Kate Ford as Tracy Barlow (2014)
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Christabel Finch (1977–83)
Holly Chamarette (1985–88)
Dawn Acton (1988–99)
Kate Ford (2002–)
|Duration||1977–83, 1985–97, 1999,
|First appearance||24 January 1977|
|Introduced by||Bill Podmore (1977)
Mervyn Watson (1985)
Brian Park (1996, 1997)
Jane MacNaught (1999)
Kieran Roberts (2002)
Kim Crowther (2010)
Barmaid (2003, 2011)
Kebab shop worker (2012)
|Home||1 Coronation Street|
Tracy Lynette Barlow (née Langton; previously Preston, Cropper and McDonald) is a fictional character in the British television soap opera Coronation Street. Since 2002, she has been portrayed by Kate Ford, the latest in a series of actresses who have played Tracy at various ages. Christabel Finch played her from birth on 24 January 1977 to 21 November 1983, with Holly Chamarette taking over from 8 July 1985 to 23 March 1988. Dawn Acton is best known for playing the role regularly from 12 December 1988 to 14 June 1995, and then for brief reappearances in November 1996 till December 1997 and from 17 March till her last appearance as Tracy on 10 October 1999. Kate Ford took over the role from 25 December 2002, although Dawn Acton went to an audition but failed to get the part again. Ford left the role in 2007 making her final appearance on 8 April 2007. Following a three-year break, Ford returned to the role in May 2010. She returned on 24 December 2010.
Portrayed as headstrong, flirty and manipulative, early storylines featuring Tracy concentrated on her childhood and relationship with adoptive father Ken Barlow (William Roache). She went on to feature in storylines about drugs, various family crises, relationships with Roy Cropper (David Neilson) and Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson), a feud with Karen McDonald (Suranne Jones), and a short-lived marriage to Robert Preston. Her exit storyline in 2007 was the culmination of a storyline that saw the character imprisoned for Charlie Stubbs' (Bill Ward) murder. In the on-screen events, Tracy was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Her brief return in May 2010 saw the character lie about Gail McIntyre (Helen Worth) confessing to murdering husband Joe McIntyre (Reece Dinsdale). Her return in December 2010 saw her released from prison after forensic evidence used at her trial was discredited, and getting her daughter Amy (Elle Mulvaney) back as well as being attacked by Claire Peacock (Julia Haworth) and attempting to steal Steve from his wife Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly) resulting in them both having a feud. Tracy later fell pregnant with Steve's twins and then later suffered a miscarriage, she accused Becky of pushing her down the stairs but her lies were revealed at her wedding reception to Steve, the couple later split and Tracy embarked on a relationship with Ryan Connor (Sol Heras) who is fifteen years her junior, the son of Steve's girlfriend; Michelle (Kym Marsh). Tracy has also sparked a feud with Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan), which worsened after it transpired that Tina had kissed her fiancé, Rob Donovan (Marc Baylis).
Tracy is the daughter of Ray (Neville Buswell) and Deirdre Langton (Anne Kirkbride), born in 1977. Ray leaves when Tracy is a baby and she is raised by her mother and stepfather, Ken Barlow (William Roache), who adopts her. Ken and Deirdre separate in December 1989 when Ken has an affair with Wendy Crozier (Roberta Kerr), his secretary at the Weatherfield Recorder. Initially Tracy supports Deirdre, but above all else Tracy wants a return to family life. Once Ken sees the error of his ways and begins seeking a reconciliation, in opposition to Deirdre who wants a divorce, Tracy's allegiance shifts to Ken. Deirdre is subjected to further resentment when she takes up with joiner Dave Barton (David Beckett), who rescues Tracy when she accidentally sets the kitchen on fire. The divorce even affects Tracy's school life as Ken gets a teaching job there in 1990, as he can stay updated on Deirdre's exploits through Tracy. Caught between two warring parents, Tracy starts to rebel by playing truant from school, going instead to the amusement arcade with Steve (Simon Gregson) and Andy McDonald (Nicholas Cochrane). The year also sees Tracy get her first boyfriend, Graham Egerton (Paul Aspden), but it doesn't last long and they end their relationship.
