Deirdre Barlow

Deirdre Barlow: Coronation Street icon and Anne Kirkbride’s legacy

She's a Street icon and still talked about on-screen!

Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street was the bespectacled cobbles icon and firm fan fave. She was married to Ken Barlow – more than once – among others, and is mum to Tracy Barlow.

For more than 40 years, Deirdre was at the heart of the soap, and she’s still mentioned by her on-screen family today.

So what was her story?

Who is Dierdre Barlow in Coronation Street?

Dierdre is the daughter of Blanche Hunt and Donald Hunt.

She was born on July 8 1955.

Who played Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street?

Deirdre was played by actress Anne Kirkbride. Anne joined the show in 1972 in an occasional role as teenager Deirdre Hunt.

But sassy, flirty Deirdre proved popular with viewers and became a regular character on the cobbles.

Anne was married to fellow actor David Beckett. The pair met when David appeared in Corrie playing a love interest for Deirdre called Dave Barton.

Though Dave and Deirdre didn’t last, David and Anne tied the knot.

Anne died in January 2015 of breast cancer that had metastasised to her brain.

Two days after her death, at the National Television Awards, William Roache (who plays Ken Barlow) paid tribute to his friend and on-screen wife.

A public memorial service was held for Anne in May 2015, so fans could pay their respects.

Anne joined Corrie in the early 1970s (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

Read more: Coronation Street in 2022: Who’s leaving and who’s joining Weatherfield?

Deirdre’s early days on the Street

After a broken engagement to older man Billy Walker, Deirdre caught the eye of troublemaker Ray Langton.

The pair had a fiery romance and married in 1975, with daughter Tracy being born the following year.

But after Deirdre was raped, their marriage fell apart.

There was more drama for poor Deirdre when a lorry crashed into the Rovers, where she’d left baby Tracy in her pram. Luckily Tracy was safe.

Deirdre and Ray got married (Credit: ITV)

Coronation Street: Deirdre, Mike and Ken

Newly single Deirdre had a romance with factory owner Mike Baldwin before realising that Ken Barlow was the man for her.

Their relationship got off to a rocky start when Ken – who’d already been married twice – got cold feet but eventually they tied the knot in 1981. Aww.

More people watched Ken and Deirdre tie the knot than watched Charles and Di! (Credit: ITV)

Ken and Deirdre wed just a few days after Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer and more people watched the soapy marriage than the real-life Royal wedding!

Later, though, Deirdre had an affair with old flame Mike.

The whole country was gripped by the illicit romance and when Deirdre chose her husband over Mike, the episode smashed ratings records.

At the time the episode went out, Manchester United were playing Arsenal and the news was announced on the scoreboard at Old Trafford! It read: “Ken and Deirdre reunited. Ken 1 – Mike 0”!

Later, though, Ken had an affair with Wendy Crozier, and the pair divorced.

Ken and Mike were bitter rivals (Credit: ITV)

The Weatherfield One

After the death of her third husband Samir Rachid, Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street fell for charming airline pilot Jon Lindsay.

But Ken was suspicious of Jon and discovered he’d lied. He actually worked in a tie shop at Manchester Airport!

Deirdre forgave Jon, who fibbed that he’d lost his pilot’s licence because of his failing eyesight. But he was more sneaky than she could imagine and was actually a sophisticated conman who was setting poor Deirdre up to take the blame for his scams!

When Jon was caught, he made out that Deirdre was the brains of his operation and she went to jail!

Ken, though, was determined to free her. Working with former love rival Mike Baldwin, the pair fought to prove her innocence.

The campaign – Free the Weatherfield One – hit the newspapers and captured the public’s imagination. Questions were even asked in the House of Commons about the case!

After Deirdre was released, she and Ken reconciled.

Deirdre Barlow in jail
Free the Weatherfield One! (Credit: ITV)

Marrying Ken again

Once again following in the footsteps of Prince Charles, Ken and Deirdre married for the second time in 2005, on the same day as Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles.

And once again, the Barlows’ wedding attracted more viewers than the Royal ceremony!

Ken and Deirdre Barlow Corrie Credit: ITV/Shutterstock
Ken and Deirdre reconciled (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

Though the following years were full of drama, the pair stayed together until eventually, struggling with the stress of stepson Peter Barlow’s trial for killing Tina McIntyre, Deirdre snapped and threw a trifle at the wall.

Deirdre went to stay with her friend Bev Unwin, and stayed even when the trial was over. She was due to return for her 60th birthday and her family prepared a party.

But instead, Bev showed up with the devastating news that Deirdre had passed away.

Though it’s more than five years since Deirdre died, she is still often mentioned by daughter Tracy, husband Ken, and the rest of her family.

Her memory lives on in the Street!

Read more: Who is in the cast of Coronation Street 2022? Meet the full line-up

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Coronation Street airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm for an hour.

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Kerry Barrett
Freelance Soap Writer