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Coronation Street

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Valerie Barlow
Occupation Hairdresser
Born 26th November 1942
Birthplace Glasgow
Died 27th January 1971
Father Alfred Tatlock
Mother Enid Tatlock
Spouse(s) Ken Barlow (1962)
Children Peter Barlow (1965)
Susan Barlow (1965)
First appearance 7th August 1961
Last appearance 27th January 1971
Duration 1961, 1962-1971
Played by Anne Reid

Valerie Barlow (née Tatlock) was Ken Barlow's first wife. She lived in Coronation Street for nearly ten years before dying from an electric shock when using a faulty electrical outlet in her home.




Early life

Valerie Tatlock was born on 26th November 1942 to Alfred and Edith Tatlock, and grew up in Glasgow. Her uncle, Albert Tatlock, lived in Coronation Street in Weatherfield, and by the time of her visit in 1961 she was already a successful hairdresser. Valerie took up residence at Number 1 for a few months.

Ken and Valerie wed, 1962
Val immediately caught the eye of student Ken Barlow, who lived right next door to Albert. They had a date, but Val wasn't as keen on a relationship as Ken, she felt that Ken would not be happy with her because he was university-educated and aspired to live above the working-class values which Valerie was comfortable with. When Ken's mother Ida was killed in September 1961 Val spent more time with Ken and they soon began a relationship. As the pair grew closer, Val had to return home to Glasgow.

Valerie returned a year later when Ken looked her up while in Scotland and proposed to her. She accepted when he made it clear that he wasn't looking for a mother figure to replace Ida, as she initially feared. They got married at St. Mary's Parish Church on 4th August 1962, and took their honeymoon in London, which was paid for with the money Ken raised from selling his motorcycle.

Married life

The Barlows bought 9 Coronation Street and moved in when they returned from their honeymoon. At the time, Ken was teaching at Bessie Street School and Val had converted the front room of the house to a salon, earning extra income for the couple.

Married life was not always easy for Valerie. Ken's ambitions sometimes got the better of him - later in 1962 he wanted to give up teaching to focus on writing, meaning the pair would be relying on the money Val was bringing in. He later had a change of heart and stayed in teaching. Despite his commitment to her, Valerie often felt he had settled for second best. She was jealous of Ken's friendship with Christine Hardman, but Christine eventually got engaged to Ken's father, Frank, which shocked the family as Christine was many years younger than Frank. Val also felt out of her depth intellectually when the Barlows entertained Ken's middle-class friends. Val tried to make the relationship work, but Ken didn't make it easy, always pondering intellectual issues and oblivious to Valerie's troubles as she took care of the house.

In 1963, one of Ken's teaching friends, Dave Robbins, moved into the Barlows house as a lodger. Ken and Dave were putting their careers in jeopardy by giving a TV interview arguing for a school crossing after a pupil was knocked down in Bessie Street. At the last moment, Dave pulled out, and Ken lost out on a promotion as he gave the interview without the school's permission. Dave blamed himself for the child being hit, and was comforted by Valerie. As Ken despaired about losing the promotion, he told Valerie they shouldn't have got married, as Val didn't really understand him. When Ken next returned home, he realised Valerie had left him for Dave, but when he confronted the pair, it transpired Dave wasn't interested enough in Val to fight for her. Heartbroken, Val begged Ken to take her back, and he did. To help things get back to normal, the pair went on holiday.

Valerie in labour, 1965

In July 1964, Valerie found out she was pregnant. Ken was upset, but later realised he was thrilled by the news. To prepare for the birth, Val closed down the salon and converted it into a nursery. On 5th April 1965, Valerie went into labour and was driven to hospital in Len Fairclough's van. She gave birth to twins - a girl and a boy. The babies were christined at the same church Ken and Val got married in and were named Peter and Susan.

Ken and Val argue after the twins are nearly killed in a fire, 1965

Valerie's life changed completely as all her time went towards looking after the twins. She still had to pander to Ken's ego - he didn't have to change his lifestyle after becoming a father, and continued his intellectual pursuits. The Barlows had many friends in the Street, and could easily find babysitters, allowing Valerie to attend evening classes in Sociology. In November 1965, while Val was at a class, Ken was looking after the twins, but when he stepped out to the Rovers Return for a few minutes, a piece of coal fell from the fire, filling the house with smoke. Val returned home before Ken and put the fire out, but was outraged that he had left the babies alone while he went out to buy cigarettes. Val told Ken she would leave him if he ever smoked again.

In 1966, Ken had a fling with reporter Jackie Marsh, and was ready to leave Valerie for her, until he realized what a good thing he had in a wife who was willing to assume all the domestic responsibilities and wait on him hand and foot. Val briefly left him and returned to Glasgow with the kids, but returned when he phoned her and convinced her to return, intending to be a more devoted husband from then on.

The following year, Ken was arrested for attending an anti-Vietnam demonstration and chose to go to prison rather than admitting he was wrong by paying a £5 fine. Ken's principles were very important to him, but Valerie was disappointed that he chose his principles over his family, leaving Val to take care of the kids herself for a week. Valerie had considered paying the fine behind Ken's back, but couldn't bring herself to betray him.

The Maisonettes

In 1968, the Mission of Glad Tidings and Elliston's Raincoat Factory across the Street were torn down to make way for a block of Maisonettes. As they were being demolished, Ken and Val realised the twins were missing. They were found in the factory just before the wrecking ball hit - the parents were relieved.

