Millions of viewers were shocked tonight when Ken was discovered unconscious at the bottom of the stairs and the presumption was he had suffered another stroke.
But as his family gather round his hospital bedside in Wednesday night’s episode they are given the shock news that the police are launching an attempted murder investigation, after discovering evidence that Ken was hit on the head and pushed down the stairs.
So who did try to kill Ken? The police have a list of suspects which includes a murderer, a drug dealer, a former alcoholic and a student with a history of violence, and that’s just his family! Add in a builder with a grudge and a young girl who blames Ken for her aborting her baby and the cops are going to have their work cut out.
Will Detective Sergeant MacKinnon discover that Ken has fallen out with every member of his family in the weeks preceding the attack? Will she find out about the row with Phelan over the new kitchen he is fitting at number one and will Sinead be able to keep her recent meeting with Ken a secret.
As the police investigation progresses MacKinnon soon realises that the Barlow clan have many skeletons in their closet and any one of them could be responsible for the attempted murder. But with Phelan being the person found stood over Ken could he in fact be the attacker? Meanwhile Beth is growingly increasingly concerned at the behaviour of niece Sinead who is very outspoken about her hatred of Ken.
Adam feels marginalised and pushed out by Ken who he believes favours his children over him, seeing him more as the son of his arch enemy Mike Baldwin, than his grandson and his own flesh and blood. In the weeks leading up to attack on Ken the pair have become completely estranged. Ken discovered Adam’s stash of cash and burned it leaving Adam as a sitting duck for drug dealer , Ronan, who had demanded the money back. When Adam was beaten half to death, for not having the money to hand over, Ken visited his grandson his hospital. However far from being a caring grandfather he told Adam it would be better if he left Weatherfield and went back to Canada. Ken subsequently told the family Adam had left to follow up a job opportunity
As far as the family are concerned Adam is in Canada but he was seen by viewers skulking around by the salon before boarding a bus out of town without being seen by anyone. Was he back in Weatherfield to seek revenge for Ken washing his hands of him?
Phelan is fuming with Ken after he accused him of doing a botched job on the Barlows kitchen, claiming Phelan should be grateful for the work when most people would not give him the time of day. Seething, Phelan was heard venting his spleen in the Rovers, shocking Todd and Billy with the strength of his anger. Phelan hates being criticised by anyone, has he seen red and pushed Ken?
Phelan was found by Daniel standing over an unconscious, lifeless Ken in the Barlows hallway. He claimed he had just walked in but was Phelan there minutes earlier to deliver the deadly blow? With no alibi Phelan could be top of the police’s suspect list.
Peter has always had a fractious relationship with his father and the two have rarely seen eye to eye. Growing up Peter felt abandoned by Ken and felt he was a disappointment to him. Despite Peter turning over a new leaf and cleaning up his act before his return to Weatherfield last year it seems Ken is still all too ready to believe the worst of his eldest child. In recent weeks viewers have seen Ken horrified by Peter’s plans to buy the Rovers leaving Peter feeling belittled by his father. Things reached a head when Ken believed Chloe’s lies about Peter and her being together and him being back on the bottle. Ken told Toyah what he had learned which resulted in her dumping Peter and going back to husband Toby. Left with nothing has Ken pushed Peter to the brink?
Having accused Ken of wrecking his life Peter helped himself to a bottle of whiskey from the Rovers and headed back to his flat where he stared temptation in the eye. Having reached a decision he smashed the bottle to smithereens before slamming out of the flat. Did Peter attack Ken before then packing his bags and preparing to leave Weatherfield just as Toyah returned?
Heartache has been at the centre of Sinead and Daniel’s relationship and the course of love has been a rocky road of disapproval from family and neighbours amid a baby bombshell. Sinead was preparing to play happy families with Daniel until she bore the brunt of Ken’s rage after the Oxford Uni celebration party at the Bistro. Accusing her of stifling Daniel’s university dream, Ken insisted that she was nothing more than a factory girl. Weatherfield’s Romeo and Juliet failed to get their happy ending when Sinead confessed to Daniel that she went ahead with an abortion in a bid to give him his golden Oxford opportunity, much to his disgust. Later, through tears, Sinead revealed to Beth that it was Ken’s wrath that prompted her final decision. With her heart in tatters and her head a whirlpool of Ken’s wicked words, could Sinead be the guilty one?
A heartbroken Sinead was drunk and devastated as she hammered on the door of No. 1 Coronation Street, looking for Daniel. Getting no answer, did Sinead get in another way and come face to face with the man who she blames for forcing her to abort her child?
Tracy has got more than one motive for wanting to kill Ken and let’s face it she has got form, having previously murdered Charlie Stubbs. Tracy was appalled when she overheard Ken ranting at Sinead about his wasted life with her mum Deirdre. When Ken then refused to lend her the money to buy the flower shop premises she was fuming and rowed with Ken, accusing him of putting his real kids before her and daughter, Amy. Tracy also found Ken’s will at the Barlows. Tracy is always at her worst when she feels the world is against her, has this cocktail of disappointment served by Ken pushed a vengeful Tracy to want to kill once more?
