First appearance: 9th December 1960
Last appearance: 10th April 1968
Alan Rothwell played the role of Ken Barlow’s younger brother David between 1960 and 1961 and from 1963 to 1968.
Born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1937, Rothwell made his acting debut in The Claverdon Road Job in 1957. Three years later, he was cast in the role of 18 year old David Barlow in new drama serial Coronation Street and made his debut in the first episode. Although an apprentice engineer, David sought a career in football and was a successful player for Weatherfield County and even left the street in 1961 to play for a London team. During his hiatus from the show, Alan Rothwell had roles in Top Secret (1961-1962) and Z Cars (1963).
He made a permanent return in 1964 where he was paired off with new girl Irma Ogden. His football career ended the following spring when he tore a ligament and he announced his retirement. David and Irma had a quiet wedding but the residents joined in the reception. That year the Barlows bought the Corner Shop from Lionel Petty and made them at the heart of the street. In 1967, Irma became pregnant but suffered a miscarriage and that Christmas, to heal the pain, the Barlows fostered Jill Morris for a few days. David was the hero of the hour in 1967 when a train crashed into the street and he saved Ena Sharples from the wreckage. By 1968, David had grown tired of shop life and wished to return to the football field – after all he was still 26. He was offered a place in an Australian team and the Barlows sold the shop to Les and Maggie Clegg and immigrated to Australia where their son Darren was born that year. The reason for their departure was that both Rothwell and Sandra Gough, who played Irma, wished to seek other acting projects. Over the years, Rothwell had appeared in 253 episodes.
While Irma visited the street in 1969, David didn’t accompany her. In 1970, Sandra Gough wished to return to Coronation Street and when Rothwell was approached to reprise his role as David, he rejected, stating that he was too busy within the theatre. With Irma becoming a regular character, the producers decided the best thing to do was kill David off. He died in a car crash in Australia as well as their son Darren. Rothwell was saddened with the decision to kill off David as he thought that when the time came, he could return to the show. While David’s memory was kept by Irma until her departure in 1971, the character has been largely forgotten by the show and is never mentioned by his brother Ken.
Rothwell has managed to have various acting rolls over the years and the role of David has never affected him. He appeared in Play for Today (1970-1973) and in 1985 he re-entered the soap world when he was cast as drug addict Nicholas Black in Liverpool based soap Brookside but the character was killed off in 1986. He’s had various roles in Heartbeat (1994-1995), Emmerdale (1997-1998), Wilmot (1999-2000), Dead Man Weds (2005), Doctors (2004-2010) and Casualty (1998-2011). He was also a presenter on children programmes Picture Box between 1969 and 1990 and Hickory House between 1973 and 1978. He appeared as himself in Coronation Street based documentary The Corrie Years in 2011.
He’s been married twice: to Marjorie Ward and Maureen Haydon. He has a child with Haydon.
Have you ever seen or met Alan Rothwell? Have you any pieces of trivia about him?
Research from Wikipedia, Corriepedia and IMDB.
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