Deirdre grew up in Weatherfield, raised by her mother Blanche. She arrived in Coronation Street in 1973 and got a job as secretary with builders Fairclough and Langton. Marriage to her boss Ray Langton followed weeks after Deirdre broke off her engagement to Billy Walker in 1975. The marriage ended three years later when Ray had an affair with Janice Stubbs, and Deirdre decided that the trust was gone from their relationship. She continued to raise their daughter Tracy by herself while Ray moved to Holland.
In 1981, Deirdre married Ken Barlow, who was sixteen years older than her. Despite loving Ken, Deirdre was drawn to the more exciting Mike Baldwin, with whom she had an affair in 1983. Mike wanted Deirdre to leave Ken but they worked through their problems and came out of the ordeal stronger. The marriage lasted seven more years, ending when Ken had an affair with his secretary Wendy Crozier and Deirdre threw him out.
In the 1990s, Deirdre found happiness with Moroccan toyboy Samir Rachid. She married him in 1994 but Samir was beaten up a year later and died from his injuries. Bad luck continued to follow Deirdre; in 1997 she became involved with con man Jon Lindsay, whose machinations landed her in Redford Prison on fraud charges. Her conviction was overturned when another victim of Jon's came forward. With Ken also reeling from a string of bad relationships, Ken and Deirdre reconciled and in 2005 they re-married. In 2014, Deirdre went to stay with her friend Bev Unwin, taking a break from Weatherfield when the overbearing family drama became too much for her. She passed away on her 60th birthday on 8th July 2015.
Deirdre worked at various places in Weatherfield including the Corner Shop the Rosamund Street Medical Centre and was councillor of the ward between 1987 and 1991. She could be identified by her large glasses and husky voice brought on by many years of chain smoking.
1955-1973: Early years
Deirdre Ann Hunt was born on 8th July 1955, the only child of corset-maker Blanche Hunt and bank manager Donald Hunt and raised at 20 Victoria Street while attending Bessie Street School. Donald was run over outside the house when she was seven years old and Deirdre witnessed the tragedy. On a number of occasions Deirdre mentioned a former boyfriend known as Seb H.
By November 1972 Deirdre was working as a secretary and came across Alan Howard and Jimmy Frazer in The Vine restaurant while drinking with her friend Annie. Alan's wife Elsie arrived and was annoyed to find Alan talking to Deirdre who she viewed as a "dolly bird". Deirdre crossed paths with Alan again in March 1973 when she was invited to a party at his home of 11 Coronation Street by friend Julie Quinn who was seeing party host Billy Walker. Deirdre got drunk and clung to Alan, who was bored by her conversation but unable to shake her off even after she rung for another friend, Carol Wyatt, to join the party. Unbeknownst to Alan, Deirdre crashed out at No.11 in Lucille Hewitt's bedroom. In doing so she created another row for the Howards when a returning Elsie found Deirdre on the stairs in her underclothes the next day and immediately jumped to conclusions.
Soon Deirdre began dating Ray Langton and thanks to his wanting her around his job, working at the builders' yard owned by him, Len Fairclough, and Jerry Booth. In spite of the superficial reasons for her hiring, Deirdre was an asset to the yard, improving efficiency and organisation at the yard with her feminine touch. Len was still concerned about keeping costs down and threatened to sack Deirdre only weeks in to her employment, but was forced to back down when Ray and Jerry threatened to walk out too. Deirdre helped keep the business afloat with Jerry when Len and Ray temporarily went elsewhere.
1974-1975: Engagement to Billy Walker
Deirdre felt Ray was taking her for granted, and when Billy Walker returned to Weatherfield in 1974, Deirdre accepted his offer of a date. Ray was distracted by other problems and Deirdre grew closer and closer to Billy. Billy's mother Annie Walker saw Deirdre as a harlot and was very upset over the relationship until she was impressed by Deirdre seeing off an aggressive suitor during a holiday to Spain.
Billy and Deirdre got engaged after Deirdre assured Billy that she did not care that he had little money. However, as the May date approached, she began to have doubts. When asked, Billy admitted he also had doubts, and he ended the relationship, leaving Weatherfield. Deirdre responded by going out and being picked up by oil-rigger Maurice Gordon. They spent the night in his hotel room, and Blanche slapped her in the face, branding her a slut. A few weeks later, Maurice visited, wanting more time with her and not wanting to hear her say no. Ray Langton saw him off, leaving Deirdre back where she'd started.
