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Claudia Colby was a local salon owner who enjoyed a friendly rivalry with Audrey Roberts in the 2010s.

Claudia arrived on the scene as Audrey's friend in the trade, the owner of Perm Suspect. In 2011, she embarked on a relationship with widower Marc Selby. When she learned that Marc was a secret cross-dresser and that Audrey had known about the habit, Claudia broke off the relationship in disgust and also ended her truce with Audrey.

In 2018, Claudia poached Audrey's best stylist Maria Connor as her partner in a business expansion. The pair eventually bought Audrey's salon together when financial pressures forced Audrey to sell up. The partnership lasted until 2020, when Claudia and Maria sold to developer Ray Crosby.

Meanwhile, Claudia had become involved with Ken Barlow and in 2020 they decided to sell their homes and live together at Stillwaters retirement complex. After a few weeks, a homesick Ken returned to Coronation Street and the pair mutually decided to end their relationship.

Biography

2009: 2011: Keeping up appearances

At some point Claudia began working as a hairdresser and eventually opened her own salon, Perm Suspect. Due to being in the same industry, Claudia befriended Audrey Roberts, however they became business rivals in their professional lives.

2009: Claudia introduces Lewis Archer to Audrey Roberts

In December 2009, Claudia attended a Weatherfield Council Christmas lunch, escorted by Lewis Archer, who she often hired for such functions. Audrey, who also attended the lunch, was shocked to find Claudia using a male escort, but Claudia defended herself by saying that Lewis was strictly for appearances sake, with no sex involved.

Audrey, who became enticed by Claudia's explanation, began to latch onto the idea of using a male escort herself and eventually hired Lewis's services on a couple of occasions. In April 2010, Claudia and Audrey attended a dinner dance together where they saw Lewis escorting Rita Sullivan. Audrey admitted to Claudia that she had used Lewis's services several times, and had fallen for him, but Claudia assured her that Lewis's charms were nothing more than contractual. Despite this, Audrey and Lewis embarked on a relationship together.

At the tail end of 2010, Claudia donated a prize of luxury treatment at her salon to a special New Year's Eve charity raffle held by the Rovers. The prize was won by a disgruntled Audrey, who had already had her nose put out of joint after her donation of a pedicure and manicure at her own salon was somewhat dwarfed by Claudia's generosity.

2011: Claudia is horrified to discover Marc Selby's secret, and accuses Audrey of deception

At the start of 2011, Claudia embarked on a relationship with Marc Selby, a widower and local wine-dealer whose late wife Tricia had been a regular customer at Perm Suspect. However, their relationship turned sour when he began cancelling their dates, giving the excuse of "business meetings". Claudia, worried that Marc was having an affair, persuaded Audrey to spy on him on the evening of yet another cancelled date. They were both stunned to discover what they thought was a woman leaving Marc's house. After confronting him with the discovery, Marc told Claudia that the "woman" was his sister.

The truth was uncovered when Audrey made a startling discovery. A shaken Marc phoned her to pick him up from Weatherfield Police Station; he had been mugged because he was dressed as a woman. Marc admitted he was a transvestite but swore Audrey to secrecy. Although she obliged, she was desperate for Marc to come to terms with who he was and assured him that Claudia would be nothing but understanding. Claudia eventually discovered the truth too and was appalled at both Audrey's "lack of friendship" and Marc's transvestism, calling him a "freak". She walked out on the couple, telling Audrey that their friendship was over.

2011 to present: Business expansion

Claudia and Audrey eventually reconciled sometime after and the pair continued their business rivalry, with Audrey feeling betrayed when Rita went to Claudia's salon instead of hers in 2012. However, Audrey was pleased when Rita complained about the loud music being played at Perm Suspect and commented that the only reason she did so was because Audrey had been fully booked.

In July 2015, Audrey spent her 75th birthday having a liquid lunch with Claudia and getting drunk, making her unable to attend her birthday party at Nick's Bistro. In September 2016, Claudia won the Greater Manchester Stylist Awards, although a disappointed Audrey put it down to her giving the judge a number of free blow-dries at her salon. Claudia and Audrey also attended a course on "The future of hairdressing in the digital age" in February 2018.

In July 2018, Claudia returned to pay Audrey a visit and wasted no time in bragging about the planned expansion of her business. Audrey was uninterested, already worrying about how her own salon would cope with the departure of her best stylist Maria Connor, and so Claudia began explaining her plans more thoroughly to Maria herself. Revealing that she planned to open two more shops to accompany the one she already owned, Claudia suggested that Maria could run one of the shops. Initially hesitant, Maria eventually agreed.

Needing money, Maria asked Carla Connor to become an investor in the business, and Carla agreed to become a sleeping partner. Claudia and Carla rubbed each other up the wrong way, with Claudia having no time for Carla's business etiquette and eventually Carla decided to end her investment after regaining the control of Underworld. Having come into some money, and discovering that Maria needed urgent funds to pay Claudia, Rita agreed to become an investor.

In August, Claudia was shocked to discover Lewis Archer's return, and even more surprised that Audrey was once again heading into a relationship with him. Despite still having doubts about the pair's longevity, Claudia agreed to keep quiet about their secret love affair, although the truth later came out.

2018: Claudia poaches yet another of Audrey's clients

In September, Claudia revealed that one of her new shops would be situated in Victoria Street, leaving Audrey to fear for the fate of her own business. More and more of Audrey's clients began to cancel their appointments in favour of Claudia, including Ken Barlow. Claudia had become close to Ken after giving him inspiration for his short stories in the form of scandalous secrets from Audrey's past, and late in the year they began a relationship.

