Alex Bain as Simon Barlow
|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Jake and Oscar Hartley (2003)
Alex Bain (2008–)
|First appearance||6 July 2003|
|Introduced by||Kieran Roberts (2003)
Kim Crowther (2008)
|Home||18a Victoria Street|
Simon John Barlow (also Richards) is a fictional character from the British soap opera Coronation Street, and has been played by Alex Bain since 2008. The character was originally played by by twins, Jake and Oscar Hartley, on his birth in 2003.
The character of Simon was re-introduced in late 2008 when his on-screen father Peter (Chris Gascoyne) also returned to the soap. Peter had been given custody of his son after his mother Lucy (Katy Carmichael) was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Both characters' returns saw them slowly develop a father-son relationship.
Simon was born in July 2003 to Lucy Richards (Katy Carmichael), who had already split up with Simon's father Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne). On learning that he had married his girlfriend, Shelley, when they had married first - she told Shelley that her marriage was illegal. In revenge, Lucy tricked Peter into thinking they had a future together, then, in front of pub regulars, announced she and Simon were emigrating to Australia. Peter resigned himself to the fact that he would never know his son, and left the Street soon after. Peter was given custody of Simon when Lucy died from ovarian cancer in 2008 and they moved in with Peter's father, Ken (William Roache) and his wife Deirdre (Anne Kirkbride). Peter, at first reluctant to take an active role in raising his son, changed his mind when he found out that Lucy had left her estate to him, on the condition that he raised Simon. Peter then bought the local bookmaker's shop and moved in there, with Simon. Unfortunately Peter has a drinking problem, which began evident when Peter came to Simon's Nativity play, drunk and had a row with teaching staff. Simon stayed with his grandparents until Peter agreed to stop drinking but in March 2009, however, Peter passed out with a lit cigarette in his hand, and the flat caught fire. Luke Strong (Craig Kelly) and Tony Gordon (Gray O'Brien) broke the door down, after Deirdre alerted them as Simon had telephoned her before he passed out due to smoke inhalation. Peter and Simon were rushed to hospital and made a full recovery. Peter vowed once more to give up alcohol.
Learning that he had a grandson, Peter was surprised to meet Lucy's father, George Wilson (Anthony Valentine). He had separated from Lucy's mother when she was very young and their relationship had suffered but George was determined not to make the same mistake with Simon and Leanne persuaded Peter to allow George and his partner, Eve, access. George also invested in the bar that Peter and Leanne intended to open but Ken's worst fears came true when Peter fell off the wagon again and George won interim custody of Simon. While on holiday in Blackpool in March 2010, Simon ran away after hearing George tell his wife that he intended to take Simon down to Kent to live and went home alone, scaring everyone in the process. While Peter and Leanne were proud that Simon had travelled all that way alone, they made sure he knew that that was very wrong. In August, Simon had a fight with Aadi Alahan (Zennon Ditchett) whilst playing a game and Aadi hit his head on a table, leading him to be rushed to hospital when he fell unconscious. Simon did not tell anyone and felt guilty over the incident, while Aadi's parents Dev (Jimmi Harkishin) and Sunita (Shobna Gulati) accused childminder Claire Peacock (Julia Haworth) of negligence. Simon revealed the truth about Aadi's injury after Peter questioned him about his erratic behaviour. Peter told Dev and Sunita the facts, thereby clearing Claire's name.
In December, Simon was in No.13 when the Joinery bar exploded and caused part of the viaduct to collapse and a tram came off the viaduct, crashing into the Corner Shop and The Kabin: the results of the destruction brought down a power line (plunging the street into darkness in the process), destroyed the post box and set No.13 on fire. Simon was upstairs and was eventually found by Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas), who brought him out alive. He was devastated to find his father, Peter, on his death-bed, but relieved when Peter pulled through; his severe injuries left Peter temporarily unable to walk. In February 2011, Simon was thrilled when Peter and Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) renewed their vows (their first wedding was the night of the tram crash, on Peter's death-bed) and the three go on honeymoon. In June, Simon met new Rovers manager Stella Price (Michelle Collins) and her boyfriend Karl Munro (John Michie). Stella is revealed to be Leanne's mother at Leanne's 30th birthday. Simon is impressed and Stella later gets him a Nintendo DS game for his 8th birthday. Just before Christmas, Peter begins a clandestine affair with Carla Connor (Alison King), and Simon is devastated when Leanne, learning the truth, leaves the Street. Simon gave Carla a frosty reception when she moved in, insisting that he wanted Leanne back and spent as much time as he could at his grandparents' house. Peter, however, does everything he can to make Simon spend more time with Carla, in the hope that Simon will warm to her. Eventually, however, Peter allowed Simon to go and live with his stepmother, Leanne, and Peter and Carla leave the country as Peter has taken an opportunity to sail a yacht from Southampton down to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
Simon lives with Leanne and her boyfriend Nick until Peter and Carla return, out of the blue, just as they are about to leave for Las Vegas, where Leanne and Nick plan to get married but Simon now refuses to leave as he wants to see his dad, so they stay. Carla is unhappy as they had only planned to stay in Coronation Street for a couple of days but Peter can't bring himself to leave Simon again so Carla returns to LA alone. Leanne and Nick reschedule their marriage for Christmas Day but after what Peter said on her hen night, Leanne visits Peter and suggests they get back together but Carla has returned and is having none of it! She runs back to the car and plans to marry Nick but before she can say "I do", Eva proclaims what Leanne had done that morning and Nick refuses to go through with the wedding. Simon is devastated and blames Carla. In November 2013, Simon fell victim of a happy slapping attack, orchestrated by Faye Windass (Ellie Leach) and Grace Piper (Ella-Grace Gregoire). He was beaten, forced into a dress and then had lipstick forced over his face. He is later delighted, however, when Peter and Carla hire Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) as Simon's nanny. He confides in Tina about the happy slapping attack, which later leads to Faye and Grace being questioned by the police. Unknown to Carla nor Simon, Peter begins an affair with Tina, which isn't revealed until May 2014.
