Peter Barlow (Coronation Street)
Chris Gascoyne as Peter Barlow (2011)
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Robert Heanue (1965–70)
Chris Dormer (1970–71)
Mark Duncan (1971)
Linus Roache (1973–75)
Joseph McKenner (1977–78)
David Lonsdale (1986)
Chris Gascoyne (2000–)
|Duration||1965–71, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1986, 2000–03, 2007, 2008–14|
|First appearance||5 April 1965|
|Introduced by||H. V. Kershaw (1965)
Eric Prytherch (1973, 1974)
Susi Hush (1975)
Bill Podmore (1977, 1978)
Jane MacNaught (2000)
Steve Frost (2007)
Kim Crowther (2008)
|Classification||Present; regular (departing)|
Businessman (2000–03, 2008–)
Bookmaker (2000–03, 2008–13,
Factory co-owner (2013-)
Peter Francis Barlow is a fictional character from the ITV television soap opera Coronation Street. The character first appeared onscreen when he was born during the episode aired on 5 April 1965. Currently portrayed by Chris Gascoyne, who has portrayed the character in episodes since the live 40th anniversary show in December 2000, the character has been previously portrayed by five different actors.
Raised with his twin sister Susan, by his grandparents from the age of five after the death of his mother Valerie Barlow (Anne Reid), Peter grew up apart from his father Ken (William Roache). He joined the Royal Navy in 1980 and married Jessica Midgeley 10 years later. The marriage lasted 10 years, after which Peter returned to Weatherfield. Having bought the Bookies, Peter married both Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay) and florist Lucy Richards (Katy Carmichael) in a high profile bigamous storyline. Having been discovered, Peter was left alone and fled Weatherfield. He returned in 2008 with a son Simon (Alex Bain) whom he had by Lucy who had died from cancer. Struggling to cope with fatherhood, Peter took to drinking and after numerous relationships, got engaged and married Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) in the 50th anniversary episode; however, they separated in February 2012 after his affair with Carla Connor (Alison King) was exposed. On 11 January 2014, it was confirmed that Gascoyne would be taking an extended break from the show in late 2014.
Peter has been favourably viewed on by critics and Gascoyne has received both a nomination for Best Actor at the 2011 All About Soap Bubbles Awards and a Best Actor nomination in the British Soap Awards 2011.
Peter and his twin sister Susan are born on 5 April 1965. Their names are decided the next day and they come home on 26 April 1965.
In January 1971, Ken and Valerie plan to emigrate to Jamaica as Ken has been offered a teaching post there. On 27 January, the residents of Coronation Street organise a going-away party in the Rovers. While Valerie is getting ready, she is electrocuted and killed by a faulty hairdryer. Wanting the best for the twins, their father sends them to Glasgow to live with Valerie's parents.
Peter doesn't make it to Ken's wedding to Deirdre (Anne Kirkbride) in 1981 as he has joined the navy and is away at sea. In 1986, he visits when Susan marries Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs). As Ken refuses to go to the wedding, Peter makes an emotional appeal, saying that he and Susan had barely seen their father in the last 15 years and that he always assumed, given half a chance, Ken would step up if his children needed him and he was able to help. Ken reconsiders and attends the wedding.
Peter returns in December 2000. In early 2001, he accidentally lets slip that Susan has a teenage son, Adam Barlow, fathered by Mike Baldwin. Deirdre tells Dev Alahan (Jimmi Harkishin), who tells Mike. Susan (Joanna Foster), who has been visiting at the time, tries to flee when Mike threatens legal action and she is killed in a car accident. Peter is devastated, blaming himself and Deirdre for Susan's death. Peter gets a job at the local bookies, stealing money from the dodgy owner and making it look like a break-in. He begins dating barmaid, Shelley Unwin, but when Peter's old Navy friend, Ciaran McCarthy (Keith Duffy), visits, he makes a pass at Shelley. Peter believes Ciaran's side of the story and Shelley moves out, though the couple later reconcile. Peter later meets florist, Lucy Richards, when buying flowers for Shelley. He is attracted to her and a brief affair begins but doesn't last.
