Deirdre's final farewell will be on the show next week, here's an interview with William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street.
With Deirdre heading back to the Street, Ken’s planning a surprise party – how’s he feeling about her return?
Ken is thrilled to bits that she’s coming back, he’s really excited and he’s got this surprise 60th birthday party all arranged to celebrate. Then of course there’s this big shock, when their friend Bev arrives to announce the tragic news that Deirdre has passed away.
Does the news that Deirdre’s died come completely out of the blue?
It is totally and absolutely out of the blue, and in complete contrast to what we were expecting, so it is a terrible shock.
How does Ken react? Is he initially in shock?
When something really big happens, you don’t do anything. You are dumbstruck, literally - bang. If it’s something as awful as that, you don’t scream, you don’t shout, you don’t cry, you are just literally struck dumb. So that’s how I played it. Then there are some lovely scenes with Bev where it unfolds and she talks about how Deirdre died, which was was very peacefully, so that’s a blessing for Ken. Then of course it moves into a phase where Ken can’t understand why she stayed away so long. The funeral is coloured by what Bev tells him about why Deirdre stayed away so long, which he thought was himself. He thought she’d gone off him, found another man, or something like that. But it turns out the reason she stayed away was because of Tracy’s awful behaviour, she was so embarrassed about Tracy having the affair with Tony and upsetting her best friend Liz.
Does that make Ken angry with Tracy?
When he hears the real reason she stayed away he gets very angry, because he has been deprived of the last few weeks and months of life with the person he loves, Deirdre, all because Tracy misbehaved. So he has this double emotion to deal with, tremendous grief at the loss of Deirdre, and colossal anger at Tracy. The denying him those last few weeks. So all through the funeral, he’s got this mixed feeling, anger at Tracy and grief at having lost Deirdre, and also the added grief at not having been with her at the end in the last few weeks of her life. So it gives it another dimension at the funeral.
Does Ken break down at any point?
Ken isn’t the sort of person who shows his emotions. For most of it, he’s on the verge of tears but he’s just keeping it under the surface. However then there comes a point where he’s given her glasses. As an actor Ken is given the glasses of Deirdre, which is highly emotive as glasses are very personal, they’re very close to the person, but of course when I got the glasses, they were also Anne’s. Anne had worn those glasses for twenty years, so there was a complete merger for me, there was no Bill and Ken and Deirdre and Anne, it was just one. I felt the loss of both. From an acting point of view it made it totally simple and totally believable and very easy to play. From the grieving and sadness point of view, it made it totally real. It was the only time there is a blurring of the edges between the character and the actor - it was just one, it became complete oneness, which is interesting and helpful.
When you played the scenes after the funeral around the Barlows table with Peter and Tracy there was a lot of emotion, was it confusing at times?
I just dropped the confusion and I found instead of trying to think of it, and think of the confusion, let it be, and let it be one. And it was one. It was the only time, ever, that you could say that Ken and Bill are the same: that was the moment that it was so. It was really, really interesting from that point of view.
Was it nice to have Chris Gascoyne back filming and to do those scenes going over the Barlows’ troubled history with Chris and Kate?
It was wonderful to have Chris back. I love Chris dearly, he’s such a good actor, and such a beautiful person. There was a lot of sad, but sort of joyful moments, heart-warming moments that have come out of those scenes and from having Chris back. I think, from Annie’s point of view, she’s had a wonderful send off, both as a person in the memorial service, and from the story that plays out on screen. Everybody loves Annie, they really did, and the stories show and respect that. It was good to play.
After the funeral there are some classic Barlow scenes where everyone’s rowing – can you tell us a bit about what happens?
Well, it is classic Barlow really, nothing ever goes smoothly and the funeral is no exception. So really Ken has three things going on, which is quite tricky; he’s got the grief of losing Deirdre, the anger at Tracy, and then his son Peter doesn’t turn up when he’s meant to be a pallbearer. So poor old Ken’s trying to think of his eulogy and he’s got all those mixed feelings going on. But that’s good; it’s good writing and a good story, it gives it a three-dimensional aspect.
The row leads to a lot of conversations about the past and Deirdre. Are the issues resolved between them by the end? Are the Barlows almost brought back together by their grief?
