Played by: Johnny Briggs
First appeared: 11 October 1976
Mike Baldwin was born during the war in South London to Frankie Baldwin, a crafty docker, and his wife Mary. From an early age he had his eye out for money-making schemes: upon leaving school he became a teaboy at the Star Radio factory, and by 17, with the knowledge he had gained, he was running his own radio repair shop in his front bedroom. In 1971 he started in the East End of London in the garment trade with "two industrial sewing machines in a backroom with two widow ladies". By 1974 he could afford to open a factory in the same street and started to manufacture denim garments. Unusually for Mike, he was also ensconced in a cosy family relationship - he lived with lover Anne Woodley in Islington, and regarded her sons, Matthew and Jonathan, as his own.
In October 1976, Mike decided to expand, and bought the burnt out Mark Brittain warehouse on Coronation Street, renovating it into the second factory in the Baldwin's Casuals empire. He left the London factory in the hands of old schoolfriend Paul Tapp and spent his weekdays in Weatherfield, setting up this new colonial outpost. Along with the warehouse he bought No5 Coronation Street for £2,500 and installed local barmaid Bet Lynch as his 'housekeeper', telling her he had a wife back in London. No5 had been unaltered since it was built, having been previously occupied by Minnie Caldwell, so Mike employed Len Fairclough and Ray Langton to modernize the place, and they also knocked the downstairs through to one long room.
After a couple of months, Mike grew sick of Bet, and then his "wife" came up for a visit. Anne confronted Bet in the Rovers, stunning her with the news that she was actually Mike's common-law wife. Mike told Bet they didn't have a future, but Bet slapped his face and refused to budge. He sold the house from under her to the Langtons, and Bet moved into the flat above the Corner Shop. Somewhere in Mike's stony heart, though, was a drop of compassion: he arranged secretly with shopowner Renee Bradshaw to subsidize Bet's rent. Meanwhile, his relationship with Anne was over, and Mike moved to Weatherfield permanently, living in the Brookhouse Hotel.
In December 1976, Mike bought Sylvia's Separates in Victoria Street as an outlet for some of his clothes. He sacked Elsie Howard, telling her she was too old to sell trendy clothes, and moved her to the factory as a supervisor. In her place he promoted young Gail Potter, soon joined by Suzie Birchall, with whom Mike enjoyed a brief fling. Mike offered a denim suit to the person who could come up with a good name for the shop, and Albert Tatlock won with 'The Western Front'. However, Mike closed the store two years later due to lack of custom. Gail and Suzie were not amused, though Gail later called on Mike Baldwin at the last minute to give her away when she married Brian Tilsey in November 1979.
At the factory, Mike employed a motley assortment of workers. Pious Ernest Bishop was the wages clerk, and soon became Mike's right-hand man. On the shop floor lurked the three harpies - Vera Duckworth, who could have moonlighted as a foghorn on the Weatherfield docks; Ida Clough, flanked by her offspring Muriel and Bernard; and worst of all, militant Catholic shop steward Ivy Tilsley. Add Hilda Ogden as cleaner and Mike had a recipe for constant disruption. The factory always tottered on the clifftop of all-out industrial action, and occasionally tumbled right over. In 1977, Mike faced the threat of strike action when he tried to introduce a three day week, and again when he promoted his truculent new girlfriend Terri Clayton to the sewing room. In December 1977, there was a moment of light relief when Mike threw a party at the factory which Hilda, believing it to be fancy dress, turned up to as Charlie Chaplin. The next month, though, tragedy struck the factory. Ernest Bishop was murdered in a failed wages snatch and Mike was saddened by the loss of his most reliable employee.
The workers really did go on strike in June 1978 when he sacked Hilda Ogden. Hilda had asked for a new brush, and Mike dismissed her for damaging her old one, and the workers walked out. Mike tried to bring in non-union labour, who were threatened with violence by the strikers, and he was forced to climb down and reinstate Hilda. But it was never easy to pull one over Mike. In March 1979 he showed his tenacity when, hospitalized after breaking his leg when a lorry ploughed into the Rovers, he discharged himself to sort out a factory rebellion against stand-in manager Steve Fisher (employed as a warehouse driver in 1977, Mike groomed him as a manager and eventually sent him down to run London operations). So Mike treated his workforce with contempt. But it was a contempt they often deserved. He employed at the factory former lover Suzie Birchall but she was sacked when she used the office phone to call her punk boyfriend.
