Barraclough began his career at an Isle of Wight holiday camp as a comic and pianist before treading the boards with rep companies in Huddersfield and Stoke, as well as Oldham's Coliseum Theatre. He even played piano for celebrated Northern comedienne Hylda Baker during this time, before teaming up in the late '60s with Les Dawson. The pair became famous for their much loved drag act of gossiping northern housewives 'of a certain age', Cissie and Ada; characters Dawson regularly showcased in his TV series across the 1970s and '80s.
Barraclough's association with the nation's longest running soap, Coronation Street, began in 1964 with the small role of a tour guide. He returned to the cobbles for some infrequent appearances as Alec Gilroy, Rita Littlewood's somewhat sleazy theatrical agent, in 1972 and '75, before becoming a regular character with the show in 1986. His character married brassy blonde barmaid Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) and the pair took over the Rovers Return. Barraclough left the show in 1998, his status as a legend in the soap's history firmly secured.
Life after the Street saw Barraclough with his own sitcom, Mother's Ruin, alas not a success, a recurring role in Sally Wainwright's Last Tango in Halifax and guest appearances in Last of the Summer Wine, Casualty and Peak Practice. He was last seen on our screens in the BBC revival of Are You Being Served? last year, playing Mr Grainger. He also enjoyed an enduring and acclaimed career on the stage with performances in everything from musicals such as Gypsy and The Boyfriend to dramas like Death of a Salesman and Spring and Port Wine.
He was the recipient of three Manchester Evening News theatre awards and a Liverpool Echo theatre award and, in 2006, was awarded an OBE for services to drama and charity in the North West.
He died today at the Willow Wood Hospice in Ashton-Under-Lyne, following a short illness.