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Michael Vernon "Mike" Baldwin was a fictional character on the British television soap opera Coronation Streetmarker. He was portrayed by Johnny Briggs.

Background

Making his first appearance in 1976 as a Cockney businessman with an eye for the ladies, Mike was the son of an occasional character, Frank "Frankie" Baldwin, a former docker and cockney wideboy. Mike Baldwin became chiefly known for his ruthlessness in business and his string of ruined relationships. During his time on the show, Mike had 25 girlfriends and four wives.

Storylines

Mike's relationship with florist Maggie Dunlop foundered when she became pregnant, and she ended things with him when he refused to buy the florist's she worked in. She married Harry Redman shortly before the birth of her son, Mark. The Redmans moved away and Mike did not see Mark for years.

One major storyline involving Mike came in 1983 when he had an affair with Deirdre Barlow. Before her marriage to Ken Barlow, Deirdre had dated Mike, but decided Ken suited her better. When their marriage became jaded, she turned to Mike. After she had confessed everything to Ken, Mike turned up on the doorstep in the hope of taking her away, but she decided to stay with Ken. This event began the long-running feud between Mike and Ken.

Mike went on to marry Susan Barlow, Ken's daughter, who was many years his junior. This upset Ken further. The marriage failed, because Susan's career ambitions did not fit in with Mike's plans for the future. When she got pregnant, Mike wanted her to abandon her business; Susan decided to have an abortion, and moved to Newcastlemarker after just a year of marriage.

Mike's on/off relationship with Alma Sedgewick lasted the longest. It seemed to be over when he abandoned Alma to marry wealthy widow Jackie Ingram, who inherited a factory from her late husband, Peter (who had died of a heart attack during an argument with Mike). Jackie soon saw through him, and their marriage lasted just a week. Jackie threatened Mike with a shotgun if he did not get out of her sight.

A couple of years later, after Alma's relationship with now-divorced Ken Barlow failed because of her feelings for Mike, Mike and Alma finally married. Mike once again had his own business, the underwear factory Underworld. In 1998, Mike was seduced by Julia Stone, who blackmailed him for large sums of cash. When Alma discovered this, she left Mike; once they had divorced, she reverted to her maiden name of Halliwell. Unable to win Alma back, Mike settled with loud-mouthed machinist Linda Sykes, who was interested only in his money. His long-lost son, Mark Redman, turned up in Weatherfield, and Mike took him on at the factory as manager. However, on his wedding night, Mike found out that Mark and Linda had been having a steamy affair. At first, he blamed Mark.

Soon Mike enraged a jealous Linda by choosing to spend time with Alma, who was dying of cervical cancer. At this point, he realised he had made a mistake, marrying Linda. Following Alma's death, he ended his marriage to Linda, who slept with Mike's new business associate in revenge. She also caused a stir at Fred Elliott's wedding to her mother, Eve, and the pressure built on Mike as Mark reappeared for the celebration. Mike was spotted arguing with Linda, who mysteriously disappeared. Mike was arrested on suspicion of murder but Linda was discovered living in Irelandmarker with a new man.

In 2001, Ken revealed that his daughter, Susan, had a son, Adam, by Mike. Susan had been lying when she said she had terminated her pregnancy. As Mike began a fight for access to his son, Susan attempted to escape him again, but in her haste, she crashed her car on the motorway and was killed. Adam survived the crash and this led to a custody battle between Mike and Ken. Mike was awarded custody, but returned Adam to his boarding school in Scotlandmarker, where his friends were.

In 2004, Mike's nephew Danny, Danny's wife, Frankie, and their sons, Jamie and Warren, came to live in Weatherfield, where Danny helped Mike run the factory. Many long-time viewers did not like the addition of Danny and Frankie to the cast, as their existence had only been made possible by continuity error; Mike had long been portrayed as an only child and, adding confusion, Mike's father was also named Frankie). In late October 2005, viewers discovered that Danny was actually Mike's son, a result of a fling between Mike and his sister-in-law, Viv.

Towards the end of 2005, Mike was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, aged 63. He soon split from his girlfriend Penny King (the widow of a fellow factory owner), whom he had intended marrying. A further misunderstanding caused him to become estranged from Adam. Danny engineered sole inheritance of Mike's empire, egged on by his girlfriend Leanne Battersby.

Mike's last appearance was in the episode of 7 April 2006. He had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia, but escaped when Jamie left his side for a moment. Making it back to his factory in Coronation Streetmarker, he was found by his old rival Ken Barlow. Shortly afterwards, he collapsed and died in Ken's arms, after suffering a massive heart attack. He was 64 years old. His passing - like that of Alma, in 2001 - was respected with the theme tune not being played over the credits, though a continuity announcement was made.

His last words were 'You're finished Barlow, Deirdre loves me, she's mine.' Over the last few months of his life, he had been confusing the past and present: Alma, his beloved ex-wife who had died in 2001, was often mentioned, as was Bet Gilroy - he even broke into Bet's former home in 2006, to be confronted by the current resident, a surprised Les Battersby-Brown. He had also asked Rita Sullivan how her husband Len was; Len had died more than 20 years before.

Reception

Journalist Johann Hari, writing for The Independent heaped praise upon Mike's dementia storyline: "You can see some of these qualities in the storyline that has just stuttered to a close, the tale of the cracking and breaking of wide-boy Street stalwart Mike Baldwin into dementia and death. A soap can do Alzheimer's perfectly because it can draw on the collected memories of it audience in a way no other art form, except perhaps the epic novel, can. When Mike loses it and starts crying for Alma - the ex-wife who died years ago - we remember her too. When we see him breaking from his dementia-fever for a moment and asking his old flame Deirdrie to dance - an almost unimaginably sad scene, as he beams in mid-dance and says: 'This is lovely', while she quietly weeps over his shoulder - the performances are layered with literally decades of shared experience."

References


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