In 1980, Mike took on a new Supervisor, Pauline Stringer, who had been Senior Inspector at Aspinalls. She soon learnt Ivy was not democratically elected as shop steward, and gleefully insisted on a ballot. She scraped home with three votes over Ida Clough and Mike promoted Ivy to supervisor. Pauline wasn't oblivious to Mike's charms and spent nights with him in his hotel room, but with a communist father, she had very different values to Mike. Pauline granted the factory girls a shopping hour without consulting Mike - who immediately stopped it when he found out. Pauline felt Mike was undermining her authority and promptly walked on both on him and his job.
Perhaps one of Mike's reasons for moving to Weatherfield was to escape his theiving father Frankie. In December 1980, Frankie turned up, then absconded with Fred Gee's £70. Next month he returned on the run from the Vice Squad. On a third visit he was accompanied by a 22-year-old secretary called Sylvie Hicks. It seemed that deviousness and womanizing was a genetic Baldwin trait and during this time Mike himself was similary successful in his romantic pursuits.
He had always had a soft spot for divorcee Deirdre Langton. He had asked her out in 1979, and in February 1981 he came to her rescue when Ken Barlow's car broke down on the moors and Deirdre was literally left standingat the Rovers. Mike wined and diner her and a romance soon blossomed. When Mike asked Deirdre's opinion about a flat he was considering buying, it looked Mike may be making a serious committment. However, Mike became indirectly responsible for getting Deirdre and Ken Barlow back together. Mike threw a flatwarming in March (flat cost £28,000) to which Ken brought beautician Sonia Price. Mike ended up taking Sonia to a nightclub, leaving Ken with Deirdre. The couple were reconciled and married in July.
1982 saw more trouble at the factory. In May, Mike discovered his wages clerk had inadvertantly given the workers a payrise. He sacked her an employed Emily Bishop instead. In June, the girls' adopted cat, Cleopatra, knocked coffee on wage ledgers and ruined one of Mike's jackets. Mike took the cat to the RSPCA but the girls retrieved it and made it a member of the union. They were not so happy when Mike included the pet in a staff bonus share-out.
When Frankie Baldwin died in July 1982, Mike was devastated, the £2,500 Frankie left him scant compensation. He turned to florist Maggie Dunlop for comfort, which blossomed into a love affair. Within a month Maggie had moved in and Hilda, who had cleaned Mike's flat for a year, was scandalized - Mike gave her a pay rise to stop her moaning. Soon after moving in, Maggie decided to buy another flower shop, but Mike refused to loan her the £3,000 she needed, saying it was a bad investment. She got the money from old family friend Harry Redman, which annoyed Mike and heralded the breakup of the relationship. After only five weeks Maggie moved out - but not before announcing she was pregnant ! Mike offered to marry her but she turned him down. The result was a son, Mark. Maggie went on to marry Harry Redman and leave the area, though she never told Mark of his true father. Mike had a strong desire to be a father, and resented the lack of contact with Mark deeply. In the December, Mike threatened to sack Ivy when he learned that the workers were making hadbags on the side. Later, when Sammy Patel made the girls another offer, Mike was so attracted by the profits involved that he decided to make it legal - the girls refused unless given a bonus.
The end of 1982 finally saw love with Deirdre begin to develop, though she was now married to Ken Barlow. Deirdre had argued with Ken and spent evenings at Mike's flat. In February 1983 Mike pressed Deirdre to leave Ken and marry him, but Ken confronted Deirdre, who agreed to give their marriage a second chance. Ken warned Mike off and took Deirdre to Malta. It was the beginning of a lasting enmity between Ken and Mike, but also a continuing friendship with Deirdre.
Mike joined forces with Alf Roberts and Len Fairclough to open a wine bar on Rosamund Street called the Graffiti Club in September 1983. There had been intense local opposition, but the council had passed the plans anyway. Hilda Ogden was installed as cloakroom attendant, but the first night was marred after a fight broke out in the foyer - street residents were angry that they had been refused entry to the ticket-only event. In November, Ken, now working on the Weatherfield Recorder, wrote a piece slamming the club. But he was forced to swallow his hatred and rewrite his piece at the order of his partner, who feared loss of advertising. Ken called Mike "the debonaire dynamo of denim." In January 1984 though, Mike sold his share in the bar when he discovered the books were being fiddled.
