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Byline: By Claire Donnelly

HE has packed more into 30 years than most people manage in a lifetime.

As well as 25 girlfriends and four marriages, Coronation Street's Mike Baldwin, has somehow found time to wheel, deal and brawl his way through three decades in the show.

Johnny Briggs, who filmed his final scenes as Mike last week, asked to be killed off after deciding to leave the soap to retire.

Viewers will see him succumb to Alzheimer's before dying of a heart attack.

Johnny says: "When I joined Coronation Street in 1976, I was only going to be in it for three months. Now, 30 years later, I can't believe I'm finally saying goodbye.

Speaking on day three of our exclusive serialisation marking his Street exit, Johnny talks us through the behind-the scenes secrets of his 20 greatest moments.

1976: Joining the show - and shacking up with Bet Lynch.

I'D ONLY just joined the cast but there was no stopping Mike Baldwin - he started as he meant to go on by charming new girlfriend Bet Lynch.

It wasn't soon before we broke up though - and I was being walloped by my old friend, Julie Goodyear.

When Mike called it a day, Bet went mad and was meant to give me a stage slap. But Julie was so nervous she really went for it - she hit me so hard my teeth rattled.

We laughed about it afterwards but at the time I was in agony.

1977: Mike in The Rovers.

WHEN I joined Coronation Street, The Rovers was always Mike's second home.

And from the very start he was associated with his favourite tipple, Scotch, and his trademark cigars.

But in real life, I hate both and haven't smoked for more than 50 years.

So I don't inhale, or even light the cigars sometimes and, luckily, the Scotch is just apple juice.

But when I first joined I got a shock - it was gravy browning that had often gone off. Bloody horrible!

1978: The death of Ernie Bishop.

CORONATION Street isn't a show that uses violence for the sake of it but this was a fantastic story - one of the most enjoyable I've worked on.

It's easy to forget how sensational it was at the time. Everybody was shocked to see something so brutal as an armed robbery in a street like Coronation Street - it gave the show a real edge.

I missed Stephen Hancock, who played Ernie. But he had disagreed with bosses over his contract. It taught me a valuable lesson about who's in charge.

1982: With on-screen dad, Frankie Baldwin.

THIS is a very poignant picture for me because Sam Kydd, who played my dad Frankie, fell ill with emphysema then died while we were filming.

In many ways, it was one of the most dramatic events of my career.

The writers had to change everything at very short notice and re-jig all the scenes we were going to do together.

1982: Being rejected by Maggie Dunlop.

FOR once, love-em-and-leave-emMike was on the receiving end when girlfriend Maggie Dunlop turned down his proposal. Used to calling the shots with women, it was great seeing him unsure of himself for once. They split when he wouldn't lend her pounds 3000 to help out her florists.

As a parting shot, Maggie, played by Jill Kerman, told him she was pregnant.

1983: The Deirdre love triangle.

WHEN Ken Barlow and Mike clashed over the same woman - Deirdre - it was one of the show's biggest ever storylines, attracting 22 million viewers.

Seeing the way it captured the nation was amazing. Everyone was talking about it and the pubs were empty.

Men were shouting out: "Go on Mike, give her one."

People were disappointed when she went back to Ken, played by Bill Roache.

The final scene was very emotional and Bill changed things to make it more charged - he thought Ken would never let Mike in his house.

So when I turned up to see Deirdre, the usually mild-mannered teacher shocked everyone by shutting the door in my face and slamming her against the wall.

1986: Marrying Susan Barlow.

THIS was a bad day - for me and Mike. When I heard bosses were planning for him to marry Ken's daughter, Susan, I complained because I didn't think the character should settle down.

They told me it wouldn't last long but in the end he was with Susan Barlow, played by Wendy Jane Walker, for a year.

It was a rotten time for me. I didn't get on with Wendy - she was too starry and wouldn't listen to anyone's advice - so I was glad when they split up over her having an abortion.

1986: Getting thumped in the factory.

AS Mike and Ken, Bill Roache and I became famous for our punch-ups and this was the one that set the ball rolling.

It was a classic - Baldwin getting it in his own territory, the factory. It took a lot to get Ken angry but after the way Mike had treated his daughter, he was furious.

He marched into the office and let him have it. This was one of those rare times he caught Mike off-guard.

1986: Seeing Baldwin's demolished.

NOBODY told me they were going to demolish Baldwin's factory. So when I saw it being knocked down, it was a real shock.

I ran out on to the Street just in time to see it being smashed to smithereens.

To me it meant only one thing - Mike was going to be written out.

I was convinced it was the end for Baldwin. But I wasn't homeless for long - and Underworld looks set to stay where it is for a long time yet.

1990 Thumping Ken in The Rovers.

IT took him four long years but Mike finally got his own back and landed one on Ken.

And I must say it was very satisfying. I felt fantastic as I knocked him over the table.