Tracy was at the Community Centre talent show with boyfriend, Luke, all set to watch her daughter Amy perform her violin recital. But when Amy went missing just before her performance Luke and Tracy left to search the street for Amy. Did Tracy sneak away for a few minutes in order to have it out with her father, resulting in them coming to blows.
He can’t remember a thing, he remembers pretty much up to it, he remembers the morning of the day quite clearly beyond that nothing that would give him a hint that he was pushed or who might have done it.
What’s his reaction when the police suggest a family member could have pushed him?
He is horrified, absolutely horrified and very frightened, there is a moment when he looks at them all and is terrified as it could be any one of them because he has had rows with all of them. To find that it could be someone who is very very close to you is very frightening. It really does upset him and he can't remember. He is deeply hurt that a member of his family might want to kill him, that really hurts.
Does he really believe any of them are capable of doing such a thing?
He is put into a position where he does because of events leading up to it, It is very cleverly done with the storyline that he has got everybody’s back up, he is frail and wouldn't be thinking too clearly so he is in a position where he could believe it possible.
No not straight away, he follows the police inquiry and each time he goes along with what they discover and tries to work out himself if each person could be responsible. That is why he stays with Roy as he is totally confused and extremely upset. As each one is arrested he thinks ‘it could be that person.’
How much does he tell the police about his previous fallings out with his family? Is he honest about what has been going on?
All he tells them is that he doesn’t remember, he doesn’t drop anyone in it or give any indication that there has been any falling out - the police glean that from various other people along the way.
Why does he end up refusing to see any members of his family?
He is so scared, it has been put into his mind that it must be somebody close. If a suspicion is put into your mind and you are a bit frail and sick the paranoia would be huge, he is going through each of them in his mind and with each one there is a possible motive, an argument he has had which could have triggered it.
He is no longer in the safety of the hospital so when Roy comes to collect him he doesn’t want to go home, he is really genuinely frightened, he is upset paranoid very frail and frightened. He is delighted that Roy offers.
Does he have anyone else around to help and support him?
Roy has come to the rescue and he totally understands how Ken is feeling so Ken is grateful that he has his support.
How will this affect his relationship with his family going forward?
I think he is very ready to try and build bridges. He knows that it is not all of them, if it is a member of the family it is only one of them so more than anything he wants to know who it is. There are of course other people the police are looking at such as Phelan and of course Sinead has a motive. Ken would love nothing more than it not to be a family member but whilst the suspicion is there it is very difficult for him. He wants clarity, it is the unknown that is frightening him. He actually says although it is painful for him he would like to know sooner rather than later who it is so he can start to build bridges with his family.
What was your reaction when you first heard that somebody would try to bump off Ken?
Haha well my first thought was ‘are they trying to write me out’ that was my question to Kate [Kate Oates is the producer of Coronation Street]. But once I knew Ken would recover I was thrilled with the storyline. Strong stories are great to do, as an actor they are very enjoyable. I have always liked the idea of having this strong family, one of the oldest families all together again and when i did that first scene with the boys and Peter after the stroke I felt this power of a male family. Almost mafia like. It occurred to me that I wanted to remain head of the family and have great stories and this is what is happening.
Were you told from the start who it would be? Or have you been left to guess like the rest of us?
No we didn’t know and only now, some weeks on from filming a lot of the story and as we get closer to finding out in scripts, have we been made aware. It was great to play it like that and all of the suspects were told to behave as though they were guilty or hiding something and they didn’t know. It was fun to be part of the secrecy and to act out the story not knowing the truth. I hope the viewers enjoy trying to work out who it could be in the same way that we all did. It is very cleverly done and I am thrilled to bits with it.
What’s it been like for you having so many members of the Barlow clan around you?
Wonderful, a whole new dynamic for Ken. His stories have always been female orientated, about his relationship with different women now he is right in the middle of this very powerful family feeling. To be masterminding a little gang of the boys and Tracy. A very complex group of individuals each with their own issues and foibles.
How does it feel to still be very much at the heart of the action after all these years on the cobbles?
It is a great compliment and I do appreciate it very much, I want to be able to do it justice and to be able to continue to be part of the action. The boys who came back immediately fitted in, it could have been something that could make an older actor concerned having all these new younger actors around but for me it has meant I have been given some amazing storylines and out be back at the centre.
What would you like to see happen to Ken next?
I would like him to become the natural wise leader the patriarch of his new family a respected elder statesmen who wouldn’t do the footwork or physical work of anything but would be the mastermind behind the family. They will still infight but if anyone attacks them from the outside they will close ranks and woe betide them.