Michael Vernon "Mike" Baldwin was a London-born businessman who owned and managed the Baldwin's Casuals and Underworld factories in Coronation Street between 1976 and 2006.

Mike started his career as a market stall holder but within a few years was running his own factory in the rag trade. In 1976, he opened denim-maker Baldwin's Casuals in Weatherfield and moved there, ending his relationship with his common-law wife Anne Woodley. As an employer, Mike was ruthless, quick to threaten his machinists with the sack and constantly putting them in their place.

Away from the factory, Mike led a bachelor's life - using his Cockney charm and bulging wallet to attract women. He wanted a family but his lies and schemes destroyed many a relationship and prevented him from watching any of his three sons grow up. His eldest, Danny, was a result of an affair between Mike and his sister-in-law Viv, and Mike didn't know until 2005 that he was his son. Next was Mark Redman, born after his mother Maggie had already left Mike and married Harry Redman, with Mike ordered to stay away.

Mike didn't marry until 1986 when he fell for Susan Barlow, the daughter of Mike's sworn nemesis Ken Barlow. The two men had been enemies ever since Mike had an affair with Ken's wife Deirdre in 1983, and their feud would continue for many more years. In 1987, Susan fell pregnant but let Mike believe that she'd aborted the child so that she could carry on with her career, leading Mike to finish with her. It wasn't until 2001 that Mike found out Susan had in fact given birth to a son, Adam.

Mike sold Baldwin's Casuals to builder Maurice Jones in 1989 - only to lose most of the money in a bad property deal. The 1990s saw him rebuild his empire by marrying Jackie Ingram in order to get his hands on her late husband's factory, a plot which ended with Jackie seeing Mike off at gunpoint. His longest-lasting marriage was to Alma Sedgewick. They lived a happy life together, until Alma finished with Mike after he ended up sleeping with Julia Stone. Upon securing various investments including MVB Motors, the Crimea Street flats, and factory Baldwin's Sportswear, Mike returned to his roots with knicker factory Underworld in 1997. By then, Mike had embarked on another rivalry; this time with local taxi driver Don Brennan, whom Mike had constantly humiliated up until Don decided to get even on his rival. Their intensifying conflict involved Don kidnapping Alma, and then trying to kill Mike on several occasions - ultimately concluding with Don attempting to run over Mike in his car. However, Don missed and instead drove into a wall - where the car promptly exploded and killed him as Mike, rushed to safety by Ken and their friend Rita Sullivan, watched on.

The 2000s of Mike's life saw him re-connect with all of his sons and marry Linda Sykes, one of his machinists. He soon threw her out in 2001 after realising that she was only after his money. Around that time, Mike was devastated to learn that both his ex-wives Alma and Susan were dead; Alma having died of cancer and Susan being killed in a road collision. Towards the end of 2005, Mike began to develop signs that he was having Alzheimer's disease. This experienced continued until April 2006, when Mike suffered a heart attack and died in the arms of Ken after wondering around Weatherfield in his last moments.

Biography

1942-1976: Early years

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Michael Vernon Baldwin was born in London on 16th February 1942, the son of Frankie, a docker, and Mary. He had a brother, Harry. Mike's first child, Danny, was born in 1960, the result of Mike's affair with Harry's wife Viv. Mike began his business career as a market stall trader before eventually running his own business in the rag trade, manufacturing shirts and denim trousers. He later opened his own factory, Baldwin's Casuals, in London.

1976-1989: Baldwin's Casuals and affairs

After arriving in Weatherfield in October 1976, Mike bought the derelict Mark Brittain Warehouse and rebuilt it to house the northern factory of Baldwin's Casuals. He quickly employed some of the local residents and bought and refurbished 5 Coronation Street in order to be close to his business.

In December 1980, Mike's father Frankie visited from London and asked Mike to invest £2,000 in Gee Wizz Video Enterprises, a home video company he was running in partnership with his friend Terry. Mike was well aware of his father's past as a con artist and refused. Frankie found an investor in Fred Gee, who invested £70. Mike warned Fred of Frankie's background but Frankie had fled back to London by the time Fred tried to get his money back. Six weeks later, Fred was interviewed by the CID over his investment in illegal pornography, as it transpired Frankie's partner Terry had been using the video equipment to make pornographic films. Fred demanded Mike pay him back his money in Frankie's absence, but Mike refused.