Carla's brother, Rob Donovan (Marc Baylis), later confronts Tina and attacks her in her own home, leading to an argument on the balcony of her flat. After a scuffle, Rob pushes Tina away, causing her to lose her balance and plummet onto the cobbles below. Tina survives the fall, but Rob later beats her with a metal pipe, when she threatens to tell the police that he tried to kill her. Tina later dies in hospital, devastating Simon, who believes that Peter murdered her. Peter's relationship with Simon thaws a little and he promises him that he did not kill Tina. However, Simon is even more devastated, when Peter is arrested and charged, on suspicion of killing her. When Ken returns from Canada, he persuades Simon to go and visit Peter in prison. He agrees at first, but Rob, wanting Peter to plead guilty, asks Simon if he would like to go to Chester Zoo, with him, Tracy and Amy. Leanne eventually takes Simon to visit Peter, but he does not want anything to do with him, after discovering that he has been drinking. Simon is devastated when Peter ends up in hospital and eventually believes that he did not kill Tina. Maddie Heath (Amy Kelly) begins to babysit Simon and he also shares a bond with Deirdre's dog, Eccles. When Amy thinks that Eccles loves Simon more than she loves her, she tells Tracy that Eccles bit her. Tracy tells Deirdre that she must be put down, but Amy is later forced to tell truth, horrifying Simon. When Rob and Tracy go on a week's holiday in Swansea, Amy's father, Steve (Simon Gregson), asks Ken to babysit Amy for the night, the same night that Deirdre had agreed to babysit Simon. When they arrive together, they immediately clash and when Simon unfolds the sofa into a bed, Amy sits on him. Deirdre, unable to cope with Amy's behavior, sends her back to Steve's house, much to Simon's delight.
After the explosion at Victoria Court, Simon is unaware that his mother's partner, Kal Nazir, has died after saving Amy from the fire. He learns Kal has died from Kal's mother, Yasmeen and Simon is devastated. When Leanne asks Simon to do a simple job whilst sorting out Kal's belongings with Kal's children, Alya and Zeedan, Simon refuses. Simon later storms out of the flat and when he returns, Leanne is annoyed that Simon has eaten and she asks him to wash up. When Leanne tries to talk to Simon about how she knows he has lost his mum, Simon angrily points out she died and he throws a remote at Leanne. Leanne takes Simon to Ken and when asked about the bruise, Leanne lies that it was caused by a cupboard door. Later, Simon apologises to Leanne and Leanne apologises to Simon for what he's been through, but she warns him he can't do what he did again, no matter how angry he gets. The next day, Simon and Leanne go to France to visit Leanne's grandmother Gloria Price to forget about recent events. Simon is later given a shattering blow when he discovers that his grandmother Deirdre died on the day of her 60th birthday and homecoming party.
An article discussing young child actors published to The Guardian claimed that Bain's performance as a child actor in the role of Simon "seems to be the nation's favourite". It also described the character as "undeniably cute" and "wise beyond his years", with "great onscreen chemistry with his dad". The author opined that his father Peter's breakup with Leanne would have been "much more tedious" without Simon's performance. The same article pointed out that Simon "has learned to be resourceful...he has survived a fire, a kidnapping, and has gone missing in Blackpool – from where he managed to make his way back to Weatherfield." It also stated that when Simon "joined forces" with Joshua Peacock, they made "a formidable team."
When the character of Simon ran away whilst in Blackpool and later returned on his own to his father Peter's doorstep, he said "Ah've been on two trains and a bendy bus...Nightmare. Don't suppose there's any chocolate milk going?". An article published to The Independent opined that it was "a line that sums up the sweet-and-sour storylines that have kept Coronation Street going for nigh on half a century: 50 years of chocolate milk and nightmares".
- Pedlar, Phil (18 September 2008). "Coronation Street: Peter Barlow returns with son". What's on TV. (IPC Media). Retrieved 12 August 2011.
- Sweeney, Kathy (4 March 2011). "Child's play: the best young actors on the small screen". The Guardian. (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 12 August 2011.
- Viner, Brian (16 March 2010). "Last Night's Television - Women, BBC4; Coronation Street, ITV1". The Independent. (Independent Print Limited). Retrieved 12 August 2011.
- Kilkelly, Daniel (15 May 2011). "British Soap Awards 2011: The Winners". Digital Spy. (Hachette Filipacchi UK). Retrieved 12 August 2011.