2010-2011: Meeting his biological grandfatherEdit
Ken first discovered in September 2010 that former girlfriend Susan had fallen pregnant and given birth to a son in 1961. He was surprised to learn that he also had another grandchild by Lawrence. James was gay, which resulted in a strained relationship between father and son.
When Ken finally met his new family in 2010, he was shocked that Lawrence was opposed to James's sexuality and tried to unite son and grandson, but Lawrence didn't listen and was determined to stand by his views and not let Ken talk him out of it. James worked in a charity shop and shared a flat with another man. Although he wasn't happy with the way his dad was against him, he was pleased that his grandfather Ken understood him.
In April 2011, when Roof & Refuge opened up a homeless hostel in Weatherfield and were recruiting workers, James accepted the job. Needing somewhere to stay before he could set somewhere up himself, he turned up at 1 Coronation Street asking Ken if he could move in, although he was thrown by Ken and Deirdre's constant bickering and arguing. He started to get to know his neighbours, including Sophie Webster and her girlfriend Sian Powers, who began to show an interest in his charity work. He invited them along, and the pair commencing volunteering there. One day, Sophie and Sian were put in charge for the day running the soup kitchen, but James later turned up at Sophie's house announcing that the premises had been broken into and the charity boxes emptied of the cash. Feeling guilty, Sophie gave James her wages from her job at the Corner Shop, much to the disgust of her father Kevin, who told her not to return. However James offered Sophie a full-time position at the soup kitchen, which she accepted, even though Kevin and Sally were against the idea.
2011: James' deceitEdit
When James told Sophie that the charity was raising money to open up a homeless hostel, they came up with an idea for a charity auction and Sophie managed to convince Nick Tilsley to hold the auction at The Joinery. They enlisted ex-homeless man (and ex-Coronation Street resident) Dennis Tanner to speak about his time being on the streets and how the shelter and soup kitchen had helped him keep going. They managed to raise money, but James stated it wasn't enough to bid for the property they were after. Sophie aked Kevin for a loan but he declined. Sophie however transferred £20,000 from Kevin's bank account to soup kitchen owners Rob and Janet White's account. However they didn't get the property, but disappeared with the money without trace. Sophie admitted what she did to her dad, and an angry Kevin stormed round to Ken's house and confronted James about the money, but he denied knowing where the money was and knew nothing about what had happened. However, James was in fact in on the scam with Rob and Janet and later met up with Rob to get his cut. There was a dispute between them as James only got £3,000, and wanted more for his troubles, but Rob refused as he was a "junior". James then decided to con the Barlows; in an attempt to re-mortgage No.1, he managed to get Ken and Deirdre away in order for a surveyor to look round at the house. As Amy was dropped off by father Steve McDonald, she wondered who the strange man was and told James she was going to tell her granddad and her mother Tracy. James threatened her, saying he would put Tracy and the rest of her family in prison, scaring the child. When Tracy realised there was something wrong with Amy, she was shocked when Amy revealed what James said, and told Ken and Deirdre. However, James managed to talk his way out of it, claiming Tracy was making it up.
When a letter arrived for Ken with a cheque for £50,000, he began to question James over it. Knowing he couldn't fool Ken anymore, he admitted his plan and blamed all his troubles on his father Lawrence, and Ken for sleeping with Susan. James showed no remorse for his actions and admitting that he would con again, Ken decided to phone the police. James attempted to stop him, and ended up banging Ken's head on the wall knocking him out. James then packed his bags and fled before alarms were raised. The residents of the Street were shocked to hear about what James had done, although Ken refused to phone the Police believing James would be guilty of what he had done. Kevin Webster however reported James to the police after finding out.
- James was played by James Roache, the real-life son of William Roache, who plays his on-screen grandfather Ken Barlow. He is also the younger half-brother of Linus Roache, who played his on-screen father Lawrence. James and Linus were brought in as part of the show's 50th anniversary celebrations and to have the opportunity to act alongside their father on the show (Linus himself had previously co-starred with his father one-off in the 1970s as Peter Barlow).
- From Episode 7621 (10th June 2011) onwards, James was credited with his full name James Cunningham, whereas in previous appearances he was credited just as "James".
List of appearancesEdit