At sixteen, Tracy leaves school with four GCSEs and starts work at Maggie's shop full-time, having made peace with Maggie over their past disagreement. Her relationship with Deirdre is also more cordial but Tracy resents being treated like a child and in October 1993, she moves in with her new boyfriend, 22-year-old Craig Lee, refusing to give Deirdre the address. Unfortunately Tracy's new life doesn't last long as the lease runs out on the flat and Tracy has to return and Deirdre agrees that she and Craig can stay, on the condition that they don't get physical. Not surprisingly, Tracy ignores this and a month later she and Craig move out after finding alternative accommodation. Over the next few years, Tracy is more independent but visits Deirdre or Ken occasionally. In 1994, she opposes Deirdre's marriage to Moroccan toyboy Samir Rachid but goes to the wedding to support her mother. In 1995, Tracy is hospitalised after taking bad ecstasy in a nightclub, which results in kidney failure. Facing life on dialysis, Tracy wants to die but Samir volunteers to be a donor when tests show he is a match. When Tracy comes round after the operation, she is stunned to learn that Samir is dead, found unconscious outside the hospital, and that Deirdre gave permission for his kidney to be used. Tracy thinks that Deirdre will never forgive her and moves to Blackpool to stay with Mark Ramsden, brother of her Weatherfield flatmate Lorraine.
In 1996, Tracy meets carpet fitter, Robert Preston (Julian Kay), and they decide to marry. They intend to tie the knot in London, where they are living but on telling Ken and Deirdre the news, Tracy decides to marry in Weatherfield instead, on the cheap; she books the Registry Office immediately and buys a £14 wedding dress from a charity shop. The wedding is a success and the Prestons return to London.
Tracy visits Weatherfield three times over the next few years: she comes to Deirdre and Jon Lindsay (Owen Aaronovitch)'s engagement party in 1997 and approves of airline pilot Jon (who is really a con man), and then two years later, seeks refuge in Weatherfield after falling out with Robert, who accused Tracy of having an affair with her friend Dan after he saw them kissing. Robert follows Tracy to Weatherfield and they reconcile when he accepts her story that she and Dan are just friends. Tracy returns to the Street in November 1999 for Ken's 60th birthday party.
Tracy returns on Christmas Day 2002, claiming that Robert has cheated on her but it emerges that she was sleeping with Robert's best friend so she and Robert divorce. Tracy has a brief fling with Dev Alahan (Jimmi Harkishin) but when she realises Dev thinks she is not "marriage material", she dumps him before cutting up his suits and stealing his credit card.
Tracy places a bet of 1p with Bev Unwin (Susie Blake) that she can sleep with married Roy Cropper (David Neilson). She spikes his drink and then claims they slept together when he wakes up in her bed the next morning. Roy is racked with guilt and his partner Hayley (Julie Hesmondhalgh) is heartbroken and when Tracy discovers she is pregnant, she threatens to have an abortion unless the Croppers buy the baby for £15,000. With Hayley being a transsexual, they agree, much to the disgust of Tracy's family. The Croppers worry Tracy will flee with their money and the child so Roy marries Tracy to gain legal rights to the baby. After delivering her daughter, whom the Croppers name Patience, Tracy wants her baby back and admits at Steve and Karen Phillips' (Suranne Jones) wedding that Steve is the biological father, not Roy and she lied about them having sex. Not surprisingly, this causes a feud between her and Karen but Roy is persuaded by Ken to return Tracy's baby, who she renames Amy.
