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Deirdre Barlow
Deirdre 2008.JPG
Deirdre Barlow in 2009
Coronation Street
Portrayed by Anne Kirkbride
Duration 1972, 1973-
First appearance 20 November 1972
Book appearances Coronation Street:
The Complete Saga
Profile
Occupation Housewife
Residence 1 Coronation Street

Deirdre Anne Barlow (née Hunt, previously Langton and Rachid) is a long-standing fictional character in the UK television ITV soap opera, Coronation Street. Portrayed by actress Anne Kirkbride, the character first appeared onscreen during the episode that was aired on 20 November 1972.[1] In the past, the character of Deirdre has been employed at the Corner Shop, helping Renee Bradshaw and Alf Roberts in the 1970s, and then Dev Alahan two decades later. Most recently, she worked at the council offices as a legal secretary, but was made redundant in 2009.

Contents

Creation

Background

Deirdre as she appeared in the 1980s.

She has been played by actress Anne Kirkbride in episodes since 1972. Deirdre Hunt came to our screens in 1972 as "a young 18 year old 'dolly bird', someone that liked a bit of fun".[2]. The character made a one-off appearance in episode 1236 on November 20 of that year. The producers and writers were convinced that the character had more mileage and Anne Kirkbride returned for a couple of appearances from episode 1272 on March 26, 1973 and as a contracted regular from episode 1288 on May 21, 1973[3].

Deirdre's trademarks include a gravelly, scratchy voice (intensifying due to actress Anne Kirkbride's real-life chain smoking) and very big glasses. She wore the same style of glasses for almost 30 years (in her youth she was nicknamed "Miss Sexy Spex"), before Dev Alahan crushed them with a box when she put them down for a second. Today, her frames are much smaller than they used to be. Actor Anne Kirkbride does not wear glasses away from the role, opting for contact lenses. For the first couple of years, Deirdre's glasses on the show did not have any sort of lenses.[4]

Casting

After leaving Oldham Rep at the age of 18 actress Anne Kirkbride starred in a Granada TV play titled 'Another Sunday and sweet FA', then auditioned for a part in a pilot for a new Granada series. It was then that Coronation Street's casting director took notice of her and offered her a 'bit part' in the show.[5] She was first seen doing her little part when character Elsie Tanner came into a pub to find husband Alan Howard drinking with Deidre. Kirkbride said: "That was my first scene and I was petrified at the thought of coming into something I'd been watching since the age of seven." Kirkbride has remained with the show ever since.[5]

In 2009 actress Kirkbride stated that she felt she was coming to the end of the road with the show but a spokesperson for the show insisted that there were no immediate plans for the actress to leave and said that she's expected to be in the cast when the show celebrates its 50th anniversary in December 2010.[6]

Storylines

Relationships and first marriage

Deirdre wasted no time chatting up Alan Howard before she knew he was married. In the past, Deirdre's boyfriends have included Billy Walker (Ken Farrington), Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs) and Dave Barton (the actor who played Dave, David Beckett, is now Anne's partner). In a number of early scenes, Deirdre repeatedly mentioned a former boyfriend known as 'Seb H'.

It wasn't long before she set her sights on Billy Walker, a man nearly 20 years her senior. She wasn't intimidated by Billy's domineering mother Annie Walker who disapproved of Deirdre as she felt Deirdre was from the wrong side of the tracks. The wedding was meant to be a low key affair, paid for by Billy but it was called off. Billy subsequently left to run a wine bar in Jersey.

Deirdre then decided she was attracted to her boss, Ray Langton. Ray was also quite a bit older than her but they married and were quite happy for a time. Deirdre was far from the quiet, submissive type that Ray initially thought she was and wasn't afraid to stand up to him when necessary.

In March 1977, Ray and Deirdre moved into No. 5 Coronation Street, shortly after their daughter Tracy was born on 24 January. However, their wedded bliss didn't last. Deirdre was sexually assaulted under the viaduct at the end of the street whilst walking home. It had a profound effect on her, and the following month, she contemplated suicide, standing on the parapet of a motorway bridge. She only snapped back to reality when a lorry driver asked her for directions. However, the marriage never recovered, and by September 1978, Ray was having an affair with a waitress, Janice Stubbs. When Deirdre found out, they decided to start afresh and move to Holland, as Ray had been offered a job there, but at their farewell party in November 1978, Deirdre decided not to go and Ray left alone. Deirdre and Ray subsequently divorced.