By November, Maria began to have doubts about joining Claudia's business, having realised that Claudia was only taking her on as she knew that it would upset Audrey. When the North West Regional Stylist Awards annual ceremony came about, Claudia put Audrey forward for an award which she knew would offend her, as everyone in the business knew that the award was reserved for people who were "past it". On the night of the ceremony, Audrey collected her award - drunk on wine - and made a heartfelt speech about Maria Connor, before insulting Claudia and throwing a bouquet of flowers at her.

Later, Maria revealed her concerns about joining Claudia's business to Audrey, who offered her a share in the salon. When Maria called Claudia to the street and revealed that she was dropping out of their deal, an irritated Claudia explained that she would not see a return of her deposit money as it had all been spent in good faith.

In January 2019, Ken confirmed his relationship with Claudia when asked by his son Peter and grandson Simon. In the same month, Lewis passed away from a heart attack and Audrey was led to believe that he had stolen £80,000 of her money, left to her by Archie Shuttleworth upon his death. Audrey refused to grieve for Lewis, and take any part in his funeral, therefore it was left to his clients to pay for the event, and Claudia was placed in charge of the funeral's organisation.

Claudia is brought to the station and questioned by the police

Audrey began to suspect that Claudia was Lewis's "mystery woman" and had assisted him in stealing her money, although in reality the thief was Audrey's grandson Nick Tilsley. However, despite Claudia's attempts to convince Audrey of her innocence, she reported her to the police, and Claudia was later released without charge after having been taken in for questioning down at the station.

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Personality

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Relationships

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Ken Barlow

Claudia and Ken began a relationship in late 2018.

While Ken and Claudia had known of each other during her previous visits to the street, their paths rarely crossed, with one occasion being in July 2010 when she took pleasure in witnessing Ken's wife Deirdre being exposed on video as having cheated on him by kissing conman Lewis Archer. When she returned to the street however, she began to pay more interest in Ken due to the fact that he was now a widower. Claudia began giving Ken inspiration for his short stories by telling him tales of scandalous secrets from Audrey's past, and she soon became a confidant of his when he was struggling to cope with his daughter-in-law Sinead's cancer secret.

In January 2019, Ken firmly took Claudia's side when she was wrongly accused of having taken Audrey's money, and later admitted to his son, Peter, that the pair were in a relationship. Despite the pair now being a couple their relationship was only in the early stages and therefore Ken didn't invite Claudia to move into 1 Coronation Street when she began looking for a new place to live, however he was left thrilled when her offer on a flat in Victoria Street was accepted.

Background information

Actress Rula Lenska joined the cast of Coronation Street in October 2009 and Claudia Colby's scenes, as part of a one-off appearance, aired two months later in Episode 7233 broadcast on 18th December. The character returned in April 2010 to continue in the role, starting with Episode 7309 on the 4th and with further recurring appearances over the next 13 months.

In May 2011, it was announced that Lenska was to leave the serial in order to appear in theatre. Due to the popularity of the character, the decision was made to "leave the door open" for a possible return in the future. Her last scenes for the foreseeable future aired in Episode 7607 on the 23rd May.

On 20th March 2018, it was announced that Lenska would be returning to the programme after a seven year absence, for a storyline which would involve Audrey. The announcement was made alongside the return of Nigel Havers as Lewis Archer, however it was clarified that the pair would be involved in two different storylines. Claudia returned in July, reappearing in Episode 9516 broadcast on the 25th.

Rula Lenska departed the role again in Episode 10053 broadcast on 24th April 2020. Lenska returned to the role seventeen months later on 16th September 2021.

First and last lines

"Aud! Hi Aud!" (First line)

Appendices

List of addresses

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Employment history

Role Institution Duration
Owner Perm Suspect Unknown to present
Co-owner Audrey's January 2019 to December 2020

See also

Current characters
Ken Barlow | Rita Tanner | Peter Barlow | Gail Rodwell | Tracy McDonald | Audrey Roberts | Nick Tilsley | Kevin Webster | Debbie Webster | Jenny Connor | Sally Metcalfe | Sarah Barlow | Steve McDonald | David Platt | Daniel Osbourne | Roy Cropper | Leanne Battersby | Toyah Battersby | Tyrone Dobbs | Dev Alahan | Eileen Grimshaw | Maria Connor | Kirk Sutherland | Adam Barlow | Todd Grimshaw | Fiz Stape | Simon Barlow | Sean Tully | Chesney Brown | Amy Barlow | Aadi Alahan | Asha Alahan | Ryan Connor | Carla Barlow | Natasha Blakeman | Gary Windass | Mary Taylor | Liam Connor | Claudia Colby | Brian Packham | Izzy Armstrong | Max Turner | Jack Webster | Hope Stape | Faye Windass | Beth Sutherland | Craig Tinker | Joseph Brown | Ruby Dobbs | Tim Metcalfe | Jake Windass | Lily Platt | Alya Nazir | Yasmeen Metcalfe | Zeedan Nazir | Gemma Winter | Billy Mayhew | Cathy Matthews | Alex Warner | Johnny Connor | Harry Platt | Shona Platt | Summer Spellman | Abi Franklin | Imran Habeeb | Emma Brooker | Paul Foreman | Evelyn Plummer | Bertie Osbourne | James Bailey | Ed Bailey | Michael Bailey | Aggie Bailey | Kelly Neelan | Bernie Winter | Aled Winter-Brown | Bryn Winter-Brown | Carys Winter-Brown | Llio Winter-Brown | Nina Lucas | Grace Vickers | George Shuttleworth | Sam Blakeman | Daisy Midgeley
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