The time has come for Simon Barlow to bid farewell to the Coronation Street cobbles after 16 years, and actor Alex Bain has spoken for the first time about his decision to bow out of the role.


It's a tearful occasion as Simon makes his exit, and it's been quite the journey for Bain. In an interview shared by ITV, he reveals the special guest stars in one of his last ever scenes of Coronation Street, tells us what he's planning to do next, and confirms the props he has chosen to take with him.

As the actor discusses, Simon has been part of several huge storylines over the years, including ones centred around a County Lines drug gang, domestic abuse and being the victim of childhood bullying.

In the present, Simon began drinking heavily after Peter fled the cobbles, later injuring stepbrother Sam Blakeman (Jude Riordan) in a car crash. Lost soul Simon has been struggling ever since.

Now, Simon is following in his father Peter Barlow's (Chris Gascoyne) footsteps to join him on his yacht - but adoptive mum Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) is devastated to see Simon go.

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Having starred as Simon since 2008, Bain was nominated for Best Young Actor at the British Soap Awards five times, and won the accolade in 2011.

What was it like filming your final scenes?

"It was incredibly emotional, which is understandable as it has been a huge part of my life. We filmed out of order, so my last scene that I filmed wasn’t Simon’s last scene in the show, but he was in Roy's Rolls saying goodbye to Carla.

"My parents Debra and Paul had come in to watch the scene, and the director kindly suggested that they could be background artists in the café. So there I was discussing Simon’s mum and dad with Carla whilst my own mum and dad were sitting at a table behind me having a coffee, how surreal!

"It was so special for them and me. My mum was my chaperone when I first started, and both of them have been so supportive of me throughout my time on Corrie, so it was a real moment for us all that they are in one of my final scenes."

So that was your last day. Can you remember your first day?

"I was only six when I started, but I remember doing the scene with Chris where we are getting out of the taxi and he says let’s go in and give them the shock of their lives. My first word was ‘tired’. At that age, you don't realise the enormity of what it means to be joining one of the longest-running shows in the world and be part of the family that were in the first episode in 1960.

"Obviously, I came to appreciate that as I got older, and also to have the privilege of working with some amazing actors. I remember my first scene with Anne Kirkbride, she was so kind and helpful, she looked at me after the scene and said ‘you will go far’. That has always stayed with me."

coronation street harvey and simon barlow
Harvey drew Simon into his drugs gang.

How did you get into acting and the role of Simon?

"When I was little, my mum and dad took me to do some professional photos and the photographer asked if it would be OK to give my details to an agent, as he thought I would be good as a child model. The agent got in touch and signed me up, and I have been with them ever since.

"I did some photographic jobs, a couple of commercials, including one for Rice Krispies, and then a role in Sunshine alongside Bernard Hill. My agent then called my mum and said there was a role for a child my age in Coronation Street, so I went through the audition process and the list kept getting shorter and shorter until my agent called and said I had got the part.

"That was a huge moment for my mum and dad, coming from a Northern working-class background, and suddenly you are taking your son to work alongside Ken Barlow!"

Alongside working on the show, you also managed to find time to do your schooling and to train as a dancer. Tell us about how you got into dancing.

"My grandparents were dancers and my mum also loved dancing. They all say I never walked anywhere, I was always dancing - and if my mum had me on the child reins, I’d end up all tangled up in them from going round in circles dancing. So they got me into dance classes at a young age, I went to The Bernese School of Theatre Dance and Drama and I still go there now.

"Ballet is probably still my favourite, all the students learn the classic forms of dance as a matter of course before going on to do any other disciplines. What I love about dance is the ability to express yourself to any type of music. I will always be a dancer, and one day I would love to be a choreographer and teach dance and ultimately open my own dance and performance school."

Simon screaming at Leanne in Coronation Street, she is dressed in yellow and he wears a school uniform
Simon abused Leanne. ITV

Leaving Corrie must be freeing you up to spend more time on dance, you must have missed a lot of competitions etc over the years...

"Yes, there were a lot of things I couldn’t do, but Corrie was my job and had to come first. I am currently finally taking my ballet and modern intermediate exams that I should have done when I was 16. I need those qualifications to have a chance of teaching and doing choreography.

"Acting goes hand in hand with dancing, though, so hopefully I will be able to continue to do both. But dance is definitely my focus at the moment. I’d like to do a dance teaching course. I've been able to attend a full week's worth of classes, which is something I haven't been able to do for a while. It is an exciting time for me to start thinking about what is next."

How did you feel about the fact that your time at Corrie was coming to an end?

"I felt very positive about it. Yes, the show has been the backbone of my life, but I am 22 now and maybe it is time to see what the future holds. It isn’t just a job, you become part of a family, and I will always have those people in my life. They aren’t just colleagues, they are friends.

"Obviously, anybody leaving feels sad about saying goodbye to people, but any sadness is a small part of it. That doesn't take away the excitement and anticipation. With Chris going, it felt like the obvious thing for Simon to follow his dad. Simon has been through so much and he was lost without his dad around. Simon heading off on his adventures means I can have new ones of my own."

Can you tell us a little about the key story highlights from your time on the show?

"The biggest one for me, really, and the one that had the most impact was the domestic violence storyline, with Simon physically abusing his mum. It was incredible to be able to work with Jane on that, and I was proud to be able to highlight an issue that not many people talk about.

"But it is more common than you think, and I had lots of people telling me that they had gone through the same thing - even people that I know. It was a difficult storyline to work on, but I am really proud of what we did. Simon had been through so much in his life and he had lost his way, and that is how it manifested itself. Very sad but very believable.

"Another one was the storyline of Simon being bullied. That one really resonated with me as I could identify with what Simon was going through, because I was bullied when I was younger. I was a boy and I was a ballet dancer, and kids can be very cruel and naïve. As someone who was bullied, to be able to bring my own experience into the storyline was incredible.

"I did a scene in the Bistro where Simon had been put in a dress and had make-up all over his face, and I felt the emotion that Simon felt because I knew how he felt.

"The county line's drug storyline was another one that was important to tell, and again it was easy to see how Simon could find himself caught up in that. He was looking for his tribe, he wanted to belong, but he ended up in an awful situation that put people in real danger."

A young Faye and Grace grab hold of Simon, all dressed in school uniform in Coronation Street
Simon was bullied as a child. ITV

Who have you learnt the most from?

"Chris, Jane and definitely Bill - to see someone of his age coming to set every day and still be on top of his game is awesome. Working with adults everyday from a young age definitely made me grow up and mature quickly and learn so much. I could list so many people - not just actors, but directors, people on the crew, they have all shaped my life."

Are you going to miss Simon?

"Yes, I am, because we have spent so much time together over the past 16 years. We are like two sides of the same coin, in a way. I am so pleased that he has a happy ending, that he is literally sailing off into the sunset with his dad and there is hope for his future.

"I don’t have to grieve for him as he hasn't been killed off. He hasn’t gone to prison. I can just imagine him having a great time with his dad, the two of them drinking orange juice on the boat in the middle of nowhere. I imagine their relationship is the best it has ever been."

Have you taken anything of Simon’s with you?

"Yes, I have got his fake leather jacket, I was determined to keep that. It even has ‘Simon’ written on the label inside, and I will keep that in there as it makes me smile. I have also taken Simon’s name tag from the mirror in my dressing room.

"And I have taken his belt as it is the only belt that has ever fitted me properly without having to put extra holes in. I have got his belt, jacket, his name off the mirror and lots of amazing memories."

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