Mike Baldwin (Coronation Street)
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|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Johnny Briggs|
|First appearance||Episode 1642
11 October 1976
|Last appearance||Episode 6265
7 April 2006
|Introduced by||Bill Podmore|
|Book appearances||Coronation Street:
The Complete Saga
|The Life and Loves of Elsie Tanner (1987)
Coronation Street: A Christmas Corrie (2012)
Michael Vernon "Mike" Baldwin was a fictional character from the British television soap opera Coronation Street, portrayed by Johnny Briggs. He appeared between 1976 and 2006. He appeared in a short special episode for Text Santa in 2012 where he appeared as a ghost sent from Hell to give Norris Cole a warning to change his ways.
Mike started his career as a market stall holder but within a few years was running his own factory. In 1976, he opened denim-maker Baldwin's Casuals in Weatherfield and moved there, ending his relationship with his common-law wife Anne Woodley. As an employer, Mike was uncompromising, quick to threaten his machinists with the sack if they slacked and taking a dim view of workers getting above themselves.
Creation and development
Making his first appearance in 1976 as a Cockney businessman with an eye for the ladies, Mike was the son of an occasional character, Frank "Frankie" Baldwin, a former docker and Cockney wide boy. Mike Baldwin became chiefly known for his ruthlessness in business and his string of ruined relationships. During his time on the show, Mike had 25 girlfriends and four wives.
Mike Baldwin's family history was retconned in 2004 when his nephew Danny Baldwin was introduced. Prior to this, Mike was always referred to as an only child.
Mike's relationship with florist Maggie Dunlop foundered when she became pregnant and she ended things with him when he refused to buy the florist's she worked in. She married Harry Redman shortly before the birth of her son, Mark. The Redmans moved away and Mike did not see Mark for years.
One major storyline involving Mike came in 1983 when he had an affair with Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride). Before her marriage to Ken Barlow (William Roache), Deirdre had dated Mike, but decided Ken suited her better. When their marriage became jaded, she turned to Mike. After she had confessed everything to Ken, Mike turned up on the doorstep in the hope of taking her away, but she decided to stay with Ken. This event began the long-running feud between Mike and Ken.
Mike went on to marry Susan Barlow (Wendy Jane Walker; Suzy Patterson), Ken's daughter, who was many years his junior. This upset Ken further. The marriage failed because Mike and Susan disagreed about their plans for the future. On discovering that Susan was pregnant, Mike wanted her to become a stay-at-home wife and mother but Susan decided to have an abortion, and moved to Newcastle after just a year of marriage.
Mike's on/off relationship with Alma Sedgewick (Amanda Barrie) lasted the longest. It seemed to be over when he abandoned Alma to marry wealthy widow Jackie Ingram (Shirin Taylor), who inherited a factory from her late husband, Peter (who had died of a heart attack during an argument with Mike). Jackie soon saw through him, and their marriage lasted just a week. Jackie threatened Mike with a shotgun if he did not get out of her sight.
A couple of years later, after Alma's relationship with now-divorced Ken failed because of her feelings for Mike, Mike and Alma finally married. Mike once again had his own business, the underwear factory Underworld. In 1998, Mike was seduced by Julia Stone, who blackmailed him for large sums of cash. When Alma discovered this, she left Mike; once they had divorced, she reverted to her maiden name of Halliwell. Unable to win Alma back, Mike settled with loud-mouthed machinist Linda Sykes (Jacqueline Pirie), who was interested only in his money. His long-lost son, Mark Redman (Paul Fox), turned up in Weatherfield, and Mike took him on at the factory as manager. However, on his wedding night, Mike found out that Mark and Linda had been having a steamy affair. At first, he blamed Mark.
Soon, Mike enraged a jealous Linda by choosing to spend time with Alma, who was dying of cervical cancer. At this point, he realised he had made a mistake, marrying Linda. Following Alma's death, he ended his marriage to Linda, who slept with Mike's new business associate in revenge. She also caused a stir at Fred Elliott's (John Savident) wedding to her mother, Eve Sykes (Melanie Kilburn), and the pressure built on Mike as Mark reappeared for the celebration. Mike was spotted arguing with Linda, who mysteriously disappeared. Mike was arrested on suspicion of murder but Linda was discovered living in Ireland with a new man.
