Day 21 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.
1981 brought us the wedding of the year when Ken Barlow and Deirdre Langton finally tied the knot. The pair had first started seeing each other in 1979 after Deirdre had told Billy Walker she didn’t find him exciting like she had Ray and he jetted off back to Jersey. The relationship continued for a year or so before the romance died when Ken decided that he didn’t want to risk a third marriage. Despite this, they still had feelings for each other though fate intervened to prevent them seeing more of each other after Ken failed to turn up for a date because his car broke down and so Deirdre took up with Mike Baldwin instead for a while. It was after a flat- warming party at Mike’s when the two of them found themselves doing the washing up together that they realised they were made for each other.
They married in July 1981, two days before another widely watched wedding, with Deirdre noting that the age difference between her and Ken was the same as that between the royal couple. The ceremony took place at All Saints, with Alf Roberts giving the bride away, Emily Bishop as matron of honour, Tracy Langton and Susan Barlow as bridesmaids and Len Fairclough as best man. The pair settled down to married life at no. 1 along with the uncle of Ken’s first wife, Albert Tatlock. Working all day in the corner shop and then coming home to look after a four year old child, an eighty six year old curmudgeon and a husband who had started taking her for granted, it’s no surprise that when wooed by a man who treated her as a desirable woman rather than a drudge she fell for Mike Baldwin.
Emily worked out what was going on between Deirdre and Mike and begged her not to throw her marriage away. Deirdre had already decided that it was over though and planned to run away to Mike with Tracy but when it came down to it she couldn’t face leaving Ken on his own. She confessed all and ken threw her out but she refused to go and begged his forgiveness. They were reconciled and Ken set about rejuvenating himself and their marriage, warning Mike to stay away from his family.
Deirdre became a councillor and Ken became first agony uncle and then editor on The Weatherfield Recorder. This combination was fraught with problems as Ken would quiz Deirdre about goings on at the council and use what he learned as a husband when writing for the paper. When Ken alerted the readers to confidential council plans to turn a local community centre into a hostel for homeless youths, Deirdre’s colleagues assumed that he had learnt of the details from her. Officials at the council only believed her denials of any involvement when The Recorder started to print details of meetings which she hadn’t attended. Ken eventually admitted that the mole was the chief executive’s secretary, Wendy Crozier who was promptly sacked.
Feeling guilty for not protecting his sources, Ken employed Wendy on the paper and one thing led to another and as Ken turned 50, the two became lovers. They managed to keep the affair secret for three months but on Christmas Eve Deirdre confronted Ken with her suspicions and he broke down and admitted the affair. Deirdre was less forgiving than Ken had been over Mike and on New Year’s Eve she threw him out and then filed for divorce.
Nearly ten years later, Deirdre had ended up in jail after being taken in by con-man Jon Lindsay. Along with others on the Street, most notably Mike Baldwin, Ken worked hard to right the miscarriage of justice. Blanche Hunt returned to the Street to live with her daughter and immediately set about matchmaking between Ken and Deirdre. She was unsuccessful but their daughter Tracy managed to reconcile them after returning home after leaving her husband.
In 2005 the couple got married again but married bliss wasn’t their style and in 2009, Ken embarked on an affair with Martha Fraser who lived on a canal boat. When faced with the opportunity to say goodbye to the Street and spend the rest of his life with his intellectual equal, Ken couldn’t do it. He returned to Deirdre and confessed all but rather than get annoyed and have endless rows about the whole affair or throw him out, Deirdre just treated Ken with contempt. After all, Ken had forgiven her over her unseemly fling with Dev Alahan some years before and so she decided with some bitterness that she could do the same.
Also in 1981: Rita and Len Fairclough try to adopt and end up fostering; Fred Gee marries Eunice Nuttall; Alma Sedgewick makes her first appearance; Arnold Swain dies leaving Emily £2000; Alf Roberts proposes to Audrey who runs away; Vera Duckworth has a fling and Jack throws her out.