Lucy, unknown to Peter, hires his sister, Tracy Barlow (Kate Ford), to cover her maternity leave. Tracy tells Peter that her employer is pregnant and Peter realises that he is the child's father. Peter marries Lucy while engaged to Shelley, promising Lucy it is over with the Rovers' landlady. Lucy gives birth to their son, Simon, in early July 2003 but isn't sure if she wants Peter involved. He is torn between his son and Shelley but marries her in a big church wedding. However, each woman realizes what Peter has done when Lucy sees Shelley sticking her wedding photos into an album and recognizes the groom and the bridesmaid. Lucy returns the same day and shows Shelley her wedding photos. Horrified, Shelley throws Peter out and he leaves briefly, so Shelley and Lucy take control of the bookies and investigate pressing charges for bigamy. When he returns, he reclaims the bookies and when Lucy sees that Shelley and Peter could reconcile, Lucy tricks him into thinking they have a future together. After he has told Shelley in front of a packed pub that he is leaving her for Lucy, Shelley punches him and Lucy announces that she and Simon are emigrating to Australia alone. Peter resigns himself to never knowing his son and leaves the Street soon after.
On 8 January 2007, Peter returns after Ken has contacted him regarding Tracy's stormy relationship with boyfriend, Charlie Stubbs (Bill Ward). Only hours later, he is viciously attacked by Stubbs who thinks that Peter and Tracy have slept together. Tracy later kills Charlie, supposedly in self-defence, and he decides to stay when she is charged with murder. He has a brief dalliance with Maria Sutherland (Samia Smith), who was also involved with Charlie. However, once Tracy is convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison, Peter returns to Portsmouth, taking Adam (Sam Robertson), with him.
In 2008, Lucy dies of cancer and Peter gets custody of their 5-year-old son Simon (Alexander Bain). Peter brings him to Weatherfield, seeking help from Ken and Deirdre. Ken suspects that Peter plans to leave Simon with him but Peter stays on learning that Lucy has left her estate to him, providing that he uses the money for Simon's benefit. He buys the local bookmakers, renaming it Barlow Bookies. Peter becomes attracted to Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) but she is initially non-committal, suspecting that he has a drink problem. Eventually, Leanne agrees to go out with Peter but they only have a few dates when Peter has to return to Portsmouth briefly and while he is away, his drink problems come to a head and he ends up in rehab. When he returns, Leanne learns he had a fling with another woman. She dumps him and leaves Weatherfield but Peter's drink problem is far from under control, until he passes out drunk and accidentally sets fire to the flat, almost killing himself and Simon. Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien) and Luke Strong (Craig Kelly) rescue them and Peter finally admits that he is an alcoholic, giving up booze and attending a support group. He takes Michelle Connor (Kym Marsh) on a date, but they decide it will not work. Leanne returns and she and Peter reconcile.
They decide to open up a bar but Ken is hesitant because of Peter's drinking, but Lucy's father, George, Anthony Valentine offers to fund the project. The bar never opens because Peter falls off the wagon and returns to rehab. While he is away, George applies for full custody of Simon. George and his wife, Eve, take Simon to Blackpool but he runs away. Peter frantically searches for him but Simon comes home alone and unharmed and George gives up his claim for custody. Peter and Leanne get engaged, but Peter feels threatened by the return of Leanne's ex-husband, Nick Tilsley (Ben Price), until Leanne convinces him that Nick is simply a friend. Nick decides to re-open the bar and offers Leanne a job and since he believes that it will make Leanne happy, he persuades her to take the job. Peter starts mentoring Leanne's friend, Carla Connor (Alison King), when he realises she has a drink problem but is annoyed by her attempts to seduce him.
Peter has his stag party in his former bar, The Joinery, on 6 December 2010, but the bar explodes due to a problem with the gas and a tram is derailed by the explosion. The bar is destroyed and Peter is trapped in the rubble with Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold) and Nick. Peter is crushed and Nick and Ashley help him out. Ashley sacrifices his life to help Peter escape and he is rushed to hospital with crush injuries to the legs and trauma to the lower back and chest, and suffers a cardiac tamponade. Very aware that he is unlikely to survive, he marries Leanne at his bedside but goes into cardiac arrest moments after the ceremony concludes. He survives but has a long road of recovery ahead. He leaves hospital in a wheel chair and moves in with his dad for a couple of weeks while unable to manage the stairs at the flat. Towards the end of December 2010, he and Leanne go on their honeymoon. On their return, Nick convinces Peter to start drinking again but he stops for Simon's sake. Leanne and Peter decide to renew their vows but Peter is devastated when he learns that Leanne had an affair with Nick. Peter uses the blessing to announce the affair to the congregation, telling Leanne that he wants a divorce. Peter gets revenge on Nick by scaring him in the ruins of the Joinery before reconciling with Leanne. Peter, Leanne and Simon go on holiday to celebrate their reunion. On their return, Peter returns to work, although he is still walking with a crutch.