Frankie died from a heart attack in July 1982, leaving Mike £3,000 in his will. Two months earlier, Mike had met and begun a relationship with florist Maggie Dunlop. Despite the brief status of the relationship, Maggie moved in with Mike and she later fell pregnant. Mike was thrilled but Maggie was not as she didn't want a baby and was unsure that she wanted to settle with Mike. She eventually left him when he refused to buy the florist's she worked in. Maggie married Harry Redman and moved away after the birth of her son, Mark. Harry and Maggie raised Mark as Harry's son and Mike had little involvement in the early years of Mark's life.

The showdown on the doorstep...

The following year, Mike began an affair with Deirdre Barlow. Before her marriage to Ken Barlow, Mike and Deirdre had briefly dated until Deirdre decided Ken suited her better. On the night Deirdre confessed to the affair to Ken, Mike turned up on the Barlows' doorstep preparing to whisk Deirdre away. Ken confronted Mike before slamming the door in his face. Ken and Deirdre resolved to work on their marriage but the affair turned Ken and Mike into sworn enemies.

Mike went on to marry Ken's daughter Susan in 1986, antagonising Ken further. Their marriage seemed cosy at first, but Mike envisioned Susan as a housewife whereas Susan was a career woman. Susan became pregnant but was unwilling to put her career on hold. As a result, she lied and told Mike she had aborted their child. Mike was furious, and Susan returned to Glasgow the following year. Unbeknown to Mike, his son Adam was born on 3rd May 1988.

1989-1999: Rags to riches and back again

In 1989 developer Maurice Jones approached Mike and asked if he'd be willing to sell his factory to him, as he intended to put a new row of houses between Coronation and Arkwright Street. Mike initially refused until he learned that Jones had bought up all the land surrounding it so needed the sale. As a result, Mike sold the factory for more than double its worth but also made enemies of those he had just put out of work.

Using the money, Mike moved into a quayside flat and also began seeing his estate agent Dawn Prescott. Mike soon found himself bored now he was no longer working. A couple of months later Mike was introduced to Dawn's brother Robert who informed Mike that he was trying to buy up a petrol station in Alcazar, Spain as the land it stood on was due to dramatically increase in value. Sniffing the potential to make a profit (and desperate to satisfy his ego), Mike quickly flew to Spain and bought the petrol station himself, then took great pleasure in telling Robert he'd bought the land from under his nose and would happily sell it on for a price. The smile was quickly wiped off Mike's face when Robert revealed that the land was worthless and had been his in the first place (Robert having purchased it then getting lumbered with it when developers moved elsewhere). Mike was furious, having lost a large chunk of the money he'd made from selling the factory, and his relationship with Dawn quickly soured when he accused her of being in league with her brother. Soon after this he resumed his on/off relationship with Alma Sedgewick.

Deciding to start again, Mike started sniffing around his old contacts looking for any business they could offer. He struck gold during a meeting with Peter Ingram of Ingram's Textiles, who ordered 1000 travel bags from Mike. Peter thought Mike still had a factory, when in fact he was paying some of his former workers to make the bags in their front rooms (as well as having Alma make some in his flat). When Peter learned the truth, he was unhappy but allowed this to continue. When Ivy Brennan learned that she and the other girls were being underpaid, she formed a workers cooperative alongside Emily Bishop and went to Peter Ingram herself and offered to keep working but directly for him, cutting Mike out and increasing their pay. Ingram, happy to wipe the smile off Mike's face, agreed. Not one to be outsmarted, Mike went to the travel company and offered them a lower price to make the bags, snatching the deal off Ingram. Mike then set up a small factory in the cafe flat, employing more girls, but this was shut down when the local health and safety department were called in. Ingram couldn't deny Mike's initiative and decided he'd rather have on side than against him, and offered him a job as a sales rep. The job offer, however, was conditional to Mike signing a contract promising he wouldn't set up business in similar lines or use his contacts for five years. Despite his hands being tied, Mike swallowed his pride and signed the contract, as he needed the job if he wanted to keep his Quayside flat. Mike claimed to local residents he was in partnership with Ingram. However, local taxi driver Don Brennan learned the truth after he picked Ingram up in his taxi and loudly proclaimed it to everyone in the Rovers Return. An embarrassed Mike was hauled into Ingram's office the next day and ordered to knock it off.

