Peter blames train delays. Anyone else would come the night before, Tracy points out, not leave something so important to the last minute. Doesn’t matter, Ken smooths and soothes, you’re here now.

tracy-annoyed-as-peter-and-ken-talkHaving just had strips torn off her by Ken, Tracy thinks Peter’s lateness does matter. She is not feeling charitable toward him or what she sees as a lack of respect for both her mother and his father.

Tracy Blaming Peter, Peter Blaming Tracy

she-was-my-motherThen Peter jumps in arguing Ken’s points, telling Tracy how much she hurt her mother and so many other people, how despicable she has been, and how people loathe her. She tells him just how much grief he too has caused people, including Deirdre, over the years.

you-and-your-ex-cavortingWe see parts of those years and lives all around the living room. The photos that frame Ken as he sits at the table. Everywhere the camera goes, we see pictures of the family as its three surviving adults vent their grievances and their sorrow.

one-of-two-thingsTired of it all, Ken goes for a lie-down. Standing at the top of the stairs, he listens to Peter and Tracy debate which of them is the worst human being and parent’s child.

gonna-changeLater, he returns. Feathers are smoothed and, having exhausted their cruelty, maybe the three can rebuild something in the absence of the mother.

Emma Hynes, at Bluenose Corrie, gives an eloquent assessment of the beauty of Friday’s episode.