In June 2011, Peter becomes friendly with Carla again, making Leanne extremely insecure and leading to several arguments. The new manageress at the Rovers, Stella Price (Michelle Collins), saves Leanne from an armed robber while Peter collects Simon. To express gratitude, Peter and Leanne invite Stella around for dinner, and Stella steals a picture of Leanne from the flat. Peter finds the picture in Stella's purse, which she accidentally leaves in the bookies, and confronts her - where she admits that she is Leanne's mother. During Leanne's 30th birthday party at the Rovers, Stella tells Leanne, who is furious with her for abandoning her as a baby - and with Peter for not telling her as soon as he found out. In July, a pregnancy test confirms that Leanne and Peter are going to have a baby. Leanne is overjoyed, but although Peter also seems happy on the surface, he admits to Ken that he isn't sure they are ready. While Peter and Leanne celebrate in the Rovers, Carla Connor (Alison King) overhears Deirdre and Ken congratulating them and later pushes Peter into confirming that Leanne is pregnant. Leanne is furious when she realises Carla knows and drops hints to Simon about it. She confronts Peter, and they have a heated row which ends with Leanne insulting Peter about his alcoholism. Rather than respond, he storms out of the flat. Feeling guilty, Leanne goes after him but trips and falls down the stairs, where she is later found by Stella, who raises the alarm. At the hospital, a doctor confirms that Leanne has miscarried. Peter feels guilty about the stress Leanne has been under lately and feels he may have jinxed the pregnancy with his reservations. When Leanne realises that Peter had doubts about the pregnancy, she assumes it means that he hasn't fully forgiven her for the affair with Nick and orders him to leave. Carla finds Peter in a highly agitated state and takes advantage of his vulnerability to try to seduce him again - he almost succumbs, but at the last minute pushes her away. After talking things through with Ken, Peter returns to the hospital and tells Leanne that he wants them to try again when she is recovered.
In December 2011, Peter starts drinking again and has an affair with Carla, telling her that she's the woman he loves and that he'll leave Leanne for her. Despite denying the affair to Leanne, he is forced to admit it during Frank Foster's rape trial. She offers to forgive him and thinks that they can work it through because she loves him and for Simon's sake but Peter tells her he loves Carla. Leanne leaves in a taxi with a tearful Simon chasing after the car, begging her to stay. Afterwards Peter finds himself struggling with Simon who, devastated over Leanne's departure, blames his father and starts acting up. While Ken reluctantly offers Peter his support when he sees that his son truly loves Carla, Deirdre makes her disapproval of the relationship known and Stella bars him and Carla from the Rovers. Everyone gradually accepts the relationship and Stella soon lets them back into the Rovers, and Leanne accepts the relationship (although she refuses to speak to Peter).
In March 2012, Carla's ex-lover and rapist Frank Foster (Andrew Lancel) buys Carla out of the factory and cons her out of a deal they made, Peter attempts to beat Frank up but is held back by Carla and Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor). When Frank is later found murdered in the factory with major head injuries, many residents are suspected of the killing, including Michelle Connor, Sally Webster, Kevin Webster, and Carla. Carla initially suspects Peter of killing Frank, especially when he does not come home and when he does he has blood stains on his shirt. Realizing that Carla is likely to go down for Frank's killing as she was the last known person to see him alive, Peter confesses to Frank's murder but is released when a friend from his support group provides him with an alibi.
It is later revealed that Frank's mother Anne was the culprit and Peter begins a custody battle with Leanne over Simon. Leanne eventually wins a residency order and after she begins a relationship with ex-husband Nick Tilsley, Peter begins drinking again and ends his relationship with Carla in a drunken row. He later abducts Simon from school and plans to run away with him, enlisting Carla in the plan. However, Carla's sister-in-law Michelle thwarts their plan and tells Leanne, who follows them to the railway station where Simon chooses to stay in Weatherfield with her. Peter says an emotional goodbye before he and Carla decide to go anyway, saying the break is what they need to sort themselves out. They return about a month later. In July 2013, Peter gets engaged to Carla and she signs 49% of her clothing factory Underworld over to him when he loses possession of the bookies.