It’s very interesting and it’s what is great about the Street itself. It goes back so far, it draws on its own history. So when we have a row, it isn’t a row just about the situation, you draw on all that’s gone on in the past. Ken has always got at Tracy for her behaviour, quite rightly, and so that all comes out. He really goes at her; how she never listens, she never cares, brought her misfortunes on her own head, and I say awful things to her in the church. Deirdre spent a lot of time trying to excuse Tracy’s behaviour, which was inexcusable, so it causes a lot of grief for her and that makes Ken very angry. It was an exploration that went into the relationships between Ken, Peter and Tracy, and Peter and Tracy as well. Whether it’s sorted by the end and they can accept that nobody’s perfect you’ll have to wait and see. Ken hasn’t behaved well, Peter hasn’t behaved well, Tracy hasn’t behaved well. So at the end of it hopefully they can come out more cleansed, as it were, maybe clear the air a bit.
How do you think Ken and Tracy are going to get on living together?
Deirdre was always in the middle sorting them out. She was always the only one who defended Tracy totally. Ken would go at her, but Deirdre defended her. At the moment there’s peace, probably Ken and Tracy are closer than they’ve ever been, for the time being anyway [laughs]. For how long that will be, I don’t know.
On top of this, Tracy’s ex husband Robert arrives. Is Ken aware he’s present at the funeral?
I don’t know if Ken’s aware of that at the funeral, but he certainly comes home, and he’s there. He comes home after the funeral to find Tracy and Robert on the sofa - ‘cavorting’ is the word he uses - which is not really appropriate on the day of his wife’s funeral. He’s very cross, he tells Robert to get out and he doesn’t want to see him again, so it’s not a good start for Robert.
What were his feelings about Robert in the past? Did Ken like him?
Ken didn’t know much about Robert because Tracy was living away when it all happened. I don’t think Ken had any particular feelings about Robert from the past, but seeing him in his living room when he comes home from his wife’s funeral, cavorting on the sofa with Tracy, that is not on. So Robert does not get off on the right foot.
Can you give us a hint about what’s coming up for the Barlows?
There’s lots more exciting things coming up for the Barlows. We’ve got Robert turning up chasing Tracy, then we’ve also got Simon misbehaving. Simon’s not very happy when his Dad comes and then goes again. Simon’s showing signs of his troubled upbringing, it’s not surprising, any child brought into the Barlow household is bound to suffer some deep psychological scarring! I think it’s good that they’re showing he’s got some scarring, because you can’t come through what he has unscathed. He’s lost his mother, he’s seen his father drunk, he’s been through so much, it’s bound to have an effect. I think it’s very good that we’re exploring that. Then there’s also little Amy, on the other hand, who is coming out as quite a little tough character. She’s becoming a mini-Blanche, which I think is great too, because that strength would mean it’s her way of dealing with all the awful things that have happened. It’s good stuff.
Do you enjoy working with the youngsters who play Simon and Amy?
They’re both brilliant. They’re so sweet. They come up after scenes and say ‘Well done’ and give you a hug. Alex is a dear little lad, and little Ellie, she’s wonderful.
See also the following as we get ready to say goodbye to Deirdre Barlow:
Interview with Kate Ford (Tracy Barlow) on saying goodbye to her on-screen mum
Interview with Corrie scriptwriter Damon Rochefort on writing out a legend from the show
Deirdre to die on her 60th birthday, July 8 2015.
Peter Barlow and Bev Unwin are returning.
Coronation Street build their own graveyard to film Deirdre's funeral
Tracy's ex-husband Robert Preston returns.
The funeral has been written by scriptwriter Damon Rochefort
Deirdre's death has been explained here.
Download our App | Follow on Twitter @CoroStreetBlog | Like on Facebook
All original work on the Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License
Our Top 10 Blog Posts in last 7 days (automatically updated)
Next week on Coronation Street, Weatherfield County football player Tommy Orpington will tun up on the show. He hires Michelle as his wed...
Actor Marc Anwar, who plays Sharif Nazir, was fired yesterday by ITV. It's in all the media, but using the Radio Times as a source, h...
Rosie Webster is to returning to the cobbles - five years after leaving Weatherfield. Actress Helen Flanagan is to reprise the role sh...
Oh, hell-o-o-o! Actor Matt Milburn is joining Coronation Street, says this week's TV Times magazine. Matt played vet Nicky Pritchar...
Well, that was a shock! Poor Ken! Just when we get the lovely Peter Barlow back on Coronation Street, Ken collapses. But will he surviv...
Brooke Vincent, who plays Sophie Webster in Coronation Street, is now on a three-month absence from work. She's currently starring in ...
Sad news for Coronation Street fans worldwide, actress Jean Alexander has passed away days after her 90th birthday. Often described as ...
Coronation Street producer Kate Oates has been revealing some major spoilers for winter 2016. And so, with help from Inside Soap magazine...
Here is our updated list of those characters and actors we know about who are joining, returning or leaving the show. RETURNING Helen ...
Here's a preview picture from Coronation Street to be shown on Monday 17 October 2016. When Peter Barlow turns up back in Weatherf...
