When Ken Barlow was out walking his dog Eccles near Weatherfield Canal in January 2009, the dog chased after some ducks and fell into the freezing water. As Ken tried to get Eccles out, Martha Fraser extended a fishing net from her boat and managed to save her. Martha offered Ken and Eccles a place to warm up, and Ken gratefully agreed.
Martha and Ken bonded quickly over their shared love for literature. She told him she'd been living on a boat for seven years, ever since she'd split from her philandering husband. Ken confided in her about his troubled son, Peter. When Martha asked about Peter's mother, Ken told her she was dead. Martha assumed that Ken was a widower, and Ken kept quiet about his marriage to Deirdre. Ken visited her again several days later, and learned she'd given up acting to start a family and was now starring in a local production of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Martha and Ken finally kissed. However, at the beginning of April, Ken eventually told her that he was married. Martha was devastated and told him to leave. He kept pestering her to admit that she had feelings for him as he told her that he was in love with her. Despite this, she wasn't interested, especially when she discovered that Deirdre didn't know about their affair. Their relationship was discovered by Audrey Roberts, after her ex-partner Ted Page, who had known about the affair, was forced to admit it. Audrey told Ken's son Peter.
Ken visited Martha again during the following month, when she told him that she loved him too and they slept together. As Ken was leaving, she told him that she would soon be moving as she was working on a new play, and asked him to go with her. Martha was delighted when Ken arrived with a suitcase, saying that he was ready to join her. As she sailed away, she looked back and saw Ken standing on the bridge; he had changed his mind at the last minute and went back to live with Deirdre.
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