Other than his father, Mike had only ever worked for himself so the idea of answering to Ingram left a bitter taste in his mouth. After just a few months, Mike decided he'd had enough and set up Phoenix Fabrics. To keep himself safe from Ingram's lawyers, Mike decided to hire a right-hand man who would be the face of the company while he ran things behind the scenes. Ingram sussed out what Mike was up to straight away and sent his wife Jackie (under a fake name) to the interviews to confirm his suspicions. Mike was then moved inside the factory and demoted to the position of works manager, answering to Ingram's deputy Ralph Dobson, so Ingram could keep an eye on him. Mike hated being works manager more than he'd hated being a sales rep, as he was doing the same job he'd done at Baldwin's Casuals but without any of the money that came with it. He aimed to replace Dobson as Ingram's number two, but when Ingram told Baldwin he would never get that or any other higher position the two got into a huge argument which ended when Ingram dropped dead of a heart attack.

Seeking to fill the power vacuum at Ingram's Textiles, Mike immediately started acting as if he owned the place determined to oust Dobson who was placed in charge by Jackie. He secured the company an order with Phil Jennings and began a charm offensive on Jackie, only for her to decide to sell the business. Mike, keen to stop this, arranged for an associate to put in a low offer to persuade Jackie not to sell then acted like he'd received another job offer. Jackie took the bait, called off the sale and made Mike general manager, an act which caused Robson to resign. As a result, Mike became Jackie's right-hand man and while he wasn't officially in charge of the business he might as well have been, since he was making all the important decisions.

It wasn't long before Mike and Jackie ended up in bed, which they did after celebrating a huge order. Jackie told Mike she wanted a relationship with him but only if he dumped Alma. Although reluctant, Mike didn't want to miss the opportunity to continue his takeover of Ingram's Textiles and kicked Alma to the curb.

In the New Year of 1991, Mike sold his Quayside flat and moved in with Jackie who decided to sell her house so they could live together somewhere that was truly theirs. It wasn't long before Mike proposed to Jackie, and she accepted. Worried that Mike was only after her money, Jackie had a pre-nuptial agreement drawn up protecting her assets should the couple divorce. Mike perfectly manipulated Jackie by signing it straight away without reading it, leading Jackie to feel so guilty that she threw it out and drew up another one giving him 25% of everything upon their wedding.

The factory started going through a recession, forcing Ingram's to lay off some of the staff while their biggest client went bust. Mike worked flat-out to save the factory, and Jackie started to worry Mike was going to work himself into an early grave like Peter did. Ralph Dobson came forward and offered to buy the factory off her, and she agreed on the condition that he made a suitable offer and gave him access to the books. Mike and Jackie were married, but on their wedding night Jackie gave Mike his present; she was selling the factory and they going to take a couple of years off to relax. Mike was horrified that the factory he'd married Jackie for was going to be sold just as he was about to totally take over. The couple spent the whole honeymoon arguing, with Mike convincing Jackie that it was in his nature to work and he couldn't just stop and do nothing for years. Jackie backed out of the deal, only for Dobson to tell Jackie that 'Alcazar Holdings' which Mike had claimed was a small company set up for tax purposes was actually the owner of Jim's Cafe and the attached flat, where Alma worked and lived, which was its only asset and was also being sub-let for almost nothing. Jackie confronted Mike, who explained that he'd bought the lease on the cafe and flat as a way to alleviate his guilt over how he treated Alma when she was nearly forced to sell up by a sudden rent increase.

Although Jackie had agreed not to sell, she did so under the condition Mike prove to her it was still a going concern. Mike came through with a great deal, but before she could learn about it Phil Jennings, who was well aware of all the schemes and tricks Mike had pulled to get control of the factory and nursing a grudge since Mike turned him down for a loan, told Jackie everything. Jackie was furious, and threatened Mike with a shotgun before leaving him, their marriage lasting only a week.

