Anne Kirkbride as Deirdre Barlow (2011)
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Anne Kirkbride|
|Introduced by||Eric Prytherch|
|First appearance||20 November 1972|
|Book appearances||Coronation Street: The Complete Saga|
|Spin-off appearances||Ken and Deirdre's Bedtime Stories (2011)|
|Alias||Deirdre Hunt (Maiden name)
Deirdre Langton (Married name)
Deirdre Rachid (Married name)
|Date of birth||8 July 1955|
|Home||1 Coronation Street|
Deirdre Anne Barlow (née Hunt, previously Langton, Barlow and Rachid) is a long-standing fictional character in the UK television ITV Granada soap opera, Coronation Street. Portrayed by actress Anne Kirkbride, the character first appeared onscreen during the episode that was aired on 20 November 1972.
Deirdre wastes no time chatting up Alan Howard before she knows he is 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 Kirkbride's partner). In a number of early scenes, Deirdre repeatedly mentions a former boyfriend known as 'Seb H'.
It is not long before she sets her sights on Billy Walker, a man nearly 20 years her senior and is not intimidated by Billy's domineering mother Annie Walker (Doris Speed) who disapproves of Deirdre, as she feels Deirdre is not good enough for her son. The wedding is meant to be a low key affair, paid for by Billy but it is called off, and Billy goes to run a wine bar in Jersey.
In March 1977, Ray and Deirdre move into No. 5 Coronation Street, shortly after their daughter Tracy (Christabel Finch) is born on 24 January. However, their wedded bliss does not last. Deirdre is sexually assaulted whilst walking home, which leads her to contemplate suicide, standing on the parapet of a motorway bridge. She only snaps back to reality when a lorry driver asks her for directions. However, the marriage never recovers and by September 1978, Ray is having an affair with a waitress, Janice Stubbs. When Deirdre finds out, they decide to start afresh and emigrate to Holland as Ray has been offered a job there, but at their farewell party in November 1978, Deirdre decides not to go and Ray leaves alone. Deirdre and Ray subsequently divorce.
In 1979, Deirdre is touched when Sally Norton (Yvonne Nicholson) brings Tracy a doll but makes excuses to stop Sally taking Tracy out. Later, Deirdre leaves Tracy outside the Rovers whilst she visits Annie for knitting patterns but they are disturbed by a terrible crashing sound and Deirdre finds a lorry outside has spilt a load of timber into the front of the Rovers, crushing the front of the pub. Deirdre hysterically claws at the timber screaming for Tracy, who she believed was underneath.
After this, Deirdre dates Mike Baldwin and attempts to reconcile with Billy Walker (her ex-fiancé), but soon realised that Ken Barlow (William Roache) is better suited to her. In January 1980, she strongly hints to Ken that if he proposed to her, she would not say no. This scares Ken away as he feels he is too old for her and has been married twice. In January 1981, Ken asks her out again and their romance is briefly revived - until Deirdre has a fling with Dirk van der Stek (Lex van Delden), a Dutch colleague of Ray's. However, Deirdre is still attracted to Ken, and when Dirk leaves, she hints that she is still available. They go out for a meal and agree 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). Ken adopts Ray and Deirdre's daughter, Tracy, and they live with Uncle Albert (Jack Howarth) in Number 1.
By February 1982, Deirdre suggests they have a baby but Ken firmly dismisses the idea and in May, there are a number of muggings in the area. Deirdre's suspicions are aroused about local boy Ray Attwood (Joe Searby) when a detective asks youth club organiser Ken if he noticed anything suspicious. Ken refuses to call the police, not wanting to betray Ray's confidence until he has evidence, but after Betty Turpin (Betty Driver) is mugged, Deirdre goes against Ken's wishes - and Ray is the mugger. Ken feels Deirdre has betrayed him. However, later that month, Ken agrees they should try for a baby. The marriage gets into trouble when Deirdre, feeling insecure, has an affair with ex-boyfriend Mike Baldwin in late 1982. The story runs on into 1983 and is a ratings winner, the first Corrie story to be written about in the country's newspapers. The episode in which Deirdre breaks off with Mike after reconciling with Ken is a national event. The episode in 1983 when she ends her affair with Mike and reconciles 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.
