Susan Barlow

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Susan Barlow
Coronation Street character
Portrayed by Katie Heannau (1965–1970)
Wendy Jane Walker (1970–1974, 1985–1987)
Suzy Patterson (1979–1981)
Joanna Foster (2001)
Duration 1965–1971, 1973–1974, 1979–1981, 1985–1987, 2001
First appearance Episode 450
5 April 1965
Last appearance Episode 4983
11 February 2001
Introduced by H.V. Kershaw (1965)
Eric Prytherch (1973, 1974)
Bill Podmore (1979, 1981)
John G. Temple (1985)
Jane MacNaught (2001)
Book appearances Coronation Street:
The Complete Saga
Classification Former; regular
Profile
Other names Susan Baldwin (Married name)

Susan Ida Barlow (also Baldwin) is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Coronation Street. She made her debut screen appearance on 5 April 1965. Susan has been portrayed by four actresses since her introduction. Katie Heannau was the first actress to the character. Wendy Jane Walker took over the role for two years from 1970. When the character returned in 1979, Suzy Patterson was recast in the role. She remained with the show until 1981, in 1985 Walker reprised the role until 1987. In 2001, Susan returned with Joanna Foster in the role for a month until the character was killed off.

Storylines[edit]

Susan was the daughter of Ken and Valerie Barlow and twin sister of Peter Barlow. She was born on 5 April 1965 after Len Fairclough drove Val to the hospital in his van. Most of Susan's early storylines were alongside her twin brother, Peter.

Valerie's life changed completely as her time was spent looking after the twins and Ken. The Barlows had many friends and could easily find babysitters, allowing Valerie to attend evening classes in Sociology. In November 1965, Ken was looking after the twins but when he visited the Rovers Return briefly, a piece of coal fell from the fire and filled the house with smoke. Val came home before Ken put the fire out but was outraged that he had left the babies alone while he went to buy cigarettes. Val told Ken she would leave him if he ever smoked again.

In 1966, Ken had a fling with reporter, Jackie Marsh. Val left him briefly and took the twins to Glasgow but returned when he convinced her that he would be a more devoted husband and father from then on.

In 1968, the Mission of Glad Tidings and Elliston's Raincoat Factory across the Street were torn down to make way for a block of maisonettes. As they were being demolished, Ken and Val realised the twins were missing. They were found in the factory just before the wrecking ball hit.

In late 1969, Susan's maternal grandmother, Edith, stayed with the Barlows. When Edith took the twins to the fair, she lost them but they were found by an elderly woman who had taken them in and not contacted the family.

In early 1971, Ken was offered a teaching position in Jamaica and Val agreed to emigrate with the twins. However, Val died when she was electrocuted by a faulty hairdryer. In late 1971, Peter and Susan were sent to live in Scotland with their maternal grandparents after Ken struggled to make suitable childcare arrangements and continue to work as a teacher.

Susan returned to Coronation Street, where she lived with her father. She started helping out in the Kabin with Rita Fairclough and Mavis Riley. She finished school and started working at the Rovers. Deirdre Langton (Anne Kirkbride) later moved in with her and Ken after they married in 1981. In late 1981, Susan went back to Scotland, and decided to attend university.

In 1985, Susan returned again now working as a market researcher. She began an affair with her father's sworn enemy Mike Baldwin and they got engaged but Ken refused to attend as he hated Mike and could not come to terms with the fact he was marrying his little girl. But after a lot of thinking and talking to Susan, Peter and Deirdre he walked Susan down the aisle on 6 May 1986. The marriage failed, because Susan's career ambitions did not fit in with Mike's plans for the future. When she got pregnant, Mike wanted her to abandon her business; Susan decided to have an abortion. Mike calling her a killer and a murdering bitch and she moved to Newcastle after just a year of marriage in November 1987.

By December 2000, Peter was living with Ken and Deirdre. While arguing with Ken, Peter let slip that Susan had a son. Ken insisted Peter explain, which he did, telling Ken that Susan had lied about the abortion and gave birth to her son, Adam Barlow in May 1988. Susan had only told Peter this. Ken went to Scotland the following month to visit Susan and she made him swear not to tell Mike. Ken told Deirdre and she told her ex-lover Dev Alahan. He told Mike who called Susan and demanded access. Susan, who was visiting her father and brother, refused. Mike threatened her with legal action. Susan tried to flee again with Adam, but on 11 February 2001, while driving on the M7, she lost control of her car and ran off the motorway and struck a tree. Susan was killed instantly but Adam suffered only minor injuries. The body was taken back to Weatherfield, and was buried next to her mother, Valerie.

Casting[edit]

Katie Heannau played Susan as a baby and young child from 1965 until 1970 when Heannau and her family moved away from the Manchester area.[1] Child actress Wendy Jane Walker took over the role later in 1970. Although Susan was written out in 1971, Walker made recurring appearances in 1973 and 1974. Suzy Patterson played Susan from 1979 to 1981 but only made a small number of appearances. Walker took back the role in 1985 and Susan became a main character again before departing in 1987. After a thirteen-year absence, Susan returned for a final time in early 2001, now played by Joanna Foster, which saw the character get killed off after introducing her secret son Adam.

Development[edit]

In January 2001, the character returned to Coronation Street with actress Joanna Foster taking over the role.[2] Susan comes back to Weatherfield to introduce her son, Adam (Iain de Caestecker) to his grandfather, Ken (William Roache).[3] Rick Fulton of the Daily Record said Ken is "amazed, but also devastated" that Susan kept his grandson a secret for so long.[3] Adam's father is Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs), who Susan married in 1986.[3] Susan told Mike she had an abortion and he threw her out the following year. Fulton explained "But that will be exposed as a lie. It seems Susan, who had grown to hate her husband, didn't think Mike would be a fit father for her child. She decided she wanted to bring up the baby on her own without any of his influence."[3] The news rocks Ken and Mike, when they learn they are linked by Adam.[3] On 22 January 2001, Brian Roberts of the Daily Mirror reported Susan would be killed off in a car accident.[2] Her death would then kick-start a custody battle for her son, Adam, between her father and her ex-husband.[2] Roberts said Susan is "adamant" that she does not want Mike having anything to do with Adam and she decides to take him to Ireland. However, while they are on their way Susan crashes the car and dies.[2]

Reception[edit]

Johnny Briggs disapproved of the storyline that saw his character (Mike Baldwin) marry Susan as he thought it would tie his character down.[4] He also did not get on with Walker and was pleased when the relationship broke up.[4] The Daily Mirror's Charlie Catchpole described Susan as the "hapless" wife and daughter of Mike and Ken.[5] He commented on her 2001 recast saying "I don't know why either of them believed a word she said, since Susan had been blonde and blue-eyed, and this impostor had black hair and brown eyes."[5] Catchpole added that Susan's off screen death was one of the soap world's cruelest exits.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "TV Talk: It’s out! The Street’s twin secret". TVTimes. 9 May 1970. 
  2. ^ a b c d Roberts, Brian (22 January 2001). "Custody Street; Ken and Mike fight for orphan Adam". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Fulton, Rick (1 January 2001). "I can't believe millions will be watching my Street debut". Daily Record. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Donnelly, Claire (22 March 2006). "Mike's top 20 moments". Daily Record. (Trinity Mirror). Archived from the original on 3 May 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Catchpole, Charlie (13 February 2001). "Susan is no dead ringer". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 3 March 2012.