Ken Barlow

Ken Barlow

Kenneth "Ken" Barlow is a long-standing fictional character from the ITV soap opera Coronation Street, played by William Roache. Ken was created by Tony Warren as one of Coronation Street's original characters. He debuted in the soap's first episode on 9 December 1960. Having appeared continuously since the programme's inception, December 2010 marked Ken's 50th anniversary on-screen. At this time, Roache officially became the longest-serving actor in a televised soap opera. Roache was honoured at the 2010 Guinness World Records ceremony for the achievement, when he surpassed actor Don Hastings from the American soap opera As the World Turns, who previously held this title. Roache stated in 2010 that he has no plans to leave the role and will remain in Coronation Street for as long as they will have him.

Ken was introduced as the educated son of a working-class family. Portrayed as moralistic and a political activist, Ken differed from the other, predominantly working-class characters in the soap opera. The character developed a reputation as a ladies' man; plots saw Ken dating numerous women, marrying five times to four women (Valerie Tatlock in 1962, Janet Reid in 1972 and Deirdre Hunt in 1981 and again in 2005), fathering four children (Lawrence Cunningham, Susan Barlow, Peter Barlow and Daniel Osbourne), and adopting one daughter (Tracy Barlow). Of the many women Ken has been paired with, his relationship with Deirdre has been the most enduring. Ken and Deirdre's fictional relationship made newspaper headlines in Britain in 1983 due to Deirdre's adultery with Mike Baldwin. The storyline captured both media and viewer interest. 20 million people tuned in to watch Ken's discovery of the affair. The storyline lead to a feud between Ken and Mike, prominent in both characters' narratives until Mike's screen death in 2006.

Despite his somewhat antagonistic role in the show's early years, Ken developed a reputation among critics for representing an archetypal "boring man". This is an allegation denied by Roache, who has cited Ken's evolution over the years, his chaotic love life and dysfunctional family as evidence to the contrary. Roache has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the British Soap Awards for his portrayal of Ken. Away from the canonical serial, Ken has been portrayed by James Roache (William Roache's son) in the dramatisation The Road to Coronation Street, and by Simon Chadwick in the play Corrie!. He has also been spoofed by impressionist Jon Culshaw.

Read more about Ken Barlow:  Storylines, Appearances in Other Media, Reception

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