Deirdre is blocked in by timber and believes Tracy is trapped underneath. (1979).

In 1979, Deirdre was touched when Sally Norton bought Tracy a doll but made excuses to stop Sally taking Tracy out. Later, Deirdre left Tracy outside the Rovers whilst she visited Annie for knitting patterns, but they were disturbed by a terrible crashing sound. Deirdre went outside to find a lorry had spilt a load of timber into the front of the Rovers, crushing the front of the pub. Deirdre hysterically clawed at the timber screaming for Tracy, who she believed was underneath.

After this, Deirdre dated Mike Baldwin and attempted to reconcile with Billy Walker (her ex-fiancé), but soon realised that Ken Barlow was better suited to her. In January 1980, she strongly hinted to Ken that if he proposed to her, she wouldn't say no. This scared Ken away - he felt he was too old for her and would be unsuitable as he had already been married twice. In January 1981, Ken asked her out again and their romance was briefly revived -until Deirdre had a fling with Dirk van der Stek, a Dutch colleague of Ray's. However, Deirdre was still attracted to Ken, and when Dirk left, she hinted that she was still available. They went out for a meal and agreed to see more of each other without getting tied down.

In 1981, over 24 million viewers watched Deirdre's wedding to William Roache's character, Ken Barlow (which generated higher ratings for ITV than the wedding of Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer).[7][8] Ken eventually adopted Ray and Deirdre's daughter, Tracy, and they lived with Uncle Albert in Number 1.

By February 1982, Deirdre suggested they have a baby but Ken firmly dismissed the idea, saying he didn't want the responsibility. In May 1982, there were a number of muggings in the area. Deirdre's suspicions were aroused about local boy Ray Attwood when a detective asked youth club organiser Ken if he noticed anything suspicious. Ken refused to contact the police, not wanting to betray Ray's confidence until he had evidence, but after Betty Turpin was mugged, Deirdre went against Ken's wishes - and it emerged that Ray was the mugger. Ken felt Deirdre had betrayed him. However, later that month, Ken agreed they could try for a baby.

The marriage got into trouble when Deirdre, feeling insecure, had an affair with ex-boyfriend Mike Baldwin in late 1982. The story ran on into 1983 and was a ratings winner, the first Corrie story to be written about in the country's newspapers. The episode in which Deirdre broke off with Mike after reconciling with Ken was a national event. The episode in 1983 when she ended her affair with Mike and reconciled with Ken was the highest rated episode and the news was so big it ended up being announced on the scoreboard during a Manchester United vs Arsenal match at Old Trafford, with the words "Ken and Deirdre reunited. Ken 1 - Mike 0" leading to cheers from the spectators.[9][10]

At Ken's urging, Deirdre ran for local council and won. Ken wasn't happy about the amount of time she spent on council business and they rowed frequently about it. Deirdre couldn't leave her constituents to their problems, though, and persisted, despite Ken feeling neglected. As a result, Ken had an affair with his secretary, Wendy Crozier, and Deirdre started divorce proceedings in 1990. True to form, however, the rifts in their tempestuous relationship healed and they got back together.

In the interim, Deirdre fell in love with Samir Rachid, a Moroccan man she met while on holiday. Deirdre brought Samir to Weatherfield, insisting that it was much more than a holiday romance. Everyone was shocked when Deirdre married Samir and Tracy nearly didn't go to the wedding, disgusted with her mother's antics. Deirdre and Samir decided to move to Morocco but tragically, she was widowed when Samir was killed by thugs the day before he was due to donate a kidney to Tracy (who had suffered kidney failure after a drug overdose). Deirdre was devastated by his death, the transplant was successful but Deirdre couldn't help wishing Tracy had died, instead of him.

Deirdre and Ken looked to be getting back together after Samir's death but when she discovered, in 1995, that Ken had got hairdresser Denise Osborne pregnant, she refused attempts at a reconciliation. Ken had always refused to have a baby with her and this was quite a blow to Deirdre.