Tracy taunts Karen when she doesn't get pregnant as quickly as Tracy did, calling her "Barren" Karen. Karen does get pregnant but miscarries soon after in December 2004. Karen struggles to cope and finds Tracy's sympathy harder to cope with than her taunting, leading her to steal and torch Tracy's car. Tracy is devastated, thinking Amy is dead because she was in the car, and angrily goes after Karen, threatening to kill her. Only Steve's insistence that Amy is safe with Roy and Hayley, make Tracy stop and he ends his marriage to Karen, reminding her that he is grieving too and could have lost 2 children. Tracy watches triumphantly as Karen leaves on Boxing Day 2004 and Steve tries to reconcile with Tracy but realises he wants Amy, not her. This leads to a bitter custody battle, with Tracy making it look like Steve tried to kidnap Amy and even accusing him of abusing her. While Tracy wins primary custody, the judge does not believe her accusations and allows Steve visits with his daughter.
Short-lived flings with Ciaran McCarthy (Keith Duffy) and Nathan Harding (Ray Fearon) follow, until Tracy starts to date builder Charlie Stubbs in late 2005. However, Charlie has a one-night stand with his ex-girlfriend, Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay), ultimately resulting in her pregnancy. Though Tracy forgives Charlie, he betrays her again with Maria Sutherland (Samia Ghadie). Tracy concocts a plan for revenge, spreading lies that Charlie is abusing her while suggesting to Charlie that she is cheating. When Charlie decides to throw Tracy out, she announces her intention to kill him, which he does not believe. On 12 January 2007 she seduces him, then hits him twice on the head with a metal ornament, taunting him as she does; she tries to convince the police that it was self-defence but fails and is charged with murder after Charlie dies. Tracy is released on bail and David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd) gives the police a statement, claiming to have witnessed the murder in return for sleeping with Tracy, which she does, desperate to avoid going to prison. He lies under oath but his evidence is dismissed by the court and, following Tracy's confession to Deirdre that the murder was planned, Deirdre is unconvincing as a witness. Consequently, Tracy is found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 15 years before parole. In financial ruin, Ken and Deirdre couldn't pay for an appeal, leaving Tracy to serve her sentence.
In May 2010, Tracy returns to attend her grandmother, Blanche Hunt's (Maggie Jones), funeral and argues with Steve's wife, Becky (Katherine Kelly), leading to a fight when she learns that Steve wants to change Amy's surname. Tracy returns to prison and vows to her cellmate that she will get out. When she learns that former neighbour, Gail McIntyre (Helen Worth), is on remand for murdering her husband, Joe (Reece Dinsdale), Tracy plans to persuade Gail to confess on condition that they get her transferred to an open prison but it fails. However, Tracy is overjoyed to learn that Blanche left her £14,000 in her will.
In December 2010, Tracy returns to the Street. She tells the Barlows that the expert who handled the forensic evidence for her trial falsified his qualifications so she has been released on bail, pending a retrial. Tracy is found not guilty at the retrial, due to the unreliability of forensic evidence. On learning that Steve and Becky paid Kylie Turner (Paula Lane) for custody of Max Turner (Harry McDermott), Tracy promptly removes Amy and threatens to call Social Services and tell them about Max if Steve and Becky oppose her. She later tells Steve that she and Amy are leaving Weatherfield so he offers her a job at the Rovers to stop her. Tracy accepts and Becky is furious when she finds out.
Steve, Tracy and Amy go to Blackpool on a family trip, behind Becky's back, and Amy wanders off while they argue. She is soon found but their car is towed away so they stay overnight in a B&B. Much to Tracy's horror, Steve insists she and Amy share the double bed and he sleeps in the single and they go home the next day. Becky finds out when she finds a picture of them in Blackpool and furious, demands the truth from Steve. A few days later, Tracy decides to quit her job at the bar.
While on a date with new boyfriend, Frank Foster (Andrew Lancel), Tracy speaks excessively about Steve, deliberately winding him up so he ends the relationship. Later, Tracy tells Steve and Becky that she and Amy are moving to London and won't be coming back. With Steve desperate to keep his daughter, he appeases Tracy as much as he can. Knowing that she will always try to manipulate situations to her advantage, he tricks her by letting her think she will be manageress at The Rovers and they will live there together as a family so she will sign a custody settlement for Amy. Steve's plan is successful but once the custody agreement is signed, he sacks her and introduces her to the new manageress, Stella Price (Michelle Collins).