1975-1978: Marriage to Ray Langton
Deirdre's relationship with Ray had ended badly, with Ray treating her so poorly at work that Blanche attacked him in the Rovers. Both were confused and reluctant about their lingering feelings for each other. Finally, they decided to take the chance and get married at the local register office on 7th July 1975. The wedding was so last minute that Deirdre was wed in the suit she wore to work (after Blanche had sponged out a curry sauce stain) and the only attendees were witnesses Len and Jerry, Blanche and Rita Littlewood. This was followed by a hastily arranged reception at the Rovers and a honeymoon in London.
Ray and Deirdre were generally happy for several years, trading quips and bruising egos but loving each other. They moved into Blanche's home, with Ray splitting it into two flats, and Blanche eventually moving away. Their happiness was compounded when Deirdre, after a false alarm, fell pregnant. Tracy Lynette Langton was born in January 1977.
The first major trauma to hit their relationship occurred in late 1977, when, on her way home from her keep-fit class, she was cornered in the viaduct by a rapist. She managed to break free, but was very traumatised. She would not let Ray go near her, and he told her she was shutting him out. Deirdre nearly jumped off a bridge, but when a passing driver asked for directions, she regained her senses and returned home to Ray.
In 1978, their marriage collapsed once and for all when Ray had an affair with cafe waitress Janice Stubbs. Deirdre was crushed and although she initially attempted to stay with Ray, and move to Holland with him for a fresh start, she changed her mind at the last minute. Ray left alone, with Deirdre now a single mother.
1978-1981: Single motherhood
Deirdre struggled as a single mother, living with Emily Bishop. She nearly attempted suicide a second time when she believed Tracy, whom she'd briefly left outside the Rovers doorstep, had been killed by a lorry crashing into the pub. Luckily, a friend had taken Tracy shortly before the accident.
While Deirdre briefly dated Mike Baldwin and old flame Billy Walker and was romantically pursued by Dirk van der Stek, a dutchman who had come to visit her on Ray's behalf, her eyes soon fell on safe, dependable Ken Barlow.
In 1980, Deirdre and Tracy moved into the flat above the Corner Shop, and Deirdre began work for Alf Roberts in the shop. In 1981, Deirdre married Ken.
1981-1989: Marriage to Ken
The relationship soon hit a series of snags. Ken was upset when Deirdre broke his confidence by reporting Betty Turpin's muggers to the police. Deirdre was upset when Ken told her he did not want to have any more children -- she felt she'd been manipulated as he had not told her this before they got married. Deirdre began to find life with Ken suffocating and boring.
After Ken refused to take her to her mother's country club for Christmas, Deirdre accepted a movie date with Mike Baldwin. By the end of the night he had kissed her, and they were soon lovers. Ken was busy with his new job as Deputy Director of Social Services, and Deirdre spent more and more time with Mike. She planned to leave Ken, but when he told her he'd lost his job because he was too boring, she felt sorry for him and told him about her affair with Mike. He told her to leave, and the two erupted into an argument. Mike stopped by, but when Deirdre attempted to open the door, Ken grabbed her by the throat and slammed the door shut. Relations were tense, but Ken and Deirdre decided to save their marriage.Aside from Ken's brief kiss with secretary Sally Waterman, and some tension when Mike married Ken's daughter Susan Barlow, Ken and Deirdre generally had a few years without stress. That changed in 1987 when Ken planned to run as Labour against Alf for a Council seat. Alf said Ken was using his newspaper to promote his party's views, and Ken was forced to choose between his career and politics. He chose his career. Deirdre was furious. She quit her job at the corner shop and stood against Alf as an Independent candidate. Ken initially saw her only as a spoiler so Labour could win, but her campaign gained steam and she won by seven votes. Alf had a heart attack, causing Audrey Roberts to accuse Deirdre of attempted murder.
Ken soon grew annoyed with the amount of time Deirdre spent with Council business, especially when she went to a conference in Bournemouth while Tracy was in hospital with appendicitis. He wrote a newspaper column criticising her for going on taxpayer money.
In 1989, Ken began an affair with his new secretary Wendy Crozier. Deirdre realised over Christmas what was going on. When Ken admitted to what he'd done, Deirdre surprised him by saying she had no interest in fighting for their marriage. She threw him out of the house.
1990-1994: Personal and political woes
Deirdre kept No. 1 as she filed for divorce. While Ken tried to make a go of his relationship with Wendy, Deirdre met Dave Barton, an electrician who had saved Tracy when she accidentally started a kitchen fire while home alone. Dave offered to fit a new kitchen and fit in as Deirdre's boyfriend. The relationship ended when Deirdre became obsessed with Ken's interference in her life.