A couple of years later, after almost breaking up, Mike and true love Alma finally married. Mike ran his business, and Alma ran Jim's Cafe with Gail Platt; their marriage hit rocky patches at times. As his business went through a rough patch in 1998, Mike slept with Julia Stone, who turned out to be a former prostitute, and blackmailed him for large sums of cash. Long-suffering Alma finally found out the truth, and walked out on Mike; upon divorcing him, Alma reverted to her maiden name of Halliwell.

1999-2006: Fourth marriage, later years and Alzheimer's

Mike was soon wooing others, and settled with loud-mouthed machinist Linda Sykes, who was half his age. His son, Mark Redman, turned up in Weatherfield, and he took him on at the factory as manager. This proved wrong as, on his wedding night, Mike found out that Mark and Linda had been sharing a steamy affair. He forgave Linda, but told Mark to get out of his life. He duly left the area.

Mike's fourth marriage didn't last long though, as cracks began to appear. Mike enraged a jealous Linda by choosing to spend some days with his ex-wife Alma, as she was dying. He was with her as she died from cervical cancer. At this point, he knew that it was a mistake marrying Linda and that he loved Alma all along, and it was too late. He called Linda a tart, and claimed that she had married him only for his money, ending their marriage. Linda then slept with Harvey Reuben, Mike's new business associate in revenge. She also caused a stir at the wedding of Fred Elliott and her mother Eve, and the pressure built on Mike as Mark reappeared for the celebration. Mike was spotted fighting with Linda, who disappeared. Mike was arrested on suspicion of murder and gained a few stalkers in the Sykes' clan. Linda was later found living in Ireland with a new man.

In 2001, Mike's first wife, Susan, returned to Weatherfield to build bridges with her estranged father, Ken. It was revealed that she had a son, Adam, by Mike. The truth was that she hadn't terminated her pregnancy as she said, but had made this up in order to escape Mike. As Mike began a fight to gain access to his son, Susan made efforts to escape him once more, but in her haste to leave, she crashed her car on the motorway and was killed. Adam survived the crash and this led to a custody battle between Mike and his nemesis Ken. Adam was awarded to Mike, although he was returned to Glasgow to attend Borthwick Hill boarding school.

In 2004, Mike was joined by his nephew Danny, and his wife, Frankie, and their children, Jamie and Warren. In July 2005, Danny's apparent "father" Harry died. Following Harry's death, Danny's mother Viv visited Weatherfield. However, she dropped a bombshell to her brother-in-law Mike that she'd kept secret for years that Mike is Danny's biological father. 3 months later in October, the revelation came when Danny found that that he was actually Mike's son, a result of a fling between Mike and his sister-in-law, Viv.

Mike dies in the arms of his nemesis

Near the end of 2005, Mike was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease aged 63. He soon split from his beautiful girlfriend Penny King, whom he had intended to marry. As his condition worsened in March after a fall while on holiday in Spain for a couple of weeks, he once asked Rita Sullivan how her husband Len was - when he had in fact died more than twenty years earlier. He also went into the Rovers and asked where Bet Lynch was, not remembering that she had left the pub ten years earlier. A further misunderstanding caused him to become estranged from Adam. Danny engineered sole inheritance of Mike's empire, egged on by his girlfriend Leanne Battersby.

On 7th April 2006, Mike had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia, but escaped when Jamie left his side for a moment. Making it back to his factory on Coronation Street, he was later found by his old rival Ken. Then suddenly, he suffered a massive heart attack and died in Ken's arms after a short battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 64 years old.

Background information

  • Mike's family history was retconned in 2004 when mention was made of his brother Harry. Prior to this, Mike was always referred to as an only child.
  • Contrary to reports at the time, Johnny Briggs did not quit the role of Mike Baldwin which led to him being killed off. Writer John Fay came up with the idea for the Alzheimer's storyline during a story conference and convinced other writers to give the plot to Mike Baldwin. (50 Years of Coronation Street: The (Very) Unofficial Story)
  • After leaving Coronation Street, Johnny Briggs reprised the role of the ghost of Mike Baldwin, visiting Norris Cole in a one-off sketch show as part of ITV's Text Santa charity initiative which was broadcast on 21st December 2012.

First and last lines

"If I come back and find another card school, it's down the road for the lot o' yer." (First line)

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"You're finished, Barlow! Deirdre loves me. She's mine, I..." (Final line, just before suffering a fatal heart attack)

Appendices

See also

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