|Born||4th July 1942|
|Died||8th April 1970|
|Spouse(s)||Irma Ogden (1965)|
|Children||Darren Barlow (1968)|
|First appearance||9th December 1960|
|Last appearance||10th April 1968|
|Duration||1960-1961, 1963, 1964-1968|
|Number of appearances||252|
|Played by||Alan Rothwell|
Born in 1942, David followed a very different career path from his elder brother Ken, getting his first major break as a professional footballer for Weatherfield County FC before transferring to a second division London team in 1961. He was forced to retire from football after tearing a ligament during a match in 1965, just weeks after marrying Irma Ogden.
David and Irma spent the next two years running the Coronation Street Corner Shop. Eventually, David yearned to resume his sports career and signed with an Australian team. Irma was already pregnant when they emigrated, and later that year she gave birth to their son, Darren. In 1970, David and Darren were fatally injured in a car crash.
1942-1960: Early lifeEdit
David Barlow was born on 4th July 1942 and spent his formative years at 3 Coronation Street, Weatherfield. No.3 had been home to the Barlows since 1938 and David was Frank and Ida's second-born after Kenneth in 1939.
For the first three years of David's life, postman Frank was away fighting in the war, and Ida raised the boys alone. Like any toddler, David got up to his share of mischief; when he was one, he unthreaded his cot blanket and stuck the wool up his nose, resulting in Ida rushing him to hospital where a doctor spent two hours pulling it all out.
David attended Bessie Street School and grew into a bright and affable lad. When he was old enough, he left school and started work at Ajax Engineering as an apprentice engineer. His first girlfriend was Linda Tanner from No.11. When Linda agreed to go out with him, David borrowed a friend's tandem and took her up to the hills, where he kissed her. The moment was spoiled when Linda told David that she and Christine Hardman were going out with two American servicemen from a nearby base. David remarked bitterly that Linda was turning into her mother, who according to some had "entertained more Yanks in the war than the Hollywood Canteen". They never dated again and David received a slap across the face for his troubles.
1961-1965: Football careerEdit
In 1961, David was still working at Ajax but he wanted to pursue a career in football. He played on the firm's football team and in March of that year he signed for Weatherfield County FC. In his first match, he scored the only goal. He was one of the team's best players and in June a second division London team wanted to transfer David and offered £1,000 to sign him. David left Weatherfield to play for the team and didn't return until 1963, except for a brief trip up for Ida's funeral which he watched from afar. By 1963, he was quite well off financially and didn't fit in with the locals.
1965-1967: Irma and the shopEdit
David was off the field again in April after tearing a ligament, and stayed with Albert Tatlock so he could date Irma Ogden, who he started seeing during his previous visit. By now, Frank had moved away, and Ken was David's only family in the area. David announced he was retiring from football but took a job as player coach for Weatherfield Athletic. He was also contracted to write for a football gossip column in Weatherfield Advertiser.
Fun-loving Irma was flattered by David's interest in her and was receptive to his advances. He wanted to move the relationship to the next level and asked her to marry him when the street residents went a trip to the Blue John Mines. Irma accepted.
David had big plans for them to move to Cheshire and Irma's parents were keen for her to have a well-off lifestyle as the Ogdens had always struggled with money. Irma's parents were an old-fashioned couple and Stan Ogden hit Irma when he found David in Irma's bedroom. David convinced Irma they should marry quietly and without telling their families, but everybody found out anyway and surprised them by showing up for a reception.
While playing at a charity football match, David was injured and rushed to hospital, where he was told by the Doctor that he wouldn't be able to play football again. The newlyweds had to cancel their plans to buy a house as he couldn't continue at the club. His football career over, he considered a factory job but hesitated as it was such a step down. Irma convinced him it might be a better idea to buy the Corner Shop in Coronation Street as owner Lionel Petty was selling. At first he was too proud to accept living in Coronation Street, which caused a brief split between him and Irma. Ken's wife Val talked David round, telling him marriage is sometimes difficult and he has to put the effort in.
David had trouble getting to know the Ogdens. In 1966, Irma left the shop to work in the PVC factory across the street as shop work bored her, and David was lumbered with free-loading Hilda Ogden as shop assistant. David was never happy in the shop as it was typically where the women of the Street went to share gossip. Irma soon returned to work in the shop.
1967-1970: A new start and a tragic endEdit
Irma told David she wanted to have a baby. She got pregnant the same year, but had a miscarriage. David reminded Irma that they could try again but Irma was devastated and was convinced this meant she couldn't have children. David was fraught about how to make Irma happy, and went to an adoption agency to see if that was an option for them. David still hoped Irma would change her mind but at Christmas the couple fostered Jill Morris for a few days.
In 1968, David was rapidly growing tired of the shop, and aspired to return to football, still being young enough to have a good career ahead of him. Despite his earlier injury, he played a game, and his leg was fine. He took this as a sign that he might just be able to return to the sport full-time, for a team in Australia, but Irma was dead against it - the prospect of living somewhere where they didn't know anyone appealed to David much more than it did to Irma. However, when David was offered the position he wanted he took it and set about selling the shop. To interest potential buyers, he had an article published in the Gazette but the article made it seem as though David and Irma were emigrating because streets like Coronation Street were beneath them. Maggie Clegg eventually bought the shop.