In 1990, Newton & Ridley offered Deirdre £25,000 for her house as they were interested in expanding the Rovers Return. Although Deirdre was reluctant when she heard that this included remodelling the Rovers into an American-style bar (something which the entire street was against), she soon agreed when the brewery upped their offer by £5,000. As a result all the neighbours turned against Deirdre, seeing her as selling out but as far as Deirdre was concerned she was investing in Tracy's future and was unapologetic. However, the remodelling didn't go through and Newton & Ridley pulled out of the sale leaving Deirdre very shame-faced around her neighbours for a while afterwards.
Tracy, already upset about her parents' breakup, began skipping school. Deirdre threatened to have the local arcades closed down, but was charmed by owner Phil Jennings, who promised to ban everyone under the age of 16. Ken was angry when they became involved and told her that Phil had changed his last name and had once been in prison. Deirdre was impressed by Phil's attempt to start over, and became closer to him than ever. Her relationship with Ken hit an all-time low when he burst into her home to try to find Phil in her bed. She got an injunction against him.
Deirdre soon regretted her relationship with Phil after his rough business dealings inadvertently led Alf Roberts to make another go at his old Council seat. Deirdre hoped for a clean campaign, but behind her back, Phil began smearing Alf's name, falsely claiming Alf was having an affair with a supporter named Vivian. Ken and Alf got in the papers brawling over a poster Ken had put in his window, and all the chaos helped cause Deirdre to lose her Council seat.
Deirdre remained with Phil, trying to run his business, PJ Leisure. She soon learned he had little money, and he began starting card schools. He refused to pay his debts, and was beaten up for his troubles. Deirdre was shocked that not only was Phil fleeing the country, he was doing so with his wife -- Deirdre had unknowingly been only one of his mistresses all along. At a low, Deirdre returned to her old job at Alf's corner shop.
Tracy's behaviour worsened when Maggie Redman spitefully told her that Deirdre and Mike had been lovers. Tracy called her mother a tart and began drinking as well as throwing herself at Deirdre's new boyfriend Doug Murray. Doug needed her to cash a cheque for two thousand pounds, but she would only agree if he took her out. Deirdre found out, made Tracy give the money back, and dumped Doug for causing her daughter to break the law.
1993 had been yet another bad year for Deirdre, and she left the Street in a hurry to attend to her mother Blanche, who had had a stroke. When Deirdre returned, she had plans to reunite with Ken, but was stunned to hear he was expecting a child with Denise Osbourne, which frustrated Deirdre as he had always refused to have a child with her and also caused further acting out from Tracy. With little keeping Deirdre in Weatherfield, she went to holiday in Morocco.
1994-1995: Marriage to Samir Rachid
While in Morocco, Deirdre was charmed by a 21-year old waiter she'd met, Samir Rachid. She surprised her friends by borrowing money so Samir could visit her. He was so happy to be with her that he refused to return home. He got a job at a local restaurant and moved in with Deirdre; when immigration saw their relationship as a scam, Deirdre proposed to him. Tracy and Ken were upset by their relationship, and when they married at the register office, Tracy fled fled from the wedding ceremony in tears. Immigration continued to doubt them, and so did most of Deirdre's friends. Samir felt more and more isolated and feared he would be deported to Morocco. Deirdre sold No. 1 to Mike and moved to Morocco with Samir.
Tracy continued to spiral out of control while Deirdre was gone, climaxing in a drug overdose outside a nightclub. Deirdre and Samir rushed home, and learned Tracy had serious kidney damage and needed a transplant. Deirdre and Ken were not a match, but Samir was. Samir was nervous, but wanted to make Deirdre happy, so he agreed to the transplant. Unfortunately, on his way to the hospital he was brutally beaten by a gang of youths. By the time he was found, he was near death, and died soon after being rushed to the hospital. A devastated Deirdre agreed to let the transplant continue, but refused to see Tracy afterwards. She wished that Tracy had died instead of Samir. Tracy moved to Blackpool as Deirdre mourned her husband.
1996-1999: Imprisonment: "Free The Weatherfield One"
Deirdre's relationship with Tracy remained strained, but she and Ken reunited to support Tracy's wedding to Robert Preston. When they had to find him after his stag do, old passions resurfaced and they fell into bed. Any further relationship was temporarily halted when Ken had to deal with custody of his son Daniel, and later extinguished on a more permanent basis when Deirdre caught Ken with Sue Jeffers, who had helped Ken save his teaching job. Deirdre told Ken she wanted nothing to do with him.
