Deirdre grew up in Weatherfield, raised by her mother Blanche Hunt as Deirdre's dad Donald Hunt died when Deirdre was four. She first arrived in Coronation Street in 1972 and got a job as secretary at the Builders' Yard, and a marriage to owner Ray Langton followed only weeks after Deirdre's fiancé Billy Walker broke off their engagement. The marriage ended in 1978 when Ray had an affair with Janice Stubbs, and Deirdre decided that the trust was gone from their relationship. Deirdre continued to raise their daughter Tracy by herself while Ray moved to Holland.
In 1981, Deirdre married Ken Barlow, who was 16 years older than her but was committed to her and Tracy. Their marriage was happy but sometimes lacked excitement, which in 1983 led Deirdre to have an affair with entrepreneur Mike Baldwin. Deirdre eventually confessed to Ken and decided to stay with him rather than go with Mike. The marriage did end however when Ken had an affair with his secretary Wendy Crozier. When Deirdre found out, she threw Ken out and kept their house.
In the 1990s, Deirdre found happiness with toyboy Samir Rachid and married him in 1995 but Samir was killed when he was beaten up by thugs while on his way to donate a kidney to Tracy. Bad luck continued to follow Deirdre as she became involved with con man Jon Lindsay, who duped her into committing fraud and, in court, convinced the jury that she had masterminded their scheme and tricked him. Deirdre was sent to prison but was released several weeks later when another victim of Jon's came forward.
With Ken also reeling from a string of bad relationships, Ken and Deirdre found themselves living together again and they re-married in 2005. Their second marriage has not been without incident; in 2007 Deirdre testified in court when Tracy murdered Charlie Stubbs, with Tracy confessing to Deirdre that she was actually guilty but expected Deirdre to defend her. Deirdre watched as her only child was given a life sentence for murder.
Deirdre has worked at various places in Weatherfield including the Street Corner Shop and with the Council, although she was made redundant in 2009. A chain smoker, Deirdre has a gravelly, scratchy voice from years of smoking. For many years she wore oversized glasses but now prefers smaller frames. Deirdre currently lives at No.1 Coronation Street with Ken, Blanche having passed away in 2010.
Deirdre Hunt grew up as the only child of corset-maker Blanche Hunt and bank manager Donald Hunt. Donald was run over when she was four years old; Deirdre witnessed the tragedy.
Deirdre was first seen as a "dolly bird," working as a secretary. In a number of early scenes Deirdre repeatedly mentioned a former boyfriend known as Seb H. She made a pass at Alan Howard. 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, keeping the business afloat with Jerry even when Len and Ray temporarily went elsewhere.
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.
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.
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 traumatized. 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.
Marriage to Ken Barlow
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.
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.
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.
One affair too many
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.
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.
Personal and political woes
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 also caused further acting out from Tracy. With little keeping Deirdre in Weatherfield, she went to holiday in Morocco.
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.
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.
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 factor'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 1988, as everyone had assumed. Deirdre told Dev, who told Mike. Mike pursued Susan and Adam in a car chase; Susan was killed and Adam was injured. In the December 2001 period, 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 April 7, 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 in an episode 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.
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 Barlow left wife and began rebuilding a relationship with his son Daniel Osbourne, and the child's mother, Denise Osbourne. 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. Since then Ken has since 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 Barlow. However, Ken continued to find this life stifling, and in late 2008, while walking 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.
- Deirdre has been played by Anne Kirkbride since 1972. The character made a one-off appearance in Episode 1236 on 20th November of that year. The producers and writers were convinced that the character had more mileage and Anne Kirkbride returned for a couple of appearances from Episode 1272 on 26th March 1973 and as a contracted regular from Episode 1288 on 21st May 1973.
- Deirdre's trademarks include 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. Today, her frames are much smaller than they used to be. For Anne's first few years in the role, she wore blank lenses.
- David Beckett, who played Deirdre's boyfriend Dave Barton is now Anne's partner.
- In an episode in 1981, over 24 million viewers watched Deirdre's wedding to Ken Barlow (which received higher ratings in Britain than the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer). In 2005, Deirdre and Ken remarried. The marriage was supposed to coincide with the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles, just as Ken and Deirdre's first marriage coincided with Charles and Diana's nuptials, but scheduling conflicts due to Prince Charles going to the funeral of Pope John Paul II ended up throwing the date off by one day. Nearly 13 million people watched the television event. Only nine million watched the royal nuptials; Ken and Deirdre's second ratings victory against the royal family made the national newspapers.
- The Ken/Deirdre/Mike triangle was a ratings winner, and the first Coronation Street story to be written about in length in many of the country's newspapers. The episode in which Deirdre broke off with Mike Baldwin 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).
- Free the Weatherfield One became a national cause in 1998, 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. 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.