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Wednesday 20 June 2012

Corrie originals - Frank Pemberton as Frank Barlow

With thanks to John Tomlinson from Corriepedia, I have received some new information about Frank Pemberton, who played Frank Barlow on Coronation Street. Read the post to find out the latest info.

First appeared: 9th December 1960
Last appeared: 3rd February 1971

Frank Pemberton played the role of postman Frank Barlow between 1960 and 1964 and then in guest appearances in 1967 and 1971.

Born in Manchester in 1914, Pemberton was originally employed as an engineering apprentice before setting on becoming an actor. He made his television debut in Barbados Quest in 1955 and he appeared in various other programmes during the late 1950s including Champion Road (1958), Armchair Theatre (1959) and Hancock’s Half Hour (1957-1959).

But it was in late 1960 that he secured his most well-known role as 47 year old postie and head of the Barlow family Frank in new drama serial Coronation Street. He appeared in the very first episode and would remain a regular character until 1964. Married to Ida and father to Ken and David, he constantly clashed with son Ken over class. Amongst his storylines was facing widowhood when Ida was hit by a bus in 1961; leaving the Post Office and opening his own DIY shop; dating Corner Shop proprietor Florrie Lindley; and becoming engaged to Christine Hardman who was 26 years his junior. The engagement ended when local gossip proved too much. In 1964, he won £5000 on Premium Bonds and moved to Wilmslow in Cheshire.

In actual fact, the reason for Frank’s departure was the axing of the character by young producer Tim Aspinall, a 1960s version of Brian Park. Frank Pemberton was in a long line of actors who were sacked from the serial. Aspinall wanted to get rid of the dead-wood in the cast and unfortunately Pemberton was one of them. After his dismissal, Pemberton appeared in farce Firm Foundations alongside other axed members of the Corrie cast like Lynne Carol, Doreen Keogh and Ivan Beavis and then in Theatre 625 on the BBC. But two months later, in February 1965, he suffered a stroke. He did return to the Street for guest appearances in an episode in March 1967 when Frank gave Ken some advice; and then in an episode in February 1971 when Frank attended daughter-in-law Valerie’s funeral. In his final episode he was seen sitting down as Pemberton was recovering from a stroke and still had trouble with his legs.  In total, Pemberton appeared in 278 episodes.

Frank Pemberton died of a massive stroke at his home in Copthorne, Surrey a mere 7 weeks after his last appearance as Frank in 1971. He had told the Daily Mirror that his return in 1971 was a try out to see if he could make further appearances in the role. Sadly, it was not to be.

Pemberton was first married to Jean Marlow until their divorce in 1967. They had a daughter Penny. In 1968, he married Sheila Cook and they were married until his death.

Did you ever see or meet Frank Pemberton? Do you have any pieces of trivia about him?

Research from from Corriepedia and IMDB.
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Dolly Tubb said...

What a sad tale. I guess it shows that this 'habit' of characters just disappearing into the ether isn't new. I'm always surprised Ken never mentions his parents; Uncle Albert gets plenty of mentions but is family doesn't.

Nice blog, Llifon, I'm looking forward to all the other character reviews too.

njblas said...

According to Ken Irwin's book 'The Real Coronation Street', published in 1970, Frank was married to actress Jean Marlow, and they had a daughter called Penny, who was born just before Coronation Street started. Frank and Jean divorced around 1967, and he married a nursing sister called Sheila Cook in June 1968.

Llifon said...

That's very interesting njblas. It's great to get some trivia like that. :)

Llifon said...

Oh and thank you Dolly Tubb :)

Cobblestone said...

My earliest Corrie memory is the coach crash from 1970 (I was a toddler) so I don't remember Frank from way back, but I've watcghed many early episodes since and have to say I find him an unsympathetic and difficult-to-like character, unlike the lovely mumsy Ida. Still, 'drama is conflict' and Ken needed someone to rub up against. I'm not surprised he was let go, but I'm sorry to head actor Frank Pemberton had such a hard time after leaving. The pathos of dying in the dole queue after haivng been a household name!
Loving this series, Llifon, and look forward to the next one.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does he look incredibly similar to Peter Barlow?
I could have believed it was Peter's actual grandfather in that photo!

Anonymous said...

Blimey, yes he does look like Peters granddad, it's the eyes, how weird s that. Corrie always does a good job of matching relatives but this is spooky.


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