Deirdre began a relationship with bogus 'airline pilot' Jon Lindsay, who treated her to an extravagant lifestyle, but one which was funded by crime and deception. She remained oblivious to the truth about her boyfriend but she learned the hard way when she was falsely accused of fraud.
Jon had implicated Deirdre in his numerous scams. He portrayed her as the brains behind the fraud but the reality was that she had known nothing about it. Deirdre was tried, convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in prison. When another of Lindsay's victims came forward, Deirdre was released and Jon was finally made to pay for his crimes.
1999-2006: Reconciling with Ken Barlow
Deirdre's ordeal had caused her to become closer to Ken, and her mother Blanche, who moved in with Deirdre in 1999, began matchmaking. The final push came when Ken and Deirdre worked to reconcile Tracy with her husband Robert. They realised how good they were together, and Deirdre and Blanche moved in with Ken.
Their relationship still had tensions, as in 2000, when Deirdre lost her job at Mike Baldwin's factory because he believed she was the source for Ken's negative articles on the factory's working conditions. Deirdre was soon vindicated, but she chose to remain at the corner shop, working for Dev Alahan.
2001 was a rocky year for the couple. Deirdre was upset with Ken's indulgence of his troubled son Peter, and a row between Ken and Peter led Deirdre to overhear that Ken's daughter Susan had not aborted Mike's child in 1987, as everyone had assumed. Deirdre told Dev, who told Mike. After Susan later died in a car accident, a bitter custody dispute erupted between Mike and Ken with Deirdre once again stuck in the middle and being blamed by Peter for Susan's death. In the December, Deirdre once again became dissatisfied with her life with Ken. After rowing with Ken and Peter, Deirdre slept with Dev. Afterwards, Dev rejected Deirdre and she subsequently kept her liaison a secret from Ken for over a year, until early 2003, when Dev started dating her daughter Tracy. This prompted Deirdre to confess her fling to both Tracy and Ken, but Ken forgave her and the two subsequently lived happily together, dealing with the trials and tribulations of their children's turbulent love lives rather than their own.
Deirdre's ex-husband Ray Langton eventually returned to the Street in 2005 and announced that he was dying from cancer. He died at Deirdre and Ken's wedding reception held at the Rovers Return Inn.
In spite of their occasional clashes, Mike Baldwin and Deirdre had remained close friends for over two decades after the end of their affair. Deirdre was upset when Mike developed Alzheimer's but was truly beside herself when she visited Mike and realised he no longer knew who she was. Mike died in Ken's arms on 7th April 2006. Deirdre was devastated and went into a deep mourning period, which annoyed Ken.
Deirdre had tried to support Tracy through Tracy's various schemes and lies, but in 2006, she was very concerned when Tracy took up with Charlie Stubbs, who had psychologically broken her friend Bev Unwin's daughter Shelley. Tracy insisted she could tame Charlie, but problems hit early when Charlie told her that she would have to leave her daughter Amy behind if she wanted to move in with him. To make Charlie feel guilty, Tracy pretended to have an abortion, but this backfired when Deirdre learned of the abortion and was ashamed of herself as a mother for letting this happen to Tracy. Tracy told Deirdre the truth, and Charlie soon found out. Deirdre's need for honesty caused havoc again a few months later when Bev let slip to her that Shelley was pregnant with Charlie's baby. Deirdre felt she had no choice but to tell Tracy. All of this eventually led Tracy to her plan to make herself look like a battered woman and kill Charlie in self-defence.
Deirdre and Ken all but bankrupted themselves for Tracy's legal fees, even mortgaging their home. Although Deirdre did her best to defend her daughter in court, she had been made aware of the truth about Charlie's death on 25th March 2007, when Tracy explained that she had killed him in cold-blood. Consequently, she ended up having a panic attack in the witness box. Tracy blamed Deirdre for the collapse of her case. Tracy's fifteen year sentence devastated Deirdre and left her relationship with Ken on rocky grounds. Tracy asked her parents to fund her appeal, but both Deirdre and Ken were appalled that Tracy was more than willing to see them homeless in exchange for a chance to get out of prison and severed all contact with her.