"Free The Weatherfield One"

The most controversial storyline Kirkbride played was when her character went to prison in 1998 for a crime she did not commit. Deirdre had begun a relationship with 'airline pilot' Jon Lindsay, who treated her to an extravagant lifestyle. Unfortunately it was funded by crime and deception. She had no idea what Jon was doing behind her back but learned the hard way when she was accused of fraud.

Jon had implicated Deirdre in his numerous scams. They split up after she found out he was still married to another woman. When she gave him money towards a mortgage and then tried to take it back, she was charged with theft. Jon portrayed her as the brains behind the fraud but she had known nothing about it. The jury returned a guilty verdict on Dierdre's charge of fraud. The judge said Diedre was a manipulative woman who had tricked Jon into securing her a mortgage. She was sent to prison for 18 months while Jon walked free.

While in prison, Deirdre repeatedly protested her innocence to the other prisoners' annoyance. She was regularly mocked and taunted by cell mate Jackie Dobbs (whose teenage son Tyrone soon moved in with Jack and Vera Duckworth) whose taunts included a comment that Dierdre's late husband Samir had been "run over on the camel" (in reference to him being Moroccan).

The British public started a campaign, pleading with Granada Television to "free the Weatherfield One."[6] The Home Secretary even involved Prime Minister Tony Blair, who, with a touch of irony, attempted to intervene on Deirdre's behalf. Ken Barlow and Mike Baldwin fought to free Deirdre, and they were successful when another woman tricked by Jon came forward and made the police realise that he was the con man that Deirdre claimed. Deirdre was released and Jon was finally brought to justice. Mike Baldwin came to her rescue with legal fees and a place to stay, much to the chagrin of Ken and Mike's wife, Alma. The traumas of the past year and daughter Tracy's wedding to Robert Preston led Deirdre to reunite with Ken at a Valentine's disco in February 1999.

Reconciling with Ken Barlow

In December 2001, Deirdre once again became dissatisfied with Ken. After a row with him and his son Peter, Deirdre slept with Dev Alahan, her boss at the Corner Shop. Afterwards, Dev rejected Deirdre and they kept their liaison a secret for over a year, until Dev started dating her daughter, Tracy. This prompted Deirdre to confess her fling with Dev to Tracy and Ken. Ken forgave her and they stayed together, dealing with the trials and tribulations of their children's turbulent love lives, rather than their own.

Eventually, Deirdre and Ken were engaged again, and tied the knot in an episode on April 8, 2005. The marriage was supposed to coincide with the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles, just as Ken and Deirdre's first marriage coincided with Charles and Diana's nuptials, but scheduling conflicts due to Prince Charles going to the funeral of Pope John Paul II ended up throwing the date off by one day. Nearly 13 million people watched the television event. Only nine million watched the royal nuptials; Ken and Deirdre's second ratings victory against the royal family made the national newspapers.[11]

Deirdre's ex-husband, Ray Langton, returned to the Street in 2005, after last appearing in 1978, and announced he was dying from cancer. He died at Deirdre and Ken's wedding reception held at the Rovers Return Inn.

Charlie Stubbs' murder

In January 2007, Tracy murdered her cheating lover Charlie Stubbs and made it look like self-defence. She claimed that he had been beating and mistreating her. Deirdre believed Tracy's lies and stood by her. Although Deirdre did her best to defend her daughter in court, she couldn't lie after Tracy told her the truth about Charlie's death on 25 March 2007. Tracy explained she had killed him in cold blood in a special 'two-hander' episode.[12] Consequently, she had a panic attack in the witness box. Tracy was found guilty of Charlie's murder in April 2007. Her fifteen year sentence devastated Deirdre. She resumed her smoking habit, having previously given up in the 1980s, and left her and Ken's marriage on rocky ground.

Later problems with Ken Barlow

After weeks of turmoil at No. 1 Coronation Street, Ken offered Deirdre a shocking ultimatum. During a blazing row, he announced that if she left, he would be gone by the time she got back. True to his word, Ken left and began rebuilding a relationship with his son Daniel Osbourne, and his mother, Denise Osbourne. Deirdre, full of resentment, promised to confront Denise, and on 11 May 2007, matters came to a head. The pair rowed in front of an audience at the Rovers Return, an argument which resulted in Deirdre slapping her nemesis, who was then ushered out by Ken.