At Ken's urging, Deirdre runs for local council and wins. Ken is unhappy about the amount of time she spends on council business and they argue frequently about it but she persists, despite Ken feeling neglected. As a result, Ken has an affair with his secretary, Wendy Crozier (Roberta Kerr), and Deirdre starts divorce proceedings in 1990. Deirdre dates plumber Dave Barton (David Beckett) and later con-man Phil Jennings (Tommy Boyle), who tricks her into investing in his nightclub.
In 1994, Deirdre leaves to look after an ailing Blanche (Maggie Jones) (a storyline devised due to Anne Kirkbride's sick leave), foiling a potential reunion with Ken. When Deirdre returns, she hopes she and Ken will reconcile but learns that Ken has been seeing hairdresser Denise Osborne (Denise Black) and she is expecting a baby. Deirdre is devastated as Ken never wanted a baby with her and needing a holiday, Deirdre goes to Morocco, where she falls in love with Samir Rachid (Al Nedjari). He comes back to Weatherfield with her, insisting their relationship is more than a holiday romance, and they marry in November 1994 but Tracy (Dawn Acton) almost misses the wedding, disgusted with her mother's antics. Deirdre and Samir decide to move to Morocco but tragically, she is widowed when Samir is killed by thugs the day before he is due to donate a kidney to Tracy (who had suffered kidney failure after a drug overdose). Deirdre is devastated by his death, the transplant is successful but Deirdre can't help wishing Tracy had died, instead of him.
Deirdre later falls in love with 'airline pilot' Jon Lindsay (Owen Aaronovitch), who Ken exposes as a fraud after seeing him working at a tie shop in the airport. Jon tells Deirdre that he was a pilot but was too embarrassed to admit that he had lost his licence due to failing eyesight. Deirdre forgives Jon, unaware he is implicating her in his numerous financial scams. They split up after she finds out he is married - but when Deirdre tries to retrieve the money she gave Jon towards a mortgage, she is charged with theft. Jon portrays her as the brains behind the fraud but she knew nothing about it. Despite this, Deirdre is found guilty of fraud and the judge calls her a manipulative woman that tricked Jon into securing her a mortgage, giving her a prison sentence of 18 months while Jon walks free. While in prison, Deirdre insists that she is innocent, annoying the other prisoners who regularly mock and taunt her, particularly her cell mate, Jackie Dobbs (Margi Clarke). The British public started a campaign, pleading with Granada Television to "free the Weatherfield One." 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 fight to free Deirdre and they are successful when another woman tricked by Jon backs up Deirdre's version of events, so she is released and Jon is finally brought to justice. Mike Baldwin comes to her rescue with legal fees and a place to stay, much to the chagrin of Ken and Mike's wife, Alma (Amanda Barrie). The traumas of the past year and daughter Tracy's wedding to Robert Preston (Julian McKay) leads Deirdre to reunite with Ken at a Valentine's disco in February 1999.
The 'Free Deirdre Rachid' campaign was likened to the 'Free George Jackson' campaign in 1984 after Brookside character George Jackson was wrongly imprisoned for a warehouse robbery. Unlike Deirdre, George was unsuccessful and had to serve his sentence.
In December 2001, Deirdre becomes unhappy with Ken. After a row with him and his son, Peter (Chris Gascoyne), Deirdre has a one night stand with her boss, Dev Alahan and the next day, Dev makes it clear that he doesn't want to be romantically involved and they keep their liaison secret until Dev starts dating her daughter, Tracy (Kate Ford). Deirdre then confesses her fling with Dev to Tracy and Ken. Ken forgives her and they stay together, dealing with the trials and tribulations of their children's turbulent love lives, rather than their own. Eventually, Deirdre and Ken get engaged again and marry on April 8, 2005. The marriage is 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 end up throwing the date off by one day. Nearly 12 million people watch the television event. Only nine million watch the royal nuptials; Ken and Deirdre's second ratings victory against the royal family makes the national newspapers. Deirdre's ex-husband, Ray Langton, returns to the Street in 2005, after last appearing in 1978, and announces he is dying of stomach cancer. He dies at Deirdre and Ken's wedding reception, held at the Rovers Return Inn.