After weeks of turmoil at No.1 Coronation Street, Ken offered Deirdre a shocking ultimatum. In the middle of a blazing row, he announced that if she left, he would be gone by the time she got back. True to his word, Ken left his wife and began rebuilding a relationship with his son Daniel Osbourne, and the child's mother, Denise. Deirdre, full of resentment, promised to confront Denise, and in an episode on 11th May 2007 matters came to a head. The pair rowed in front of an audience at the Rovers Return, an argument which resulted in Deirdre slapping her nemesis, who was then ushered out by Ken.
Deirdre tried to mend her relationship with Ken and even apologised for her behaviour in the Rovers, but she failed to convince him to come back to her at that time. Ken later returned to No.1 and reconciled with Deirdre.
Class warfare and adultery
In 2008, Ken, who had long ago put away his ambitions to be an author, felt like he had amounted to nothing, and he wrote a book about his life. Deirdre tried to support Ken's work, but she was disgusted when she read the pages, which amounted to a novel about a man who had wasted his life by marrying a woman far beneath him. Ken finally tried to soothe Deirdre by burning the book before it was ever published.
Waters were temporarily calmed, with Deirdre spending much of her time caring for her mother Blanche and for Peter's young son Simon. However, Ken continued to find this life stifling, and in early 2009, while walking the family dog Eccles, met a stage actress, Martha Fraser, who lived on a tugboat. Martha was everything Deirdre wasn't and Ken led her to believe he was widowed. They became very close, with Ken spending an increasing amount of time away from home.
Deirdre believed Ken was only spending most of his time at the library. She was angry at Ken for not being enough help around the house, but she did not know the full extent of his neglect until after he had nearly left for good. He had written her a goodbye note, packed a bag, and planned to go away with Martha (who now knew he was married), but changed his mind at the last minute. Peter insisted he tell Deirdre. Deirdre's response was that she never wanted the subject to be brought up again, but she was clearly angered by his betrayal, and took great pleasure in behaving in ways he saw as common, such as loudly singing along with pop songs on the radio or eating unhealthy food.
In 2010 Deirdre received the sad news that her mother Blanche had died in her sleep while on holiday in Portugal.
2010-2014: Later years
In late 2010 Deirdre had taken a job as receptionist at the Medical Centre, replacing Gail McIntyre who was recently fired for breaching patient confidentiality. In December she was delighted when Tracy was released early from prison as a forensics officer working on the murder of Charlie Stubbs was revealed to have faked their qualifications. Despite Tracy winding up the residents of the street upon her return, Deirdre had bit her tongue and stood by her.
In late 2011 when Tracy lied about Becky McDonald pushing her down the stairs and causing her miscarriage, Deirdre decided to keep Tracy's lies a secret as Tracy had threatened to kill herself. Deirdre asked Becky to leave Coronation Street, however Becky later revealed the truth with the help of her sister Kylie Platt on the day of Tracy's wedding to Steve, causing Steve to leave Tracy for her lies.
After Ken had left for Canada to look after grandson Adam Barlow in July 2013, Deirdre took a sort of role as head of the family in Ken's absence, and was a support to Peter when he had lost the bookies. She also took a dislike to Tracy's boyfriend Rob Donovan but later warmed to him when she realised that he had made Tracy happy and the pair got engaged in January 2014.
When Peter was arrested on suspicion of the murder of barmaid Tina McIntyre in July 2014 Deirdre had trouble telling Ken (who was still residing in Canada at that point) in fear of his reaction. When Ken had returned the following month, Deirdre told him the news which angered him, as he was deprived of the information his son was up for murder. However the couple had made up, and both went on a caravan holiday in Wales to sort their marriage.
In October 2014 Deirdre had felt the stress of the situation with Peter's impending trial and during a family dinner had thrown the trifle across the room and broke down in tears. Feeling worried for her, Ken suggested Deirdre should take a break away from Weatherfield and assured her that he would be fine with Peter's trial. She had later left to visit her friend Bev Unwin. Deirdre didn't return for Tracy's (failed) wedding to Rob Donovan, or even after he was exposed as Tina's true killer. She later took an extended break with Bev when her brother had passed away. Ken went to visit Deirdre around the Christmas period.
Deirdre was due to return home in July 2015 and a party was laid on for her in the Rovers to celebrate both her homecoming and her 60th birthday, however Bev returned alone to break the sad news that Deirdre had passed away that morning while sitting on a deckchair in the sun, and that the cause was thought to be a brain aneurysm. Liz broke the news to the stunned regulars in the pub who were waiting to greet their friend.