In July 2011, Tracy invites Steve to dinner and makes a pass at him. He rejects her and leaves but following an argument with Becky, Steve returns to the Barlow house and spends the night with Tracy. The next day, Steve tells Tracy that he regrets spending the night with her and refuses to consider any relationship, Tracy feels that there is nothing left for her in Weatherfield and takes Amy to London. Tracy soon returns and tells Deirdre and Ken that she is pregnant with Steve's baby. Initially, Ken doesn't believe Tracy as she lied before but Tracy shows them a positive test result but plans to have an abortion but Deirdre feels that Steve has a right to know and tells him that Tracy is pregnant. Although stunned, he tells Tracy that he will look out for her financially but that's all. Tracy uses the situation to wind Becky up, knowing that she won't hit a pregnant woman. A few weeks later, Tracy begins treating Steve better and acts concerned for his welfare and stress levels so he softens towards her. She asks for her job back and he eventually agrees, despite worrying about the safety of their unborn child. To her surprise, Tracy collapses and is rushed to hospital, where a scan reveals that she is expecting twins. Tracy and Steve are stunned by the news and she tells Steve that she worries she won't be able to cope alone so he tells her that he will do his best to make a relationship work for the sake of their children, much to Tracy's secret delight.
The only problem left for Tracy is Becky. Despite being single, she stays on the Street and buys Lloyd's share of StreetCars. Becky organises a meeting with a local hotel manager to discuss the idea of StreetCars being their named taxi firm but Steve goes too, making Tracy worry as she is convinced that Becky wants Steve back. Worried about them being alone in a hotel room together, she follows them, despite experiencing stomach pains. While searching the hotel, Tracy collapses again and is rushed to hospital but miscarries and is comforted by Deirdre. She is released the next day and admits to Deirdre that she is worried that Steve will reconcile with Becky now she is no longer pregnant. Deirdre assures Tracy that Steve loves her but worries when Steve doesn't come home and, convinced he was with Becky, she goes to Becky's flat and they argue. Just as she is leaving, she faints and falls down the stairs so Becky calls an ambulance. Tracy is taken to hospital and while there, she tells Steve that Becky caused the miscarriage by pushing her down the stairs. Furious, Steve confronts Becky, who insists she is innocent but people believe Tracy. Believing they can try again, Steve proposes to Tracy and she accepts, much to Becky's horror. At the Street's nativity play, in which most of the kids have roles, Becky confronts Tracy and warns her that liars always get caught eventually and this plays on Tracy's mind, making her consider telling Steve the truth but doesn't. Becky, meanwhile, assisted by Kylie and Gail, gets a copy of Tracy's medical records that prove she miscarried naturally and plots her revenge. On her and Steve's wedding day, they are shocked to see Becky there and worry that she will cause a scene. Knowing this, Becky unnerves them by standing up to straighten her dress but doesn't interrupt the ceremony. At the reception, Becky is unsure about revealing the truth until Tracy makes a nasty comment about Becky changing her names so Becky humiliates her by giving Steve the medical records during his speech. He is shocked to realize that Becky was telling the truth and tells a heartbroken Tracy that he hates her, following Becky to the airport and begs her to take him back but Becky refuses and leaves with her new partner, Danny. It is later revealed that Becky and Danny are engaged when Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh) tells Tracy smugly.