Deirdre's life is turned upside down again in early 2007 when Tracy is accused of murdering her boyfriend, Charlie Stubbs (Bill Ward). Tracy claims self-defence but admits to Deirdre that she did murder him. Despite her anger, Deirdre is still devastated when Tracy is found guilty. After weeks of turmoil at No. 1 Coronation Street, Ken offers Deirdre a shocking ultimatum. During a blazing row, he announces that if she left, he would be gone by the time she got back. True to his word, Ken leaves and begins rebuilding a relationship with his estranged son, Daniel Osbourne (Dominic Holmes), and his mother, Denise Osbourne. Deirdre, full of resentment, promises to confront Denise, and on 11 May 2007, matters come to a head. The pair row in front of an audience at the Rovers Return, an argument which results in Deirdre slapping her nemesis, who is then ushered out by Ken. Deirdre tries to mend her relationship with Ken and apologises for her behaviour but fails to convince him to come back to her at that time. Since then, Ken has returned to No.1 and reconciled with Deirdre.
In July 2009, it is revealed that Deirdre has to re-apply for her job at the council as they are to cut down the number of workers, due to the credit crunch. In August, she is made redundant and confides in Betty that she does not know what do to.
When Peter decided to open a bar with girlfriend, Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson), with George Wilson (Anthony Valentine) (Simon's other grandfather) investing in it, Ken is so against the idea that he calls a meeting at The Rovers and has an article written in a newspaper which also details Deirdre's relationship with Jon Lindsay and Tracy murdering Charlie Stubbs. Deirdre and Ken fall out but Eileen Grimshaw (Sue Cleaver) helps them reconcile by making them realise that they are lucky to have each other.
In 2010, Gail McIntyre threw a pie in Deirdre's face, causing Deirdre to inform her that she wants locking up again. Ken, despite repeated requests by Deirdre to "do something", failed to aid his debilitated wife.
On 4 May 2010, Deirdre is dealt a blow when she discovers that Blanche has died in Portugal. She and Ken are even more surprised to learn that she had been romantically involved with a man called Arnold. She flies out to Portugal to meet him, in learning more about her mother's final days. At Blanche's funeral, she is happy to see Tracy and gives an emotional eulogy paying tribute to her mother's unique character.
Deirdre is delighted when Tracy is released on Christmas Day 2010, making Christmas hard for the McDonalds. Despite knowing about Tracy's manipulative personality, Deirdre supports her but her happiness does not last when she finds Tracy in a pool of blood on New Year's Day and Steve standing over her. They rush Tracy to hospital and when she awakes from her coma, she claims that Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly) is responsible for her injuries. To Deirdre's disbelief, Ken asks Tracy if she is sure that Becky attacked her. She insists she is and Becky is arrested and questioned by the police and Deirdre stands by her and accuses Steve and Becky. However, Tracy's lies are exposed again when Claire Peacock (Julia Haworth) admits she attacked Tracy as she refuses to let Becky take the blame for something she had done and tells the police that she attacked Tracy because Tracy insulted her late husband, Ashley (Steve Arnold), who died in the tram crash.
In August 2012, Tracy complains of stomach pains but no one believes her except Deirdre. Ken assumes that Tracy is making excuses so that they will look after Amy but are stunned to find that Tracy has collapsed of kidney failure, after she doesn't collect Amy from football training. Tracy is hospitalised and she apologises to Deirdre for all the trouble she has caused and that she is the only person who has repeatedly forgiven her for her mistakes.
She has been played by actress Anne Kirkbride in episodes since 1972. Deirdre Hunt came to our screens in 1972 as "a young 17 year old 'dolly bird', someone that liked a bit of fun". 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.
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 James Grainger crushed them with a box when she put them down for a second. Today, her frames are much smaller than they used to be. Actress 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. The large glasses made a comedic reappearance when character Claire Peacock (Julia Haworth), who bore an uncanny resemblance to the young Deirdre, was also to wear the same style of spectacles.
After leaving Oldham Rep at the age of 17 actress Anne Kirkbride featured in a Granada TV play by Jack Rosenthal 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. She was first seen doing her little part when character Elsie Tanner came into a pub to find husband Alan Howard drinking with Deirdre. 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.
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.
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