Deirdre has since tried to mend her relationship with Ken and even apologised for her behaviour in the Rovers', but she failed to convince him to come back to her at that time. Since then, Ken has returned to No.1 and reconciled with Deirdre.

In October 2008 her stepson Peter returned with son Simon in tow. Her and Ken tried to help him with his drinking problems but Ken found it too much and began an affair with a woman named Martha Fraser in January 2009. Peter's alcoholic antics came to a head on March 30, 2009 when he accidentally caused a fire at the flat trapping him and Simon inside. Deirdre looked on horrified as Peter and Simon were rescued just as the flat exploded. Around this time, Ken and Deirdre's marriage was beginning to falter with Ken being absent for long periods of time on the pretense of doing research on canals, when in reality he was seeing Martha. He almost left Deirdre for Martha but changed his mind at the last minute. On 8 May 2009, Ken showed Deirdre the farewell letter that he had written for her, admitting to his infedelity. Deirdre was shocked by the revelation but forgave Ken. Blanche was stunned that Deirdre was willing to take Ken back, tired of her mother's interference, Deirdre ordered her to move out of Number 1.

In July 2009, it was revealed that she had to re-apply to her job as they were to cut down the number of workers. In August, she was made redundant and confided in Betty that she did not know what do to.

When Peter Barlow decided to open a bar with Leanne Battersby with George Wilson (Simon's other grandfather) investing in it Ken was so against the idea that he called a meeting in The Rovers and had an article written in a newspaper which also detailed Deirdre's relationship with Jon Lindsay and Tracy murdering Charlie Stubbs. Deirdre and Ken fell out for a period, however, Eileen Grimshaw helped them make up by saying that they were lucky to have each other.

References

  1. ^ Webmaster (2007). "Coronation Street - Cast & Characters - Deirdre Barlow". ITV.com. http://www.itv.com/Soaps/coronationstreet/castandcharacters/atoe/DeirdreBarlow1.html. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  2. ^ Tvor (30 August 2007). "Character Study: Deirdre Hunt Barlow". Corrie Blog. http://www.corrieblog.tv/2007/08/draft_character_2.html#more. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  3. ^ "Home Page - ITNSource". ITN. http://www.itnsource.com. Retrieved ?. 
  4. ^ Unknown. "Deirdre Anne Barlow". Bookrags. http://www.bookrags.com/wiki/Deirdre_Barlow. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  5. ^ a b Life in the Street. Boxtree Limited. 1991. p. 36. ISBN 1-85283-161-8. http://www.book-info.com/isbn/1-85283-161-8.htm. 
  6. ^ a b Daily Mail Reporter (13 February 2009). "'I don't want to grow old on Coronation Street': Deirdre Barlow close to quitting soap after 36 years". TheDaily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1143136/I-dont-want-grow-old-Coronation-Street-Deirdre-Barlow-hints-shes-ready-leave-soap-34-years.html. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  7. ^ Editor (1996). "ITV - CORONATION STREET". Solarnavigator. http://www.solarnavigator.net/films_movies_actors/television/coronation_street.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  8. ^ Clemmie Moodie (08 March 2005). "Getting married again... it's such a yawn". The Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-340519/Getting-married--yawn.html. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  9. ^ "Coronation Street: Who's Who?". Virginmedia.com. 25 January 2007. http://www.virginmedia.com/tvradio/soaps/coronation-street-history2.php. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  10. ^ Jack Kibble-White (June 2000). "EVERYDAY FOLK AND INFLATION". Off The Telly. http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/drama/soapinflation.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  11. ^ Martin Dunphy, Verne McDonald, and Dave Watson (29 December 2005). "2005 in review - Around the World". Straight.com. http://www.straight.com/article/2005-in-review-around-the-world. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  12. ^ "Sun 25 March 2007". TV.com. 25 March 2007. http://www.tv.com/sun-25-march-2007/episode/1008140/summary.html. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 

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