Back at the factory, new faces toiled over the overlockers. Elsie Tanner had worked on and off, but was back as a humble machinist in 1982, and in 1983, Shirley Armitage, the Street's first black regular, was employed there. In 1985, George Wardle took a job as factory van driver, and nearly married widowed Ivy Tilsley. Mike had threatened to sack them both after George took Ivy to a church football match in the factory van - it was daubed with slogans by the opposing team. Uncharacteristically, Mike helped cleaner Hilda when she was negotiating to sell her house to Alf Roberts. This earnt friction with old friend Alf, but by December, Mike was sufficiently reconciled to be Alf's best man for his marriage to Audrey Potter.
Mike had always been involved in shady dealings. In June 1985 he engaged in one such deal with businessman Don Ashton, who left a briefcase with £4000 in a nightclub toilet. Ashton died in an accident on the way home, and the briefcase was found by Hilda Ogden - empty. New Rovers barman Wilf Starkey confessed to landlady Bet Lynch that he had taken the money, and Bet wanted to sack him, but Mike intervened, not wanting the police to be involved.
Mike's lovelife had been relatively quiet. He dated a Russian interpreter briefly, and had designs on designer Christine Millward, until her husband turned up. But this was the calm before the storm. In December 1985 Mike began to "get friendly" with Susan Barlow, Ken's daughter, much to Ken's horror. Susan, only twenty years old, had moved in with her father and was working on the Recorder, selling advertising space. The romance continued apace, despite Ken's attempts to thwart it by revealing to Susan Mike's affair with Deirdre. By February 1986, Susan had left home and moved in with Mike, and the couple were planning marriage. Ken refused to give his blessing, but eventually, though reluctantly, gave his daughter away when Mike married Susan in May 1986.
In September, Vera Duckworth publicly abused Susan, believing she had shopped her for being absent from work. Mike sacked her, though she was soon reinstated. In December, Susan began working in the factory, and tried to persuade Mike to manufacture Hopscotch, a range of children's clothing designed by college friend Cheryl Crossley. Mike humoured her by allowing her to run a small business producing the clothes, but when the profits are low, he closed it and employed Susan at a shop selling denim, attached to the factory. The marriage was difficult - Mike had forty-three years of swinging bachelordom behind him, and his views on gender had gone out with Lonnie Donnegan. What Mike really wanted from Susan was a good stay-at-home wife who would produce a flock of little Baldwins, but Susan had other ideas. Susan was trained in market research and wanted a career. The differences between Mike and Susan were irreconcilable, and Mike ended up sacking Susan from the shop. She walked out on him, returning to her father, in August 1987. In November, she discovered she was pregnant, but had an abortion. Mike, acutely feeling the loss of another chance at fatherhood, called her a murderer, and the marriage was finally over.
The factory puttered on, surviving the loss of long-time cleaner Hilda Ogden when she retired to housekeep for a Dr Lowther. January 1988 saw Mike change production from denim to curtains. In September, student Curly Watts wrote a thesis on the factory, listing the bad conditions and portraying Mike as a sweatshop owner. Mike ripped the report up, but Vera leaked it to Ken Barlow, who claimed in an article that Mike sold as first quality any sub-standard curtains he produced. This was untrue, and Mike threatened to sue for libel, humiliatingly forcing Ken to apologise. In February, Mike had an affair with Linda Farrell. She left Graham, her husband, for him, but Mike dumped her, and was beaten up by Graham in the street. In April, Mike was done for drink driving, and was fined and disqualified. He sacked Vera for shopping him, before Ida revealed it was her. Ida was sacked instead and disappeared into Weatherfield swamp - though she was to return about ten years later. In December 1988, Mike made another lasting enemy; Ivy's new husband Don Brennan. Don had won £60 from Mike in a poker game, but in second game, Don lost his taxi to Mike. Ivy was forced to use £1000 of her savings to buy the taxi back.