The aneurysm was subsequently confirmed as the cause of death, which was possibly down to her many years of chain-smoking. Ken also heard from Bev that Deirdre had been intending to return to him a few weeks earlier, but decided against it as she felt humiliated about Tracy's affair with Liz's boyfriend Tony Stewart. Deirdre's funeral was organised for the 13th July and many turned out to pay their respects, with Ken delivering the eulogy.
"I was born one street away from here, I've lived in this street since I was 21, went to school over there, me dad's buried about half a mile over there somewhere and that's probably where I'll finish up. This is my life. Having a cigarette in a pokey little back yard while a house full of people I've known most 'me life eat sausage rolls and drink sherry. It might not be glamorous but it's real and I like it."
Deirdre was a down-to-earth person who was led by her heart. She was also forgiving; despite being furious with Tracy's crimes, she did not give up on her. Her weaknesses were her tendency to fly off the handle under pressure; as shown when she threw a trifle at the wall which led to her going to stay with Bev Unwin to escape the family pressures.
Deirdre was a chain smoker for the best part of her life. She liked red wine, her favourite colour was red, and she liked shopping online for belts. Her signature dish was stuffed marrow, which was served regularly in the Barlow household.
Deirdre's trademarks included a gravelly, scratchy voice and very big glasses. She wore the same style of glasses for almost thirty years (in her youth she was nicknamed "Miss Sexy Spex"), before Dev Alahan crushed them with a box when she put them down for a second. In later years, her frames were much smaller.
Deirdre was the result of an unplanned pregnancy for Blanche and husband Donald, something which was never kept secret from her. Blanche could be a hard and difficult woman to live with and her acid tongued put downs grew more regular as she grew older. Blanche and Deirdre also had a knack for embarrassing each other. At Deirdre's 17th birthday party, Blanche got out her baby photos and showed them to her boyfriend and in later years Deirdre found herself frequently apologising for her mothers stinging words, such as when they went to support Peter at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in 2009.
On the flip side, Blanche didn't hold back in expressing her shame at some of the scrapes Deirdre got into, such as being sent to prison (even though she was innocent) and was disapproving of many of her life choices. At times things could become particularly strained such as in 1975 when Deirdre appalled Blanche by having a drunken one night stand with Maurice Gordon.
Despite this and although they didn't express it regularly, Deirdre and Blanche loved it each other deeply. Blanche was more acutely aware of the good relationship she had with Deirdre and the virtues of her daughter when presented with more dysfunctional examples. In 2004, for example, after hearing the details of Karen McDonald's abusive childhood through Emily Bishop, she made a point of telling Deirdre that she had been a good daughter to her.
When Blanche suffered a stroke in 1993, Deirdre cared for her until she had recovered and as she grew older Blanche moved to live with Deirdre and Ken on a permanent basis. Deirdre remained concerned about Blanche's health in later years and when Blanche announced that she was having a 'wake' in the Rovers in 2007, despite the fact that she wasn't dead, Deirdre worried that she was trying to tell them something and may be seriously ill- although she was proved wrong. Deirdre was devastated when Blanche did pass away in 2010.
Deirdre first met Ray at a party hosted by Billy Walker in March 1973, but initially her attention was focused solely on Alan Howard. Deirdre approached Ray the following May when she was looking for a job, potential work in London having fallen through.
Tracy was Deirdre's only child, born to her and Ray in 1977 and the source of countless amounts of heartache for Deirdre for the rest of her life. Deirdre was devoted to her daughter but struggled to provide her a stable childhood thanks to the breakdown of her marriages to Ray and Ken. As Tracy grew into a teenager she became rebellious and her relationship with Deirdre soured as Deirdre struggled to control Tracy.
Deirdre and Ken Barlow had a long and tumultuous relationship together. At first they were just good friends, but Ken was close enough to the Langtons to be considered for Tracy's godfather in 1977.
Although Deirdre had known Emily previously and had nominated her as Tracy's godmother, the pair became particularly close in 1978 after the breakdown of Deirdre's marriage to Ray. Deirdre was left a single mother and with her own mother also now living some distance away, was grateful for the offer of accommodation and support from Emily at No.3. Emily was recently widowed and with no children of her own, was equally as grateful for the company of Deirdre and Tracy.
Role in the community
Hobbies and interests
As a child Deirdre was in the girl guides and got all her badges but was later thrown out, for reasons her and Blanche "didn't talk about".
Later in life Deirdre took up the hobby of pottery, although she wasn't particularly skilled at it.
