Susan Cunningham was a contemporary of Ken Barlow at Manchester University who unwittingly caused trouble at home for Ken in 1960. Ken arranged to meet her for drinks at the Imperial Hotel, where his mother Ida was employed as a kitchen hand. Frank Barlow objected to Ken spending money in the same place his mum worked hard to earn it and forbade Ken from meeting Susan. When Ken didn't show, Susan drove to Coronation Street to see if he was alright.
Ken's university education had turned him into "a proper stuck-up little snob", as Albert Tatlock put it - "snooty" was the simple way in which Ken's father Frank defined Ken's marked change in attitude. Thus, Ken gradually became thoroughly embarrassed of his surroundings; his contemporaries lived in more affluent areas of the city and he was put out when Susan arrived at No.3, the family home. Susan realised this but soon put his mind at rest: she liked Ken for himself and was not at all bothered by his homeplace.
Ken and Susan split up in 1961, shortly after they took part in a "Ban the Bomb" protest, as they both felt that their backgrounds were too far apart.
Some time later, Susan discovered that she was pregnant by Ken and wrote a letter to him asking if he wanted to try again with their relationship, but he never replied. Her son Lawrence was born later that year. Lawrence went on to have a good career as an English lecturer and had two children of his own, James and Chloe, with Ken none the wiser until August 2010 when it was discovered that Susan's letter had got stuck behind the skirting board at No.3 before he'd had a chance to read it. By this time, Susan had been dead for several years but the discovery of the letter prompted Ken to contact Lawrence and on meeting him, it became obvious to Ken that Lawrence was his son.
- The character was only credited as "Susan" in her appearances, and not by her full name.
List of appearances