All the regulars were watching agog as he sent him flying.

Bill and I have had so many punch-ups over the years that we became old hands it at. We never used a choreographer. It's one of the things I'll really miss and I know he will too.

1991: Marriage No2 to Jackie Ingram

INTRUE Baldwin style, this marriage only lasted a week.

When wealthy widow Jackie, played by Shirin Taylor, realised Mike was only after her money she turned on him.

In one of my favourite-ever scenes, she threw off her wedding ring before pulling a double-barrelled shotgun on him.

He challenged her to use it and it was only when he looked again that he realised it was actually loaded.

The look on Mike's face was priceless. But it served him right.

1992: Getting hitched again - to Alma Sedgewick.

MIKE hasn't always picked the right women but with Alma he'd found someone who really understood him.

Amanda Barrie, who played Alma, and I knew each other from our Carry On days and we got on like a house on fire.

I always enjoyed working with her and after Julie Goodyear left, she became my really good friend on set.

1997: Being attacked by Don Brennan

THIS was Coronation Street high drama at its best. Don was furious with Mike after losing money when he bought his garage.

Wanting revenge, he escaped from hospital, and attacked him.

Geoff Hinsliff, who played Don, was brilliant. Later on, it wasn't me flying across the bonnet of his car - it was a stuntman thank goodness.

1998: Being slapped by Alma as Deirdre is jailed for fraud

EVEN after all these years, I was stunned by how gripped the nation was by the story.

When Tony Blair started talking about the campaign to "Free the Weatherfield One", we knew we were doing something right. It was a surreal time.

Alma was so angry Mike had paid out pounds 10,000 for Deirdre's defence that she slapped him. As with Julie Goodyear, I found out that Amanda Barrie could pack quite a punch.

1999: Being conned by prostitute Julia Stone

MIKE thought this was going to be just another notch on his bedpost but very soon he learned the truth about Julia, played by Fiona Allen.

She was a former prostitute who slept with him then blackmailed him for pounds 10,000.

Like so many men he was flattered by a younger woman and fell for her plan, hook, line and sinker. His luck ran out this time. He was left alone and vulnerable ... until he met Lynda.

1998: Another punch-up - this time for real.

IT'S not often Barlow gets the better of Baldwin, but when we clashed on the cobbles yet again, on this occasion Bill really did knock me for six.

As I fell backwards, I landed awkwardly on the cobbles and despite the protective foam they'd put down, felt the pain shooting up my arm immediately. It blew up like a football.

With the help of some strong painkillers I managed to finish our scenes. To add insult to injury, the fall sparked off a twinge of gout - Bill still owes me one for that.

2000: Finding out the truth about Linda

MIKE thought he knew all there was to know about women - but that was before he met Lynda Sykes. Jacqueline Pirie is a fantastic actress and, like Amanda Barrie, doesn't mind rehearsing so we worked really hard to get this right.

We all had great chemistry and I still miss Paul Fox - who played Mark - because we genuinely did get on like father and son.

There was one aspect of the storyline I didn't like though - when Mike hit Linda.

I didn't think he would do something like that. He might have been a bit of a rogue but he wasn't a wife-beater.

2000: The Freshco siege.

WITH Mike and Ken taken hostage and facing possible death they were finally forced to bury the hatchet.

What people didn't realise was, the discomfort on our faces was for real.

Bill and I were holed up together for eight hours, and bosses brought in a real SWAT team, so there were some genuinely scary moments

Storming in with rifles, they manhandled us out. I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of them.

2005: Danny finds out Mike is his dad

DANNY had no idea Mike was his dad - so when he found out he was the product of an illicit affair between the man he thought was his uncle and his mum, Viv, it was a huge shock.

As a fellow Southerner, Bradley Walsh, who plays Danny, and I were bound to get on - and we have done right from day one.

He reminds me a lot of the young Mike - he's got the Baldwin twinkle in his eye! So when it came out he was his son, I don't think anyone was surprised.

2006 Suffering from Alzheimer's

WHEN I decided I was leaving, I told the scriptwriters I wanted Mike killed off and they came up with the Alzheimer's story.

It was a harrowing role to play and viewers have contacted me to say my performance was hard to watch because it reminded them of how ill their relatives had been.

Mike has always been very dapper, so seeing him dishevelled made a real impact on me. It's all far cry from when the day he arrived on the Street as a good-looking, Cockney wide-boy.

I've had such an amazing time bringing him to life. There isn't much Mike hasn't done.

It's been a brilliant 30 years.

'When Tony Blair started talking about the campaign to Free the Weatherfield One, we knew we were doing something right'


ROVING EYE: With Bet Lynch' CLOSE: With his dad, Sam Kydd' SHOCK: Marrying Susan Barlow' WIFE No3: Wedding to Alma' DRAMA: Don Brennan's attack' ROBBERY: With old rival Ken
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 22, 2006
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