Creation and casting
Deirdre was played by Oldham born actress Anne Kirkbride from 1972 until her departure in 2014. The character made a one-off appearance in Episode 1236 on 20th November 1972, as a 'dolly bird' who met Alan Howard at The Vine restaurant.
Kirkbride had begun her career as a stage manager at Oldham Repertory Theatre when she left school in 1970. From here, she began to appear in some of the productions such as Tess of the d'Urbervilles and progressed in to full time acting. Kirkbride recalled being approached by the theatre's boss and told she would be moving from management to acting, saying "It was like all my christmases had come at once and I was a real actress." Kirkbride was encouraged to look wider for acting jobs and began applying for roles at Granada Television, although she was nervous about working in Manchester which she saw as the 'big city'. In November 1971 she got her first TV break in the one off drama Another Sunday and Sweet F.A. written by Jack Rosenthal and broadcast on 8th January 1972.
Kirkbride's casting as Deirdre that summer came about by coincidence as she had recieved a call from Granada to audition for an entirely separate part. Whilst there the casting director noticed her "good northern accent" and asked her to pop in to the Coronation Street office and read three lines; Kirkbride walked away with the part. Although Deirdre was initially only a bit part, producer Eric Prytherch was keen to introduce younger female characters and producers and writers were convinced that the character had more mileage. When she returned for a couple of appearances from Episode 1272 on 26th March 1973, Kirkbride was far less apprehensive and the scenes which featured a drunken Deirdre attempting to seduce a bored Alan Howard proved popular behind the scenes and cemented the future of the character with Kirkbride becoming a contracted regular from Episode 1288 on 21st May 1973.
Deirdre was seen as a sex symbol and gained the nicknamed 'sexy specs' for her trademark large glasses, which already belonged to Kirkbride when she took on the role and early storylines revolving around her romances with Billy Walker and Ray Langton. In 1974, producer Susi Hush planned for Deirdre to marry Billy and the date was set for 1st June 1975 but plans had to be drastically altered when Ken Farrington decided to leave at the end of his current contract that April rather than continue for another six months as previously discussed, owing to a quarrel over extra paid holiday. Still determined for Deirdre to be married, the writers decided to reunite her with Ray instead and they quickly made it to the alter.
Marriage to Ray
After Deirdre and Ray hastily married in July 1975, the next step was to give them a child together. Tracy was born in January 1977, the first child born to regular characters since the Barlow twins in 1965 and unlike the twins whose appearances were kept to a minimum, a conscious decision was made to feature Tracy, who was first played by 15 day old Christabel Finch.
In 1978, Neville Buswell suddenly asked to leave the show and the producers decided that Deirdre would have to be written out with Ray, devising a plot which would see them departing together for a new life in Holland with Tracy. Kirkbride had no idea that Buswell was thinking of quitting and was surprised when she was told she would be written out but after a change of heart the character of Deirdre was saved.
Instead of writing her out, Deirdre's role as a single mother was explored. In 1979 Deirdre was at the centre of a plot involving a lorry crashing into the Rovers as she believed that baby Tracy had been crushed under the rubble after Deirdre left her pram outside the pub momentarily. Curiously, as the outdoor scenes were filmed before the interior scenes, Deirdre's voice appeared hoarse while she was talking to Annie Walker in the back room before the crash as Anne Kirkbride had lost her voice while filming her character screaming for Tracy beforehand.
It was then decided that she should be paired up with street stalwart Ken Barlow played by William Roache, who would become Deirdre's second husband. Ken and Deirdre were married in Episode 2120 broadcast on the 27th July 1981 which by coincidence was in the same week as the real life wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. The media seized upon this in order to further promote 'wedding fever', as journalist Ken Irwin remarked- “Diana was the nation’s sweetheart and Deirdre was television’s sweetheart”.
In another twist of fate, it transpired that the actor who married Ken and Deirdre, Frank Topping was actually an ordained priest and so as William Roache joked: "In one sense, we really were married." (The Corrie Years) Deirdre famously appeared without her glasses for the wedding scenes as Kirkbride remembered: "I had a really pretty blue dress and we just decided it would be nice to have the hair and the dress and no glasses for a change." Although it is sometimes inaccurately stated to be the first time that this had happened in the programme, Deirdre had in fact made a rare handful of appearances without her glasses prior to this, most notably in her first episode in 1972.
In 1982, a storyline was conceived which would become one of Deirdre and Coronation Street's biggest to date as Deirdre embarked on an affair with businessman Mike Baldwin. The Ken/Deirdre/Mike triangle was a ratings winner, and the first Coronation Streetstory to be written about in length in many of the country's newspapers. Neither the actors nor the producers were expecting this reception and both Roache and Kirkbride have commented that they only expected to receive "a few letters" as was usual for significant and/or controversial storylines at that time.
