Wednesday, 13 April 2016

What's in a Name?

Stumbling upon an episode of daytime drama Doctors just now, I immediately found myself crying out 'Oh, it's Ken Barlow's brother' as veteran actor Alan Rothwell appeared on the screen.

It's a familiar call in our house whenever the character actor appears on our screens - which is quite often, as he's still rather prolific at 79 years young - and is usually followed up by 'Ooh, remember Picture Box?' a Granada children's mainstay which he presented throughout the '70s and '80s.

Indeed, so familiar are these choruses that it was only last year I made a concerted effort to commit poor Mr Rothwell's name to memory. Yet still I can't help myself; he shall be forever greeted with 'Oh, it's Ken Barlow's brother...Ooh, remember Picture Box?'

It occurred to me how silly this was today. Rothwell last appeared in Coronation Street as David Barlow, Ken's younger footballing brother in 1968, when he and his family emigrated to Australia. Two years later, Ken got the news that David and his son died in a car crash, leaving his wife Irma a widow. So that's forty-eight years since Rothwell last appeared in Corrie, and forty-six since his character was truly relevant. I wasn't even born when he was in the soap - and to my knowledge I've never seen him in the role. Yet - despite regular appearances in other long running soaps and dramas like Brookside, Emmerdale and Heartbeat - he'll forever be known as Ken Barlow's brother. To us at least.


  1. I'm exactly the same with Anne Reid. She's been acting since the late 1950s, was given an MBE in 2010, hasn't graced the cobbles since 'dying' in January 1971 and yet whenever I see her pop up in something, my first thought is...'ooh look, it's Valerie Barlow..'

    1. Yup, she's definitely another too, and invariably earns a 'electrocuted herself drying her hair' comment from my folks! I haven't watched Corrie in yonks but have caught little bits every so often in recent years and noticed a certain creeping knowing self referential wit when it comes to the Barlows; Tracy announced that their family were never lucky "My dad's first wife electrocuted herself!" in one ep, whereas in another Liz McDonald cheerily attested to the fact that it was none other than Ken Barlow himself who screamed 'Judas!' at Bob Dylan when he went electric at Manchester's Free Trade Hall!

    2. If that Liz McDonald 'quote' is true, Corrie has gone up tenfold in my estimation! Brilliant.

    3. It was a brilliant moment, really funny and just so 'right'