David and his brother Ken Barlow had something in common - they both married someone who wasn't much like them at all. Ken and his wife Valerie had many more ups and downs than David and Irma, and Ken usually ignored David's advice when it was offered. As a teacher who put his principles above his family sometimes, Ken was even willing to go to prison for seven days in 1967 by joining a student demo and refusing to pay a fine after being caught by the police. David and Val considered paying the fine behind Ken's back but Val refused as it would undoubtably be a massive betrayal to Ken.
Despite their different interests the brothers got along well.
- David was godfather to Ken and Val's twins, Peter and Susan Barlow, born 1965.
- David helped out when a train crashed through the viaduct in 1967. He was the one who rescued Ena Sharples.
Creation and castingEdit
David was one of the original characters of Coronation Street, appearing in the first episode. In the early planning stages, Ken Barlow had a sister named Enid, who was not an early version of David but a separate character who lived at No.7 with her husband Harold. In the final dry run scripts, Ken was the only Barlow child to appear; it is likely that Enid and Harold had been dropped by this stage. Further rewrites took place after the pilots were shot, incorporating feedback from producers and Granada's top executives. Tony Warren was asked by bosses to give the programme a male teenage presence and David Barlow was the result.
Oldham-born Alan Rothwell was one of the last actors cast for the new serial. Rothwell had worked extensively on radio as a child actor, appearing in plays with Tony Warren, Doris Speed and Violet Carson. He later worked at Oldham Rep (with William Roache) and spent a year at RADA before doing his National Service. He came to the casting directors' attention when he appeared on television in Love on the Dole, adaptation of Walter Greenwood's novel set in working class Salford. His performance in the BBC drama led to him being offered the role of David Barlow without an audition: "People at Granada saw it and offered me a part in Coronation Street. They offered me David Barlow straight from that." (The Coronation Street Story, Boxtree Ltd, 1995)
Rothwell left Coronation Street in June 1961 in order to pursue another role. He was the first cast member to leave the programme. Rothwell: "At the end of six months I asked to be written out because Associated Rediffusion were doing a detective thing called Top Secret, which was set in South America, and they were looking for somebody to play the main detective sidekick. I was chosen for that. It was before the Equity strike." (50 Years of Coronation Street: The (very) Unofficial Story, JR Publications, 2010) Top Secret was cancelled after one season due to the Equity actors' strike.
David was frequently mentioned after his departure, notably returning to Weatherfield for his mother Ida Barlow's funeral in September 1961 despite remaining off-screen. Rothwell returned to the part for two episodes in June 1963 and again for six episodes over Christmas 1964. With Episode 456 on 26th April 1965, Rothwell re-joined Coronation Street as a full-time cast member. He quit again in 1968: "I had never wanted to be in the same thing for ever and eventually in the Street I became unhappy... I couldn't continue to play the same part." (The Coronation Street Story) His last appearance was in Episode 764 on 10th April 1968.
Once again, David's story continued off-screen; the birth of his son Darren was announced later in 1968 and his wife Irma, who had been written out with David, returned for three weeks over Christmas 1969. Producers hoped to follow this up by bringing the family back full-time. Sandra Gough, who played Irma, signed a new contract but Rothwell was unable to commit to the same as he was busy with theatre work. Writers took the decision to kill off both David and the unseen Darren in a car crash so that Irma could return from Australia without any ties. Rothwell took the news of his character's death on the chin: "I was a bit surprised and a bit sad. Not too much. I saw what the reason was and I thought, 'That's fair enough'. I'd always been able to run back if things got tight." (50 Years)
First and last linesEdit
|London||June 1961 to April 1965|
|1 Coronation Street||26th April to 13th December 1965|
|17 Attlee Street||13th December 1965 to January 1966|
|Corner Shop||January 1966 to 10th April 1968|
|Adelaide, Australia||10th April 1968 to 8th April 1970|
|Engineer||Ajax Engineering||1950s to 21st June 1961|
|Footballer||Weatherfield County FC||March to June 1961|
|Footballer||London team||June 1961 to April 1965|
|Player coach||Weatherfield Athletic||2nd June 1965 to December 1965|
|Sports and social officer||Weatherfield Athletic||2nd June 1965 to December 1965|
|Owner||Corner Shop||January 1966 to April 1968|
|Footballer||Australian team||April 1968 to April 1970|
|Ken Barlow | Frank Barlow | Ida Barlow | David Barlow | Jack Walker | Annie Walker | Elsie Tanner | Dennis Tanner | Linda Cheveski | Ivan Cheveski | Harry Hewitt | Lucille Hewitt | Concepta Riley | Ena Sharples | Minnie Caldwell | Martha Longhurst | Albert Tatlock | Christine Hardman | Florrie Lindley | Esther Hayes | Leonard Swindley|