In 2001, Ken revealed that his daughter, Susan, had a son, Adam (Sam Robertson), by Mike. Susan had been lying when she said she had terminated her pregnancy. As Mike began a fight for access to his son, Susan attempted to escape him again, but in her haste, she crashed her car on the motorway and was killed. Adam survived the crash and this led to a custody battle between Mike and Ken. Mike was awarded custody, but returned Adam to his boarding school in Scotland, where his friends were.
In 2004, Mike's nephew Danny (Bradley Walsh), Danny's wife, Frankie (Debra Stephenson), and their sons, Jamie (Rupert Hill) and Warren (Danny Young), came to live in Weatherfield, where Danny helped Mike run the factory. Many long-time viewers did not like the addition of Danny and Frankie to the cast, as their existence had only been made possible by continuity error; Mike had long been portrayed as an only child and, adding confusion, Mike's father was also named Frankie. In late October 2005, viewers discovered that Danny was actually Mike's son, a result of a fling between Mike and his sister-in-law, Viv (Patricia Brake).
Towards the end of 2005, Mike was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, aged 63. He soon split from his girlfriend Penny King (Susan Hanson) (the widow of a fellow factory owner), whom he had intended marrying. A further misunderstanding caused him to become estranged from Adam. Danny engineered sole inheritance of Mike's empire, egged on by his girlfriend Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson).
Mike's last appearance was in the episode of 7 April 2006. He had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia, but escaped when Jamie left his side for a moment. Making it back to his factory on Coronation Street, he was found by his old rival Ken. Shortly afterwards, he collapsed and died in Ken's arms, after suffering a massive heart attack. He was 64 years old. His passing – like that of Alma, in 2001 – was respected with the theme tune not being played over the credits, though a continuity announcement was made.
His last words were "You're finished Barlow, Deirdre loves me, she's mine." Over the last few months of his life, he had been confusing the past and present: Alma, his beloved ex-wife who had died in 2001, was often mentioned, as was Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) – he even broke into Bet's former home in 2006, to be confronted by the current resident, a surprised Les Battersby (Bruce Jones). He had also asked Rita Sullivan (Barbara Knox) how her husband Len (Peter Adamson) was; Len had died more than 20 years before.
Journalist Johann Hari, writing for The Independent heaped praise upon Mike's dementia storyline: "You can see some of these qualities in the storyline that has just stuttered to a close, the tale of the cracking and breaking of wide-boy Street stalwart Mike Baldwin into dementia and death. A soap can do Alzheimer's perfectly because it can draw on the collected memories of it audience in a way no other art form, except perhaps the epic novel, can. When Mike loses it and starts crying for Alma – the ex-wife who died years ago – we remember her too. When we see him breaking from his dementia-fever for a moment and asking his old flame Deirdre to dance – an almost unimaginably sad scene, as he beams in mid-dance and says: 'This is lovely', while she quietly weeps over his shoulder – the performances are layered with literally decades of shared experience."
Grace Dent, writing for The Guardian heaped similar praise on the storyline as she paid tribute to the legendary character: "So, farewell Mike Baldwin. Laid on the cobbles in front of the Kabin, this week Mike took his last breaths, clutched to the breast of his nemesis Ken Barlow, witnessed by Rita and Emily, both neighbours of 30 years. A peculiarly fitting end to the cockney king of knickers. He'll be sadly missed. No more Mike Baldwin in his Edinburgh Woollen Mill golfing jerseys and smart-casual slacks sneaking a fine single malt and a lamb hotpot. No more clashes with Fizz over shoddy stitching or scanning the obituaries for wealthy widows to woo. No more boozy afternoons at the 19th hole. Literally the end of an era. Although Mike's decline from Alzheimer's was bleak and harrowing, there were bittersweet moments to his final days. Imaginary meetings with Bet Lynch, Alma Halliwell and his mother. Chess with Chesney and a day out in town with old flame Deirdre. The time, at last, to watch Ready Steady Cook and wear pyjamas until tea-time." 
- "Johann Hari: Why 'Coronation Street' fills me with pride". The Independent (London). 3 April 2006.
- "Grace Dent's World of Lather". London: The Guardian. 8 April 2006. Retrieved 2010-09-27.