Steve returns a broken and bitter man and plans to annul his and Tracy's marriage but she won't co-operate, thinking they can make their marriage work, until Steve tells her that he loved Becky and only married her out of pity. Unable to evict her from No. 13 as her name is also on the deeds, Steve converts it into two flats. This sparks a feud between him and Tracy, who vows to be the neighbour from hell. She annoys Steve by reducing his time with Amy, playing loud music and making lots of noise so Steve cuts the electricity. When Steve disappears, Tracy is worried but finds him drunk in the flat downstairs. Having been paid to leave after Steve sells the house to Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell), Tracy and Amy stay with Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) as guests, rent free. Norris, however, is unhappy about this and his behaviour sparks another feud which culminates in Tracy ruining Ernest's dancing shoes, thinking they belong to Norris and not going to a job Emily organised for her, Emily asks her to leave. Knowing how manipulative Tracy is, no one believes her claims of feeling ill until Deirdre, Ken and Amy find Tracy has collapsed, due to kidney failure, and is rushed to hospital. Scared she will die, Tracy apologises to Deirdre for causing so much trouble and thanks her for constantly forgiving her. She also makes amends with Steve, apologising for the trouble she has caused and asks him to stay while she sleeps. Steve reassures her that he will, giving Tracy new hope for their marriage but Steve has reconciled with former girlfriend, Michelle Connor (Kym Marsh). Tracy suggests to Steve that she and Amy move in with him but he claims that he is not ready for that but Amy sees Steve and Michelle kiss. Steve asks Amy not to tell anyone but, upset because she hoped her parents would get back together, she tells Deirdre, who tells Tracy. Tracy was devastated. Steve explains everything, telling her that she got the wrong end of the stick and that he loves Michelle. He also apologises for his dishonesty and asking Amy to lie but insists that's all he's sorry for. Tracy vows revenge and on learning that Ryan, Michelle's son, has a job in Prima Doner, she gets a job there too and seduces Ryan. Her charm works and they soon start dating, much to Steve and Michelle's fury. This leads to Michelle and Tracy coming to blows in the salon. Soon after, Tracy announces she is pregnant but is admits to best friend, Beth Tinker (Lisa George), that she is lying. Steve, however, is determined to prove that Tracy is lying and persuades Ryan to propose to Tracy in The Rovers. Horrified, as Steve knew she would be, she refuses and tells him that she isn't pregnant, claiming a simple miscalculation, but Steve, Ken and Deirdre know that Tracy is lying.
In late January 2013, Tracy receives divorce papers from Steve, stating her unreasonable behaviour as the reason for his petition. Deirdre convinces her to sign them and she returns them to Steve in the Rovers. This impresses Rob Donovan (Marc Baylis) and they start dating. Rob even persuades Carla and Michelle to give her a job. She thinks she will be working in the office and is horrified to learn that she will be working with Kirk in packing. Tracy insults fellow colleague Eva Price (Catherine Tyldesley), saying that Beth has a better life than her, leading to Eva physically attacking Tracy. Eva is then sacked by Rob. Tracy eventually begins a relationship with Rob, and they try and steal silk from Carla. Tracy and Rob make it look like Tracy is delivering silk to a buyer, but she is met by Rob's friend Lee (Darren Connolly) who punches Tracy to make it look like she has been mugged. She returns to Underworld in a real state, shocking Rob, Carla and Michelle. She is questioned by the police, who try and find the person who "mugged" Tracy. In May 2013, their scam is exposed and Carla attacks Rob for betraying her. Rob and Tracy then buy the bookies from Peter and turn it into a deal shop.
In August 2013, Tracy makes horrible remarks to Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) at Jake Windass' welcome home party, so Tina throws a glass of wine in Tracy's face. A few months after the encounter, Tina sparks a feud with Tracy after Dennis Tanner (Philip Lowrie) sells his wedding ring to her shop. When Tracy makes a snide remark about Tina's father, Joe's death, Tina throws a brick through the shop window, infuriating Tracy. She attempts to make Tina pay for repairs, but Rob eventually manages to calm the situation down. Unbeknownst to Tracy, Rob and Tina shared a passionate kiss in the backyard of The Rovers in December 2013, only witnessed by Carla. Rob begs his sister not to tell Tracy, as she will be extremely angry. On Christmas Day 2013, Kylie makes a pass at Rob, so she argues with Tracy, and when Tina insults Kylie, she punches her and the pair descend into fighting as Rob and Tracy look on.