In 1989 he met Alma Sedgewick, who managed to seduce him after beating him at golf. He then dumped for estate agent Dawn Prescott. He also ended his association with another great love - he sold his factory to developer Maurice Jones. For a while he basked in the glow of his new dockland apartment, his blonde piece of stuff, and a huge wad of cash. Unfortunately, Dawn's brother Robert turned up, boasting of the profits in Spanish land. Mike flew to Spain to buy land for £150,000, only to find later he had bought the land off Robert himself and it was virtually worthless. He kicked Dawn out.
But Mike didn't give up without a fight, he returned to Alma and began making handbags in Alma's café flat. When this operation was closed down by Health and Safety Officials, Mike was forced to do the unthinkable - work for someone else. He took a salesman's job at Peter Ingram's textile factory - and fell for the boss's wife, Jackie Ingram. When her husband dropped dead of a heart attack, Mike wormed his way into Jackie's affections, and was soon running the whole factory. Putting money before love, he dumped Alma again and married the vituperative Jackie. But, like so many years before with Bet Lynch, Mike felt guilty over his treatment of Alma. He secretly arranged to help out with the ground rent for Jim's Café, though he took the money from Ingram's factory profits. Meanwhile he prepared for marriage to Jackie. They had argued before the wedding - about Alma, about a pre-marital contract, and the arguing didn't stop after the wedding. The marriage ended after two weeks when Jackie found out about Mike's secret payments and took a shotgun to him.
Mike received a hefty divorce settlement and with this, and a loan from Emily Bishop, bought the garage at 16 Coronation Street, calling it MVB Motors. He employed Kevin Webster and Jim McDonald, who also doubled as a chauffeur in Mike's Jaguar. He leased the empty unit at No14 from Maurice Jones and set up a T-shirt operation, MVB Print, employing Jim's son Steve McDonald. Steve undercut Mike, Mike found out and sacked Steve. But when Steve pointed out he had all the contacts Mike recognised a fellow rogue and agreed to rent the unit to Steve - then sent him a £1,200 rates bill. Steve struggled and turned to gambling, then secured a big contract, and needed a £20,000 investment for machinery. Mike stepped in to form a partnership, but used all Steve's contacts and dumped him, making a quick buck and leaving Steve to struggle by himself.
Meanwhile Alma had taken up with archrival Ken Barlow, and Mike set out to break up this relationship and have Alma for himself. Alma spent Christmas Day 1991 with Mike, then went with Ken to a hotel for New Year's Eve. When Alma confessed all to Ken, he walked out on her. The road was clear for Mike, and the couple married in July 1992.
Maggie Redman moved back to Weatherfield to run a florist's after the death of her husband Harry. Son Mark was taught by Ken Barlow, and romance blossomed between Ken and Maggie. When Mike discovered that his son was spending time with arch rival Ken he was apoplectic, though Ken later finished with Maggie, seeing her as another Mike castoff. During this time relations between Mike and Ken were at their most acrimonious, with Ken even punching Mike in the Rovers. With Maggie and Mark in Weatherfield, Mike took the opportunity to play the role he so desired - that of father. He paid for Mark to go to Oakhill Grammar School, though he couldn't afford it, and was hurt when Mark said he hated it. After Mark discovered that Mike was his real father from blabbermouth Tracy Barlow, Mike was free to spend time with the boy. When Maggie announced her intention to marry and move away to Felixstowe, Mike hoped Mark might come to live with him - much to Alma's discomfort. His plans were foiled when Mark decided he'd rather go with his mother to Felixstowe.
Mike often ignored Alma's feelings and dismissed her initiative. When she bought a convertible MG, Mike decided his wife was so stupid that it was probably stolen. He rang to check it, but was proved wrong. However when Alma checked Mike's Jaguar she discovered that was stolen! Mike was miffed, especially when the police took his car away. Old friend Deirdre Barlow had decided to emigrate to Morocco with toyboy lover Samir Rachid, and Mike agreed to buy No1, promising to resell it later and give the profits to Deirdre. He rented to solo mother Tricia Armstrong, then, under pressure from Deirdre, sold it to Ken Barlow - receiving a bucket of water over the head from Tricia's son Jamie for his troubles. Deirdre had returned from Morocco and Samir, now her husband, died after being attacked by a gang of youths. Mike bought a block of flats in Crimea Street and took on Deirdre as housekeeper, as well as providing accommodation for Tricia and Jamie, Roy Cropper, and Bill Webster. Alma was jealous of Mike's relationship with Deirdre, only too aware of Mike's serial womanizing, but Mike explained that he and Deirdre were just friends. And for once, Mike was monogamous: Tricia was jobless, and when she offered sexual favours to Mike in lieu of rent, Mike was disgusted and refused - but to ease her hardship took her on to clean up the unit at No14 - until she was caught by Social Services.
