Coronation Street fans in shock as Ken Barlow quits the cobbles after 60 years
8 February 2020, 16:55
Viewers were left reeling after the iconic character revealed the surprise news during the show's 10,000th episode last night.
Coronation Street's Ken Barlow announced he was quitting the cobbles after 60 years last night to move into a luxury retirement flat with his girlfriend Claudia Colby.
The iconic character, played by 87-year-old actor Bill Roache, is planning to pack his bags and relocate from the famous street with his pensioner partner – despite spending his entire life in Weatherfield.
During Friday's one-hour special, which marked the soap's 10,000th episode, Ken looked back over his life and eventually declared he was selling his house to buy a swish new apartment complex away from his friends and family.
In an emotional scene with his dog, Eccles, he said: "80 years too late. But finally it’s time to go. Goodbye old friend."
The poignant line came as a complete surprise to viewers who took to social media to share their shock and confusion with one another.
“Wait what?! Ken Barlow leaving??? #CoronationStreet,” one confused fan wrote on Twitter.
A second wrote: “So Ken’s leaving @itvcorrie Awwwww. Longest-serving cast member. You will be missed #KenBarlow #CoronationStreet."
"Bravo #CoronationStreet, I’ve laughed, cried and been shocked that @KenBarlow is leaving, certainly is an end of an era! Thank you," added a third.
While a fourth wrote: "What the hell @itvcorrie, what the hell?? You are NOT letting Ken Barlow leave. Absolutely not, no, no way, no, no, no. Are you kidding me??"
Ken had found himself soul-searching when he and friends Rita and Audrey headed across to Blackpool to scatter Rita's late husband Dennis Tanner’s ashes.
Although the gang never made it due to a health issue with the driver, Ken got some clarity on his future and decided it was the right decision to move to Still Waters Luxury Retirement complex with Claudia.
Following the social media frenzy that sparked when Ken revealed his destiny on-screen, ITV bosses were quick to reach out to panicked soap fans who thought actor Bill was announcing his retirement.
Producers reassured viewers that he wasn't in fact quitting the soap altogether, just moving away from Coronation Street, and will still star in the long-running show.
Actor Bill is the only remaining character from the first episode of the soap, which first aired in 1960.
Addressing Ken’s decision to leave the cobbles, Bill said: "This is a big decision for Ken but in some ways he thinks it is now or never.
"He has lived on the same street his whole life and in the same house for most of it.
"He feels that he had a chance to move away with Martha on the barge but he let her go. Part of him regretted that. He doesn’t want to make the same mistake again and Claudia is very persuasive."
He added: "He breaks the news to the family next week and they are surprised but very soon Peter and Tracy start squabbling over who will be given first refusal on the house.
"We have already started filming at the retirement complex and I am really enjoying it, it always feels different when we film away from the Street.
"It seems fitting that Ken makes this decision in the 10,000th episode but it will be strange not filming in Number One after all this time."
Coronation Street continues Monday on ITV at 7:30pm.