When Leanne's husband Nick is involved in a car accident, he ends up with brain damage and Simon moves temporarily in with him and Carla. They employ Tina McIntyre as their nanny and Peter develops romantic feelings for her. They nearly kiss in The Rovers toilets but are caught by landlady Liz McDonald. The next day, Peter still goes on to marry Carla but while she is asleep in the hotel, him and Tina share a passionate kiss. The next day, Peter insists to Tina that it was a one off and he goes on his honeymoon with Carla. When he returns, he learns that Tina kissed Carla's brother Rob, who is dating his sister Tracy. He confronts Rob and warns him not to hurt Tracy, but he is actually jealous and can't bare to see Tina with another man. When Peter and Tina are alone in the flat, while Carla is visiting Hayley, they have sex in Carla and Peter's bedroom. For Christmas, Carla gives Peter a further 1% of the factory, making them equal partners.
Carla finds out that she is pregnant and confides in Michelle. Carla almost has a termination but cannot go through with it. Carla tells Peter that she is pregnant. Tina tells Peter that she might be pregnant. Peter gets drunk and tells Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) about his affair with Tina.
Robert Heanue was the first actor to portray the character from 1965 to 1970. Chris Dormer played the role from 1970 to 1972 when the 7-year-old actor was written out of the soap due to his parents' emigration to Canada. He did not continue to act and reflected on his time as the young Peter in 2001, "I really enjoyed the Street. I remember Pat Phoenix and Julie Goodyear kissing and tickling me because they thought I was cute. Most of the actors were nice, but some weren't. Violet Carson, who played Ena Sharples, was very grumpy. She didn't like children and really scared me." On-screen Peter and his sister Susan were written out of the soap to live with their grandparents when their mother Valerie Barlow was killed off.
One of the six actors who has portrayed the character is Linus Roache, the real-life son of William Roache who portrays Peter's father, Ken Barlow in the programme. Linus returned to the show in 2010, playing Lawrence Cunningham, another son of Ken Barlow.
Personality and characterisation
Upon the character's return to the show in October 2008, Chris Gascoyne spoke of his character's destructive personality in an interview with Digital Spy, he stated, "He's been trying against the odds to sort his life out, but he can't. And when it doesn't work and it all goes wrong for him, he has a drink. There are hurdles in his way all the time. He's stubborn and resents people telling him what to do. He'll listen to advice, but he won't take any notice if he thinks the person giving it isn't in a place to do so. That happens a lot with Ken."
In an interview with ITV Chris Gascoyne said, "Drink is becoming an issue and his self-esteem is low. He can’t see a way out and he can’t imagine doing this for the rest of his life (fatherhood)." During the storyline he described his character as being seen as a coward, adding, "He has the potential to be a very good dad but at the minute he feels like everything is conspiring against him and he hasn’t got the confidence or the self-esteem to cope."
It was announced in September 2013 that Peter would begin an affair with Tina, and will go on until her exit in the summer of 2014.
Ahead of the fire storyline in March 2009, the fire minister Sadiq Khan said: "I would like to thank Coronation Street for highlighting this very important issue. Peter Barlow's actions show how dangerous it is to go to sleep while smoking, putting not only his but son Simon's life at risk too". The episode in which the fire was screened drew in 10.3 million viewers (42.6% audience share) in March 2009.
In February 2011, Gascoyne was nominated for Best Actor at the 2011 All About Soap Bubbles Awards for his portrayal of Peter. He was nominated in the category of "Best Actor" at the 2011 British Soap Awards.
- Webmaster (22 October 2008). "Coronation Street News - Peter Barlow". ITV. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
- Kilkelly, Daniel (11 January 2014). "Coronation Street producer on Tony story: 'He's a man with an edge'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- "The soaps' lost children; HOW YOUNG STARS COPED WHEN AXE FELL ON FAME.". The Mirror. 2001-05-02. Retrieved 2010-04-09.
- Kris Green (16 December 2008). "Chris Gascoyne (Peter Barlow, Corrie)". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- Sadiq Khan (27 March 2009). "Fire Minister Thanks Coronation Street for Highlighting Dangers of Fire". Manchesterfire.gov.uk. Retrieved 2009-06-10.[dead link]
- Kris Green (31 March 2009). "Soaps Ratings Roundup: March 30". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
- Kilkelly, Daniel (13 February 2011). "In Full: All About Soap Bubble nominations". Digital Spy (London: Hachette Filipacchi UK). Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- Kilkelly, Daniel (7 March 2011). "British Soap Awards 2011 voting opens". Digital Spy (Hachette Filipacchi UK). Retrieved 2011-03-07.
- Ellis, Sarah (18–24 February 2012). "Soapbox". Inside Soap (Hearst Magazines UK) (7): 97.