Click on a name to find out more about your Corrie favourites!
aidan connor alan halsall alex bain alison king alison sinclair all about soap awards amy barlow amy kelly andrea beckett andrew paul andy carver andy whyment anna windass anne kirkbride antony cotton audrey roberts awards barbara knox barlows battleaxes becky mcdonald behind the scenes ben price ben tagoe bet gilroy bet lynch beth tinker bethany platt betty driver betty turpin betty williams betty's hotpot bev callard bev unwin beverley callard bill roache bill tarmey billy mayhew billy the vicar blanche hunt brooke vincent bruno langley Callum Logan can i visit the coronation street set Canada canadian coronation street fans cardy o'donnell carla barlow carla connor carmel morgan catherine tyldesley cathy matthews celebrities on coronation street characters joining coronation street characters leaving coronation street charlie condou cherylee houston chesney brown chris fewtrell chris gascoyne claire king classic corrie clothes worn on coronation street colson smith competition conversation street coronation street art coronation street fan events coronation street fan of the week coronation street fans coronation street funerals coronation street history coronation street in canada coronation street look-a-like coronation street map coronation street men coronation street merchandise coronation street news coronation street spoilers Coronation Street The Tour coronation street weekly update coronation street weekly updates coronation street writers craig charles damon rochefort daran little david neilson david platt debbie oates debbie rush deirdre barlow deirdre hunt deirdre Langton deirdre perm deirdre rachid Dennis Tanner dev alahan eileen derbyshire eileen grimshaw ellie-louise leach elsie tanner emily bishop emily nugent ena sharples exclusive interview famous people who have been in corrie fat brenda faye windass fiz brown fiz stape flaming nora florizel street flying ducks gail hillman Gail McIntyre gail platt gail potter gail rodwell gail tilsley gary windass gary's army diaries gay and lesbians gay men in coronation street gay men in soaps gay women in soaps granada manchester coronation street set granada studios gurn of the week helen worth hilda ogden hilda ogden's curlers Hope Stape hot pot how to contact coronation street inside soap magazine izzy armstrong jack and vera duckworth jack p shepherd jane danson jane danson's husband jason grimshaw jennie mcalpine jigsaw jimmi harkishin job vacancies at coronation street julie carp julie goodyear julie hesmondhalgh julie jones julie walters kabin karen mcdonald kate ford katherine kelly kathy jones katie mcglynn Katy Cavanagh ken barlow kevin webster kim crowther kirk sutherland kylie platt kylie turner kym marsh kym ryder leanne barlow leanne battersby leanne tilsley leanne's real mother les dennis lisa george liz mcdonald lloyd mullaney maggie jones malcolm hebden maria connor maria gordon maria sutherland mark llewellin maxine's bench michael le vell michelle connor mikey north mikey north miley windass minnie caldwell Morrissey mothers on the cobbles new set newton and ridley nick tilsley nick's bistro nigel pivaro no.1 Coronation Street no.11 coronation street no.13 coronation street no.3 coronation street no.5 coronation street no.6 coronation street no.7 coronation street no.9 coronation street norris cole norris cole's brother nuttalls brewery odd side of the street official coronation street website oldham coliseum on location outside broadcast paddy mcguinness pat phoenix patti claire patti clare paula lane peter barlow peter gunn pets on coronation street phil collinson Philip Lowrie pickled jo pictures of the coronation street set pigeons pillars of the community platt family props qasim akhtar returning characters rita fairclough rita littlewood rita sullivan road to coronation street rovers bosses rovers fire rovers return rovers return barmaids rovers return fire rovers return landlady roy and hayley roy cropper roys rolls ryan thomas sally webster sally and tim sally dynevor sally webster sally whittaker sam aston samia smith sarah platt schmeichel sean tully simon barlow simon crowther simon gregson sinead tinker sophie webster state of the street steve mcdonald storyline speculation storylines streetcars stuart blackburn stuffed marrow sue cleaver sue johnston sue nicholls sylvia cropper sylvia goodwin terence maynard terry duckworth the corrie years the kabin the road to coronation street through the years tina mcintyre todd grimshaw tony warren Tony Warren inspiration tours of coronation street tracy barlow trafford set tram crash tricia hopkins tyrone dobbs underworld underworld sign unofficial book vera duckworth victoria court fire walking tours weatherfield weatherfield arms weatherfield council weatherfield county weatherfield county football club weatherfield fire station weatherfield gazette weatherfield haulage Weatherfield Open Days weatherfield style weatherfield wayfarer wedding wedding dress weddings weekly awards weekly update where have you seen william roache William Roache Interview window cleaners writers for soaps