The episode in which Deirdre broke off with Mike after reconciling with Ken was a national event (including being announced on the scoreboard during a Manchester United match, with the words "Ken and Deirdre reunited. Ken 1 - Mike 0" leading to cheers from the spectators). This is widely considered to be a watershed moment which heralded soap operas appearing on the front pages of the national tabloids.
Deirdre's first boyfriend after her split from Ken was Dave Barton, played by David Beckett who became Kirkbride's real life partner until her death. On screen Dave was only a short term part and departed in September 1990 after Deirdre rejected his proposal of marriage but in real life Deirdre and David were happily engaged and got married in 1992.
Deirdre's Moroccan souvenir
The character was absent between December 1993 and May 1994 as Anne Kirkbride was receiving treatment for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. On screen the character departed to look after her mother, Blanche who had suffered a stroke.
When Deirdre returned to the show, the character began a relationship with toyboy waiter Samir Rachid played by who she met while on holiday in Morocco. Samir came to join her in the UK and they were married, with Deirdre becoming Mrs Rachid. The character departed again in Episode 3798 broadcast on 30th December 1994 to start a new life with Samir in Morocco as Kirkbride was still recovering from treatment and required more time off work. Kirkbride was well enough to return to the show full time from Episode 3835 broadcast on 27th March 1995 and the character was reintroduced again as part of a high profile plot in which Tracy suffered kidney failure after taking bad ecstasy. This was the culmination of Tracy growing into a troubled and rebellious teen which Executive Producer Carolyn Reynolds saw as a natural development, commenting: "We felt it was quite natural that if you'd had domestic issues between Ken and Deirdre over the years, this was bound to impact on the teenage daughter."
Having watched the character grow a long with viewers and 'raised' her since she was a baby, Kirkbride later admitted that she and William Roache found it odd when "suddenly our little girl turned into this teenager who was taking drugs and drinking and I think we found it quite hard to cope with in a funny sort of way."
Free the Weatherfield One
In 1997 another new love interest was introduced for Deirdre in so-called pilot Jon Lindsay who was actually a vindictive conman. The story originated when Carolyn Reynolds related the true story of a friend of her's who had been conned in a similar way at a lunchtime writers meeting. Speaking about the storyline Reynolds said "The audience was savvy to what this guy was up to way before Deirdre was so they were waiting for the pay off. The beauty of this story was you thought there was a pay off... and then there was another one... and then there was another one."
As the storyline developed, Deirdre finally discovered Jon's true colours and left him but was now heavily implicated in his fraud and was arrested and put on trial in 1998.
Free the Weatherfield One became a national cause, as Deirdre was convicted of crimes she had not committed. The British public started a big grassroots campaign, pleading with Granada, with papers such as The Sun joining the cause. With the campaign taking off, it was decided that a photograph of Deirdre behind bars was needed and it was up to Granada TV Photographer, Neil Marland to construct the iconic shot which became synonymous with the campaign and storyline after it was printed across a double page by The Daily Star. The Home Secretary even involved Prime Minister Tony Blair, who, with only a touch of irony, attempted to intervene on Deirdre's behalf. Granada had always planned for Deirdre to be freed after a matter of weeks, but allowed the public to think their outcry had caused the decision.
Later years and death
In 2007, Tracy bludgeoned cheating boyfriend Charlie Stubbs to death after deceiving her family and neighbours that he had been physically abusing her. This storyline led to a two hander between Deirdre and Tracy, only the second such occasion in the programme's history. Kirkbride and Kate Ford, who had now taken on the role of Tracy particularly enjoyed filming this episode with Ford saying: "I worked so closely with Annie on that scene. It was just the two of us. We rehearsed and we were given the time to do it."
In September 2014 it was announced that Anne Kirkbride was to take a temporary break from the show. The character's exit was dealt with in October and she was expected to be off for three months and return in the New Year. However Kirkbride passed away on 19th January 2015 after a short illness. The character's final appearance was on Episode 8486 (8th October 2014) and her offscreen death took place on 8th July 2015, her 60th birthday.
First and last lines
"I think it's about time somebody bought me another drink." (First line)
List of addresses
* notes temporary residence
|Councillor||1987 to 1991|
|Receptionist||Rosamund Street Medical Centre||2010 to 8th October 2014|