In February 2014, Tracy is furious when Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) tells her that Rob kissed Tina in December the previous year, and that Carla knew about it. Tracy storms into The Rovers and attacks Tina, but is stopped by Rob. A public argument between Rob, Tracy, Tina and Carla erupts before Tracy runs home and throws Rob out. She then confides in Deirdre, who tries to persuade Tracy not to let a silly kiss ruin her relationship with Rob. Tracy eventually listens to Deirdre, but when the pair walk into the Bistro and find Rob having a meal with Tina, Carla and Peter, she snaps and shouts at the pair of them. Later that week, Tracy and Deirdre are drinking in The Rovers when Tina tells Tracy that she is lucky to have been in a relationship with Rob because he is a good man. When the pair arrive home, Tracy reveals to Deirdre that she still loves Rob but cannot bring herself to forgive him for kissing Tina. She eventually does, and they decide to get engaged, despite Deirdre's doubts. Rob and Tracy then get involved with Tony Stewart (Terence Maynard), who gives the couple illegal products to sell at their shop. Despite Rob wanting to stop the dodgy dealings, Tracy continues trading with Tony.
In May 2014, Rob and Tracy decide to hold an engagement party at The Rovers. During the party, Carla announces that she is pregnant with Peter's baby, just as Tina, who Peter has been having an affair with, walks in. Tracy insults Carla and her unborn child, which infuriates her. A distraught Tina runs home, followed by Rob. Tracy then leaves the party to do more dealings with Tony, while Peter admits to Carla in the backroom of The Rovers that he has been having an affair with Tina. Carla then runs out into the pub, exclaiming that she wants to "kill" Tina for sleeping with Peter behind her back. Elsewhere, Rob attacks Tina in her own home, leading to her running to the balcony, where the argument continues. He tries to persuade Tina not to tell Carla about her affair with Peter - unaware that Peter has told her himself - to save her feelings, and threatens her not to say anything to the police about their dealings with Tony. Tina refuses, so as Rob pushes her away, Tina loses her balance and falls from the balcony, plummeting onto the cobbles below. Rob believes that Tina is dead, so leaves her flat panic-stricken. He then hears Tina's groans, and realises that she is still alive. Tina threatens to tell the police that Rob pushed her from the balcony on purpose, in an attempt to kill her. This pushes Rob over the edge, leading to him picking up a metal pipe and beating her with it. Meanwhile, Carla heads over to Tina's flat to confront her about her affair with Peter, but finds her lying motionless below the balcony. She is witnessed by Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) and her boyfriend Kal Nazir (Jimi Mistry). Back at The Rovers, Tracy bumps into Rob and they both lie about where they've been, but when they hear sirens approaching the street, they watch as Tina is taken away in an ambulance. Tracy is happy that Tina has been hospitalised, as she hated her. When Tina dies, however, she is slightly more sympathetic. Tracy believes that Carla murdered Tina, but Rob tries to persuade her that Peter killed her. When Rob begins acting strangely, Tracy is concerned and he begins to push her out of his life.
Creation and development
The first actress to play Tracy was Christabel Finch in 1977, who first appeared in the role when she was 15 days old. According to Finch in 2007, "It was a case of being the right baby, in the right place, at the right time. The casting director came to the baby unit and picked me at random, then asked my parents if I could be in the show." In 2001 Finch reflected on her time in the soap, remembering that she used to share a dressing room with Anne Kirkbride who plays Tracy's mother Deirdre and one of her most prominent storyline memories is her involvement in Deirdre's affair with Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs): "Because I was a kid, everyone was really friendly to me. Julie Goodyear, who played Bet Gilroy, was really lovely and a very down-to-earth person. The biggest plot I was involved in was when Deirdre had an affair with Mike Baldwin. There was a lot of shouting going on and Ken was screaming at her, 'Get out of the house!' I just thought, 'what's going on, why are they shouting?'" Finch left the role when she was seven as her parents had opted to move to Guernsey. It was two years till the producers recast Tracy. On screen during that time, Tracy's parents Ken and Deirdre would say that Tracy was either in her room upstairs or at school. 8-year-old Holly Chamarette was given the role in 1985. At the time she reportedly commented, "I'm thrilled. I've been watching Coronation Street for ages." She was chosen from more than 60 children, but left the role when she was 11 in 1988, quitting the acting profession to become a doctor.
