Claudia Colby is the owner of Weatherfield hair salon Perm Suspect, co-owner of Audrey's and partner of Ken Barlow.

An old friend of Audrey Roberts, Claudia made her first appearance in December 2009 flanked by an escort, Lewis Archer. Throughout the next year, Claudia continuously mocked Audrey as she began to grow close to Lewis after hiring him for herself - explaining that their relationship was nothing more than professional in his mind. However, by 2011 Claudia had embarked on a doomed relationship of her own with cross-dressing widower Marc Selby - which ended abruptly when she discovered the truth about his transvestism and the fact that Audrey had helped keep it a secret from her.

Despite apparently ending their friendship due to Audrey's deceit, Claudia kept in contact with her and the pair attended many events together. In July 2018, Claudia returned to Coronation Street and wasted no time in bragging about her new business expansion, poaching Audrey's best stylist Maria Connor and becoming involved in a relationship with Ken.


Unknown-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.

In December 2009, Claudia attended a Weatherfield Council Christmas lunch, escorted by Lewis Archer - whom 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.

Claudia introduces Lewis Archer to Audrey Roberts.

Audrey, who became enticed by Claudia's explanation, began to latch onto the idea of using a male escort herself and eventually hired Lewis' 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' services several times, and had fallen for him - but Claudia assured her that Lewis' charms were nothing more than contractual. Despite this, Audrey and Lewis embarked on a relationship together.

Claudia's doubts about Lewis' reliability as a permanent suitor for her friend were proved to be correct as, in July of the same year, when Audrey and Lewis began to plan their retirement to run a hotel in the Greek islands, he vanished on the day of their departure leaving Audrey devastated. As a result of Lewis' departure the farewell party, thrown for the couple by Audrey's daughter Gail, was thrown into chaos when CCTV footage of Lewis stealing from the till of Barlow's Bookies was revealed to everyone by Peter Barlow. The footage also included Lewis' attempt to divert the assistant manager Deirdre Barlow's attention by kissing her.

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.

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.

2011-2018: Continued rivalry with Audrey

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 Stylists' 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.

2018-: Business expansion

In July 2018, Claudia returned to pay Audrey a visit and wasted no time in bragging about the planned expansion of her business. With Audrey uninterested, already worrying about how her own salon would cope with the departure of her best stylist Maria Connor, 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 - Carla accepted with the conditions that she would need to see some figures and that she would be a sleeping partner in the business. 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 - much to both Claudia and Maria's delight.

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. Claudia also agreed to keep quiet about Sinead Tinker's cervical cancer diagnosis, after being confided in by Sinead's father-in-law Ken Barlow (whom she had become close to after giving him inspiration for his short stories in the form of scandalous secrets from Audrey's past). However, this also didn't stay secret for long.

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. When more and more of Audrey's clients decided to cancel their appointments - in favour of Claudia, Audrey was horrified to discover that her close friend Ken had also jumped ship and was receiving treatment from Claudia at his home. Unbeknownst to Audrey, Ken and Claudia had began a relationship - although they kept it to themselves as it was still in the early stages.

By November, Maria began to have doubts about joining Claudia's business - as she had started to realise 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. 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' "mystery woman" and had assisted him in stealing her money - although in reality the thief was Audrey's grandson Nick Tilsley, who needed the money in order to pay off his wife Elsa in their divorce settlement, and both Lewis and Claudia were innocent. 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.


Audrey Roberts

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"If you've owt to say, spit it out before it flamin' well chokes yer"
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Ken Barlow

While Ken and Claudia had known of each other during her previous visits to the street, their paths rarely crossed - apart from the occasion 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 single having been widowed following Deirdre's death in July 2015. 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 confident of his when he was struggling to cope with his daughter-in-law Sinead's cancer secret.

Claudia and Ken began a relationship in late 2018.

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.

Lewis Archer

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"If you've owt to say, spit it out before it flamin' well chokes yer"
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Background information

  • Actress Rula Lenska joined the cast of Coronation Street in October 2009, and Claudia's scenes were first aired in December of that year. This was a one-off appearance, and the character returned in April 2010 to continue in the role.
  • It was rumoured in December 2010 that Claudia would take over from Liz McDonald as the landlady of the Rovers when Beverley Callard left the show. However, producer Phil Collinson later insisted that the rumours were false.
  • In May 2011, it was announced that Lenska was to leave the serial in order to appear in theatre. Due to being a popular character, the decision was made to "leave the door open" for a possible return in the future.
  • On 20th March 2018, it was announced that Lenska would be returning to the programme after a seven year absence, which would involve a storyline with Audrey. The announcement was made alongside the return of Nigel Havers as Lewis Archer, however it was revealed that the pair would be involved in two different storylines. The character returned in July 2018.

First and last lines

"Aud! Hi Aud!" (First line)


"Because it's over. And there's something called 'bowing out gracefully'. Look I appreciate that you care about Ken, and...that your heart is... nearly in the right place, but there are two lessons I've learnt in my life: number one - never regret anything, number two - don't buy cheap towels. It's a false economy." (Final line, to Tracy McDonald)


Employment history

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

See also

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