Former Corrie star Peter Baldwin, who played the much loved dithering Derek Wilton, has died aged 82. The actor appeared in Coronation Street from 1976 until 1997.
“It is with great sadness we’ve learned respected former Coronation Street actor Peter Baldwin has died. Peter passed away at his home in north London [on 21st October] after a short illness. We send our sincere condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.” – ITV Granada
Born in Chichester, Sussex, Baldwin trained to be an actor, gaining his first professional work with the West of England Theatre Company, co-starring, and house-sharing, alongside future Corrie partner Thelma Barlow. From the late 1950s into the 1960s he appeared in various theatre productions including touring with The Old Vic, and appeared in supporting roles in several movies, before switching to television in 1969.
His first major TV series was in ATV sitcom Girls About Town playing Harold, head of the Liversedge family alongside Barbara Knox as Sylvia and Denise Coffey as Brenda. The sitcom ran for three series from 1969 to 1971 and revolved around suburban housewives bored with their daily routine who decide to look for more interesting adventures.
Barbara Knox, who had previously guest-stinted as Rita Littlewood in Coronation Street in 1964, made a return to the cobbles a year after the comedy ended. Peter soon followed, cast as the eccentric, pompous and easily offended Derek Wilton. First seen in 1976 Derek wooed the nervous and indecisive Mavis Riley (Thelma Barlow) shop worker for Rita (Barbara Knox) in Weatherfield’s The Kabin newsagents. While it seemed love was in the air it took until 1984 for Mavis and Derek to finally commit to a wedding, then ultimately both stood each other up on the big day.
While Peter’s role had been an ‘as and when’ commitment to the Granada Television production, he became a regular in 1986, two years later he finally made Mavis ‘Mrs Wilton’. It hadn’t been easy, up until her death in 1981 he’d been under the close watch of his mother, then in 1985 he married his boss’s daughter, Angela Hawthorne (Diane Fletcher) for reasons only Derek alone could know, work security? It certainly wasn’t love… The marriage didn’t last long and a divorce soon followed. In 1990 The Wilton’s moved into 4 Coronation Street which was bliss for the couple until, fresh from the North East, Des Barnes (Philip Middlemiss) and his wife moved in next door. Easily offended and easily wound-up The Wilton’s were often at the end of Des’ comical jokes.
Another who liked to wind-up Derek was Norris Cole, who called him ‘Derk’. Stealing his garden gnome and ex-wife Angela (again the marriage didn’t last) were just two of his annoyances against Derek. Having worked as a salesman for various companies, failing in one way or another at each, Derek swallowed his pride and took a job at ex-wife Angela’s firm. The stationary company gave him his own car, lime green with a huge illuminating orange paperclip on the top of it. This lead to the demise of Derek when a road rage incident saw the much-loved character suffer a fatal heart attack at the roadside.
After Coronation Street Peter made guest appearances across television in game shows and chat shows including Crosswits, Countdown, This Morning, GMTV and The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Acting roles continued to be offered and he featured in guest-appearances in shows such as BBC soap Doctors, Channel 4 drama The Courtroom and BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine.
In 1988 he took over the management of Pollock’s toy shop in London’s Covent Garden, where he had previously worked between acting jobs. He was married to the former Play School presenter and actress Sarah Long. Sarah died in 1987. Baldwin is survived by his two children.
Peter reprised his role of Derek Wilton one final time in 2012 in a special ITV Text Santa feature which saw the ghost of Derek haunting Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) in a Corrie sketch.
Peter Baldwin 29th July 1933 – 21st October 2015