The third actress to play the part was Dawn Acton, appearing between 1988 and 1999. Acton was 11 when she took on the role and played the character through her teenage years, in what Acton has described as Tracy's tarty phase. Acton has said that Tracy's appearances became rare in the mid 1990s, until the casting director James Bain informed her that her contract was not being renewed as "the storylines involving Tracy had dried up". Acton adds, "I was 17 but I wasn't devastated. There were no tantrums, like the ones Tracy was famous for. James said I should try other things in the acting world. I did - but it didn't work out." Kate Ford was the fourth actress cast as Tracy in 2002. Dawn Acton reauditioned for the role but was unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for the soap said: "[Kate] is very excited to have got the part. The character has changed substantially in the past four years and really hits the ground running. Kate is thrilled." Discussing why Acton was not brought back, a spokesperson said, "We [looked] at other actresses because the character has changed so much—she's going to be explosive." Ford was a fan of the show as a child, and revealed that when she was 12, she wrote around ten letters to the casting director requesting a part.
Personality and characterisation
The character is portrayed as being extremely selfish and dangerous. She appears to be a tough, fiery and very bitchy character, with actress Kate Ford stating that "underneath she does care about her daughter which does show a soft side to her".
In January 2007, it was announced that Tracy would kill Charlie Stubbs as part of Kate Ford's leaving storyline which saw Tracy sentenced to life imprisonment for Charlie's murder.
Tracy spends weeks staging arguments, locking herself in the house, and even burning herself with an iron, in order to convince neighbour Claire Peacock that Charlie is abusing her. Ken and Deirdre are also concerned for Tracy's well-being, but she will not leave Charlie.
In January 2007, Ken and Deirdre ask Ken's son Peter (Chris Gascoyne) to stay with Tracy. Charlie's best friend Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas) sees Peter with his arm around Tracy but does not see his face and therefore does not recognise him. When Charlie badgers Tracy about her mystery man, she lets him believe the man is her secret lover to provoke him. Charlie attacks Peter, not knowing he is her stepbrother, and gives him a severe beating. Charlie is arrested for GBH, and Tracy's claims of abuse gain traction.
Charlie pleads guilty to the assault charge, and returns home, packing a bag for Tracy. Tracy tells him of her plan to murder him, and refuses to leave. She gives him a lap dance and begins to tell him they will be together forever. While he is distracted, she hits him over the head with a heavy metal sculpture. She taunts him and then hits him again, with a fatal blow. As a crowd begin to gather outside Tracy ransacks the house and puts a knife in Charlie's hand in order to appear that she had acted in self-defence.
It was announced in January 2010 that Ford would be returning to Coronation Street to reprise her role as Tracy. The actress attributed her return in part to the 2009 return of her friend Shobna Gulati as Sunita Alahan, and her desire to work with Gulati again. Ford believes that the time she has spent in prison has made Tracy's attitude worse, characterising her as "a bit cagey and a bit bitter". She stated that Tracy still loves Steve, but that his new wife Becky would beat her in a fight. Her first scenes were shown in May, when she returned for her grandmother Blanche's funeral. Ford found the scenes difficult to film, following the then recent death of Maggie Jones who played Blanche. She described Tracy as a more ruthless and extreme version of her grandmother.