Frank Riley keeps Val hostage, 1968

Val thought about reopening the Salon, now that the twins were more independent. Instead, she started working in the Corner Shop for Maggie Clegg. That year also saw a change of address for the Barlows; after seeing an artist's impression of the maisonettes, Valerie told Ken she wanted to move into one, as it had modern conveniences the 70-year-old Number 9 lacked. Ken didn't want to move, and when Valerie responded by making his life a little less comfortable, he accused her of having an affair with builder Ray Langton. Val was innocent, and made him feel guilty by reminding him of his affair with Jackie. Ken relented and the Barlows moved into Number 14.

Shortly after the family moved in, convict Frank Riley held Val at gunpoint while Ken was away. Valerie called for help by tapping an SOS on the pipes under the sink in the kitchen, with it fortunately being overheard by Ena Sharples, who found help. Riley, a convicted rapist, had demanded money and sex from Valerie, but was caught by the police before he got the chance. After it was over, Valerie told the police and Ken that Riley hadn't touched her, but Ken refused to believe her. This almost split the couple up.

In 1969, Val's mother Edith stayed with the Barlows, and tried to convince them to leave Weatherfield. When Edith took the twins out to the fair, she lost them, but they were found by an elderly woman who had taken them in and not contacted the family.

Valerie just before she is killed, 1971

Later that year, Alan Howard offered Valerie a job as head hairdresser at a new Salon, at £14 a week. Elsie Tanner had been appointed manageress, so she and Val fought for superiority. Ken had thoughts about buying the Salon from Alan, but when he chatted about it with Dave Smith, he later found out that Smith had usurped him and bought the Salon first. Smith initiated a wave of changes at the Salon, offering Valerie a pay rise but sacking other staff. Val walked out along with the remaining staff members, convincing Smith to reinstate everybody. In 1970, Ray Langton taught Valerie to drive while Ken was away on holiday. When he returned, he received a letter warning him about Val and Ray. It transpired that Emily Nugent had written it, but she realised she was wrong and apologised.

In the new year, Ken was offered a teaching position in Jamaica and Val agreed to emigrate. The residents of Coronation Street threw the pair a going-away party in the Rovers. Val was late getting ready, so while the party went on in the Rovers, Valerie tried to hurriedly get her hair dried. She tried to fix the plug to her hairdryer by tightening it with a screwdriver. Knowing it was still shoddy, she attempted to use it anyway. Val plugged it in and was given a severe electric shock which killed her instantly. As she fell to the floor, she knocked a portable heater into a packing crate and started a blaze. By the time rescue came, it was too late for Valerie.

Beyond the Grave

On the episode after her death, Ken looked through moments of his marriage with Valerie. Valerie is still mentioned by Ken time to time. When Deirdre had an affair with Mike Baldwin in 1983, Ken stated that things would of been different if Valerie was still alive.

In 2001, Susan Barlow was killed in a car accident and was buried next to Valerie.

In 2006, Ken visited Vals grave and placed flowers on the tombstone and shed a few tears.

In 2009, when Ken was having a relationship with Martha Fraser, she asked about Peter Barlow's mother, and Ken stated she was dead, but failed to tell her that he was re=married to Deirdre, which led Martha to feel sorry for him thinking that he had to cope by himself with Peter all that time.

Family and friends

Val and "Uncle Albert"

Valerie's immediate family were rarely seen on the Street. Albert Tatlock was her father's brother, and often visited Val and Ken. On the surface, Albert appeared to do nothing but complain when around Valerie, just as he did with the other residents, but even if he rarely showed it, he was very fond of her. When he stayed with the Barlows in 1967, Valerie was exhausted by tending to the twins and Albert, and was tired of him complaining all the time. She was ready to tell him to leave, but found that he had already left of his own free will and bought her flowers. After Val's death, Albert took an interest in Ken's love life, rather too much for Ken's liking, who accused him of screening his girlfriends as only "another Valerie Tatlock" would be good enough for him. Albert was such a fixture in the Barlows lives that even Ken started referring to him as "Uncle Albert" after a while.

Valerie's closest friend on the Street was Elsie Tanner, who she would often go to to vent her frustrations with Ken. Elsie was more worldly wise than Val, and more clued up on how "fellas" behaved, so they got on well. In 1963, Elsie thought Val had reported her for taking in Christine Hardman as a lodger, but Valerie was innocent (in fact it was Christine herself who had made the inquiry). When Elsie was getting married to Steve Tanner in 1967, Valerie warned him about messing Elsie about. When Steve was murdered the following year, Elsie used Val as her alibi - the police found out she had lied, and Elsie apologised for using Valerie. When Val died in 1971, Elsie was so devestated she didnt attend the funeral.

Valerie was also friends with Irma Barlow, Ken's brother David's wife. Being married to the Barlow brothers gave them a sort of kindship, even though they weren't very alike. In 1967, they swapped places for a week, with Irma looking after the children and Valerie tending to the Corner Shop. Both were annoyed that their husbands had been unusually helpful that week while they were away.

Hobbies and interests

In 1966, Ena Sharples taught Valerie to play the piano. It was a skill she rarely utilised. It was Valerie's idea to have a fancy dress party in the Mission Hall later that year. It was a huge success, and Valerie dressed up as Nell Gwyn.

Miscellaneous information

  • When the locals elected a local councillor in 1966, Valerie voted for Annie Walker.

See also

This article uses material from the "Valerie Barlow" article on the Coronation Street wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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