And so Mike dabbled in various deals and schemes and took glee in sacking Jim McDonald. Jim had taken the Jag on a private mission to the bank, trying to raise finance to buy the Rovers. Mike publically humiliated him after Liz McDonald begged for her husband's job back.
Then, Mike found an opportunity to return to his first love - the rag trade. In January 1996, Canadian Stephen Reid was in town looking for someone to make sportswear for his firm Kbec and Mike jumped at the chance. He started up a new factory, employing a returned Ida Clough, Janice Lee, Tricia Armstrong, and Josie Clarke as his PA. But he needed money, and decided to sell the garage. Kevin and new Jim's replacement Tony Horrocks were first favourites, but refused. The other interested party was Josie Clarke, and her lover, longtime Baldwin-hater Don Brennan. Mike tricked Josie, leaving a document on his desk at the factory pricing the garage at £50,000, well above its true valuation. Consequently, Don and Josie thought they had a real bargain when the bought the garage for £43,000. Unfortunately the garage needed expensive replacement machinery, and as Don did not have the money, the business folded. Josie had discovered that Mike had tricked them, and ended up leaving Don. Don's hatred of Mike slipped over into insanity.
Meanwhile, Alma had an attraction to Stephen Reid. Perhaps she was sick of Mike's underhand dealings and dismissal of the catering sideline she had developed, whatever her reasons, she made a pass at Stephen, which was rebuffed. Unfortunately, so-called friend Audrey Roberts had discovered Alma's feelings, and Alma confessed to Mike. She was infuriated when he replied that he didn't care - as long as it didn't hurt business! Meanwhile the business was hurt a little - Stephen arrived and declared the produce substandard - Mike was forced to take to the market and flog the clothes on a stall. Soon after he employed Sally Webster, much to the chagrin of her neolithic husband Kevin. The business was eventually to fall at the hands of Don Brennan. When Josie left him, he went mentally unhinged, and tried to commit suicide. Stephen Reid was not happy to hear about how Mike had swindled Don, and cancelled the KBec contract. He blamed Alma, and in order to keep the factory going, manufactured counterfiet gear. Just as Kbec were about to put a stop to this, Don burned down Mike's factory. Mike was under suspicion, though lawyer Frankie Stillman ensured he wasn't actually charged. Don, furious that his plans had failed, tried to abduct Alma in his taxi. He drove into the canal, but was rescued and placed in a mental hospital.
Alma hoped that she and Mike would emigrate to Florida, and Mike was happy to let her think so, but he was actually developing a new business, a new factory at 14 Coronation Street. Called Underworld, it made underwear designed by partner Angie Freeman. Alma, tired of being discounted, took a job at Firman's Freezers. Mike was embarassed to have a wife working in a supermarket and told manager Curly Watts to forget about Alma's job. He whisked Alma off to Cyprus. When she returned she was determined that Mike wouldn't win this time, and secured a shop on the checkouts.
At Underworld, Mike had difficulty getting used to a) having a partner, and b) having a female partner. More than once Angie had to remind Mike not to order her around. She was not pleased that he secured an order for underwear from the Dutch army - she had a more fashionable market in mind - and she was definitely not willing to use her feminine wiles to secure contracts, as Mike expected her to. At the factory Mike again employed Ida Clough, Sally Webster and Janice Battersby. He also took on Liz McDonald, to Alma's jealousy. Meanwhile Don Brennan simmered in his asylum. He managed to escape and made his way to Underworld, attacking Mike with a chairleg. When this was foiled by the arrival of Angie, Don took Mike's car and ploughed into the Viaduct, finally killing himself.