Tracy returned to Weatherfield on a permanent basis later in 2010. The storyline depicting her initial return involved her being offered an early release in exchange for extracting a murder confession from Gail. She falsely accused Gail of her husband Joe's murder, by telling the police that she hit him with a rolling pin, after Gail told her that she hid a rolling pin on top of a bedroom wardrobe in order to stop poor cook Joe from baking potato pie. The police subsequently found the rolling pin hidden in the house, making Tracy's lie appear true. Tracy decided to testify in court, alleging that Gail was guilty of murdering Joe; Gail was found not guilty of murder and Tracy was furious that she might not be let out early, thus throwing a chair across the room at two police officers who were involved in Gail's case. Later that day, Tracy was attacked by Gail's inmates after they threw water at her and locked her in a cell and beat her up for being a grass. Tracy was hospitalized.
Executive producer Phil Collinson has revealed that Tracy's return will bring a few years' worth of storylines for her and many other characters in the soap, and that there is a possibility of Becky McDonald and Tracy appearing in a special two-hander episode. It was revealed on 4 October, that Tracy would return on Christmas Eve 2010, following her shock release from prison.
Tracy returns just as the tram crash memorial service is taking place. By the end of Christmas Eve she has managed to alienate most of the community, particularly Gail McIntyre and the recently widowed Claire Peacock. On 30 December 2010, after Tracy has complained to Deirdre, Ken and Peter about being deprived of sex, David Platt confronts her at home about her conduct towards his mother. After a bitter argument, Tracy seduces David. Shortly afterward, Tracy sleeps with fellow Time Lord Nick Tilsley (Ben Price); they are discovered by Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson). On New Year's Eve, Deirdre and Ken find Tracy unconscious with a head injury. Suspicion falls on Steve, who is standing nearby with blood on his hands.
When Tracy was blackmailed by David, Steven Perkins of Lowculture commented: "It's very incredibly wrong, and yet they're both so vile that it goes right around the loop and goes back to being a thoroughly great idea." Fellow Lowculture contributor Nick Linsdell praised Tracy as "one of the all-time great, completely horrific, self-absorbed soap monsters." He deemed her trial testament to the show's writers, as, even with a character who has been part of Coronation Street since birth: "they've come up with an exit storyline that outdoes all her previous exploits and dragged in half the cast to enjoy the fun." Perkins also praised the trial storyline, commenting: "It makes for quite a nice change to have sat through a soap trial, knowing for once that The Accused was (a) guilty as sin, (b) acting in a deliberate, calculated and premeditated fashion and (c) not trying to frame someone else." Alongside this unusual premise, he noted: "there are probably quite a few people who secretly want to see That Bitch Tracy Barlow finally get hers."
Radio Times included Tracy in their feature profiling 'bunny boilers' of soap opera. Discussing her they stated: "Qualifying as much as a soap villain as a bunny-boiler, grown-up Tracy in her final incarnation displayed enough deranged behaviour to have Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail bounding for the hills." Opining on her temper they added: "Tracy was capable of a rage so hot that, by comparison, the fires of hell were chilly." They also offered their opinion on what could have made her this way, blaming Ken and Deirdre's behaviour.
In February 2011, Ford was nominated for Best Comeback in the Soap Bubble Awards for her portrayal of Tracy. Tracy was nominated in the category of "Villain of the Year" at the 2011 Inside Soap Awards.
On 19 May 2011, Kate Ford revealed that the main thing driving her Coronation Street alter ego Tracy Barlow is the desire to have a family with daughter Amy and ex Steve McDonald. Speaking to TV Times, Ford said that Tracy is feeling as if her meddling is starting to pay off. "She thinks she can see a shift in Steve, and she knows that his and Becky's relationship is not on firm ground. She's excited because she thinks an opportunity might be presenting itself," Ford explained. "All Tracy wants is for her, Amy and Steve to be a family. She sees that as the key to her fulfilment and happiness. She does love Amy and she's really worried about her mystery illness. When it comes down to it, she will put Amy above anything."
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