Good grief but little Simon Barlow is lovely, isn’t he? If I had ovaries they would have spontaneously imploded after Friday’s episodes of cuteness. It’s almost as if a Valentine teddy bear, some penguins, and a crying koala shouting “I WUV YOU” were crushed up, run through a mincer, and made into a small human performance involving a battered sausage.
It could have been so different. Let’s not forget that Simon is the produce of The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name: bigamy with Twist out of Spaced. Peter Barlow gave up hope of ever seeing his son when Twist Lucy disappears to Australia, apparently never to be seen again.
Cancer is a terrible disease, and it’s worse when you live in the antipodes; as a result Lucy dropped dead and left her son without any visible support. Peter was there to sweep in and rescue Simon however, bringing him back to Weatherfield and ignoring the facts that (a) he’s spent five years in Australia but has a Manchester accent and (b) he is quite clearly mixed race, and no relation of the very blonde Lucy.
Given all this it wasn’t surprising when Peter made a show of himself at the Nativity, rubbing himself up against the statue of the Virgin Mary in an inappropriate fashion and stubbing out his fag on the top of a donkey. Ken reacted to his son’s indiscretions in the usual way - by pulling a pained expression and running a hand through his hair - while Peter descended into a world of £5.99 vodka from Dev’s.
Things really came to a head when Peter accidentally set the flat on fire and left little Simon to fend for himself. Fortunately this was exactly what the youngest Barlow was built for. Perhaps retaining a genetic instinct related to Granny Val burning to death in the maisonettes, SImon was on the phone demanding his address for the fire brigade faster than you could say “plot contrivance”.
Since then little Simon has been a veritable fountain of wisdom, beyond his years and his Gizmo from Gremlins appearance. When he joined up with new best friend Joshua Peacock, a solid axis of cuteness was formed which threatened to overwhelm the Street; only the presence of Ugly Baby Freddie and Amy Barlow’s monobrow (v.6.1) stopped their precociousness from dominating Weatherfield.
Even when Simon was dumped in Blackpool - Guantanamo Bay, without the sun - he managed to find his way back to Coronation Street all on his own. Some would say this showed a fine mental acuity. Others would say that it’s the sign of a great stage school mum, someone of a par with the Great Dina Lohan.
It’s not enough that Peter Barlow should descend into an alcoholic fug every now and then so the FACE OF TRUTH Simon Barlow can descend to judge him absolutely. It’s not enough that a tram falls on the Kabin and buries Rita under a quarterweight of bonbons; the true tragedy is that Simon had to spend an hour pressed up against Claire Peacock’s nightie in a wardrobe. In a crisis, Simon gives the best tearful reactions, and the producers love to exploit this. Rumours are that a forthcoming Hepatitis-B outbreak won’t become really significant until Simon shares a milk shake glass in Roy’s with Rosie Webster.
He is utterly cute, and utterly beguiling; one only has to look at Tom from Hollyoaks to see a child actor that you would actually like to see blown up in some kind of terrorist incident. Simon brings a grounding comedy to all his scenes - imagine how awful the Peter/Leanne confrontation would have been if he hadn’t been there demanding ketchup and silence while he ate. I hope that he grows up into another awkward teen who seems a bit out of place, like Sophie and Chesney. If nothing else, I’d just like to see them try and explain his Afro.