In February 1998, longtime friend Deirdre Rachid was charged with fraud over her relationship with conman Jon Lindsay. As usual Mike went out of his way to help her out, giving her lawyer Frankie Stillman, and a place to stay when she had nowhere to go. Alma was frustrated at having her husband's ex-mistress around the place, especially when Deirdre contemplated suicide. Deirdre was eventually convicted and sent to jail, but shortly afterwards released after new evidence of Lindsay's criminal activities.
Later, in August, Mike was horrified to find that his highly efficient machinist, and Roy's new girlfriend, Hayley Patterson, was transsexual, and sacked her. The other staff rallied to Hayley's side (not knowing exactly WHY she had been sacked) and Mike was eventually forced, with some strong pressure from Alma, to rehire Hayley, but continued to rib and tease Hayley and Roy at every opportunity; "Hello lads!" being a classic example, as he entered the Rovers and saw the couple. Hayley eventally snapped and told the whole factory that she was transsexual, to Mike's amusement, but after some initial friction, things settled..
Mike was blackmailed in April 1999 by Julia Stone, at the behest of Greg Kelly. Mike had let himself get a bit carried away and taken Julia to bed, under the impression she was a fabrics seller. The photos were sent and Mike ended up paying a lot of money to keep the information from Alma, but when the unhinged Greg also tried to get his own back on Sally Webster, and subsequently arrested, Alma found out about his indisrection and moved out into Audrey's house.
During the separation, one of Mike's machinists, Linda Sykes, saw an opportunity and made her move. She successfully seduced Mike and, to her own amazement, found herself becoming very fond of the man old enough to be her father. They became a very happy couple and Linda soon moved into Mike's flat.
Alma then divorced Mike citing unreconcilable differences. Or maybe she had just had enough of Mike's duplicitous nature... and Linda Sykes.
Mark Redman re-entered Mike's life also, in November 1999, and was delighted to make Mark a partner in the business, but Mark and Linda started an on/off secret affair at the Millennium, which caused both parties great heartache. Mark eventually had to leave, leaving Mike baffled as to why. Mike proposed to Linda and asked Mark to be best man.
In September 2000, Mike married Linda in a big plush wedding at a country house. Mark went missing and Roy Cropper stepped in as best man. Later the same day, he found out about Mark and Linda's affair and threw Mark out of his life forever, forgiving Linda.
In January 2001, Mike found out that he had another son, Adam, by Susan Barlow. She had lied
about the abortion and had the child in Newcastle, bringing him
up in Glasgow, hidden from all the rest of the family lest Mike
got to know about him. Mike met with Susan and demanded access
but she attempted to escape to Ireland. She died in a car accident
whilst leaving Glasgow driving too fast. Adam was badly injured
but survived and now had to come to terms with the loss of his
mother and the appearance of a father he never knew. Mike and
Ken locked horns yet again in an attempt to gain custody of the
child, and eventually Mike won the case. Adam moved in to the
Baldwin flat, with grandad Ken given access to see Adam.
Mike's last girlfriend was Penny King whom he had been seeing at the same time that Fred Elliot fancied her. Penny was Fred's friend and knew he fancied her but never was more than that. Fred and Mike's friendship suffered a bit of a blow over Penny when the truth came out but it was mended eventually.
Yet another son surfaced when Mike discovered that the man he thought was his nephew, Danny, was his son from a brief affair with his sister-in-law Vivian. Mike told Penny but kept the secret for a short while. A few weeks later the truth came out and Danny was devastated. He never really made his peace with the whole situation even though Mike did try to reach out to him. Adam was now his brother and rival for the business which caused further tension between the two of them. When Mike began to show signs of illness, Danny moved quickly and gained legal control of Mike's business. Mike never knew.
In 2005, Mike developed Alzheimer's disease. His family were stunned by the revelation. He went to live in Spain, and came back in a state that shocked the Street. In a somewhat ironic and tragic occurance, Mike broke out of hospital one night, and went to the factory. Ken found him, and looked after him for the moments that went by. Just as Mike taunted Ken that he would take Deirdre away from him, he had a massive heart attack, which ultimately claimed his life. He died on Friday 7 April 2006.
Interesting Fact: Mike was the mystery Mr Wonderful who was the prize in a charity raffle run by Ken Barlow. Hilda won, and Mike gave Hilda £40 to call it off.