Created 25 November 2002
Updated 6th November 2004
Played by Jacqueline Pirie later
billed as Jacqueline Chadwick
Catty factory girl Linda was taken on as a machinist at Mike Baldwin's Underworld factory in October 1998. Soon she made her presence felt by being one of the first to criticize her transsexual workmate, Hayley Patterson. She made Hayley's life hell when Hayley revealed to a shocked workforce that she was transsexual. She dubbed poor Hayley a pervert for trying to use the ladies loo.
Though the other girls eventually accepted Hayley's past, Linda took much much longer and continued to view her with contempt.
Linda's reputation as a hard case was built up by the scriptwriters in the coming months and she was rarely seen in the Rovers without her trademark roll-up cigarettes and pint of bitter in her hand.
To begin with Linda wasn't likable at all. A hard case and it would appear that she had no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. However as the years past, the viewer would learn more about her past and began to start to understand that her character wasn't just a simple bitch, there was a lot more to her. Linda definitely had a vulnerable side where Mike Baldwin and his sons Mark and Adam were concerned.
By the time Linda departed Coronation Street in 2001 she would be one of the most popular bitchy characters in recent Street history and three years on since her departure, there are many fans who would like to see her return. Jacqueline Pirie had turned Linda into a character the public loved to hate who at times could also be witty and sad.
Linda was the first born child and only daughter of Ray and Eve Sykes. After her came several brothers. How many depends on what you read or the scripts - there could be 4 or 5? We know of at least four - Jimmy, Ryan and Dean and another that never was seen. The fourth brother could be called Liam? In 2001 Ryan referred to a Liam who was in jail and an ex-boyfriend of Karen MacDonald. However Liam could also have just been a close friend of Ryan's. If there is a fifth brother, there is no information on him whatsoever.
By all accounts Linda had a very rough childhood on one of the roughest estates in Weatherfield - Brick Farm Estate! Not only were her family a bunch of criminals, they were also very poor. Years later just before her marriage, when Linda had broken away from her family, Karen told Mike not to go raking around in Linda's past, it was best left alone. It consisted of Social Services, children in and out of care and parents and other relatives in prison.
From the start it was clear Linda was a bright girl but was denied all the chances this could bring by her rough family. So she failed to do well at school. Her best friends at school however were Nita Dessi (from a completely different social background) and Karen Phillips (later MacDonald) who lived on the same estate as Linda.
Shortly after brother Jimmy's 16th birthday, Linda's mother walked out on the family leaving Linda the only female at home to look after a household of men and boys. Linda's mother had nothing more to do with her husband or any of the children for around 9 years after this.
With her father in and out of prison and her mother gone, Linda decided to put her whole life on hold to raise her younger brothers. Eventually she, like her mother before her, got sick of being taken for granted, doing all the work - cooking, cleaning, washing etc - single handedly without any support from anyone least of all her brothers.
Sick of her no hope brothers and father, Linda finally fled the Brick Farm Estate to start a life of her own. Occasionally Linda would send money back to the family, however by now in her late teens/early twenties, Linda decided to have nothing more to do with her family and this is something they would never quite forgive her for until they thought Mike Baldwin had murdered her some years later.
Linda would earn a living working in factories sewing. Finally in October 1998 she wound up working for "Underworld" on Coronation Street.
Probably one of the most conniving women in Weatherfield, Linda soon had her eye on boss, Mike Baldwin, after he broke up with his wife Alma. She ingratiated herself by bringing round a bottle of whisky, and the two were soon having a full-on affair. She successfully seduced Mike and, to her own amazement, found herself becoming very fond of the man old enough to be her father - and dare one say even her grandfather.
Mike wanted to keep the affair secret because he was frightened how much it would cost him in a divorce settlement if Alma found out - even though Linda wasn't the actual cause of their marriage breakdown. However the affair was spotted one day by Hayley, leaving the factory late, and Linda confronted Hayley about what she'd seen. Hayley kept quiet for a while, but once her good friend Alma had discovered that Mike was seeing another woman, Hayley went to see Alma and told her it was Linda.
The secret had to come out eventually so now that Alma knew, Linda and Mike went public much to many people's amusement, Linda's delight and Alma's disgust.
Mike and Linda became a very happy couple and after an exotic holiday abroad, Mike realised he actually cared for Linda. Soon after Linda moved into Mike's. Mike was shocked when he went to Linda's squalid bed sit to pick up her belongings and told her she was leaving scrimping and scraping behind and that he would "turn her into a princess."
Mike's feelings for Linda were re-confirmed after he fired her from "Underworld" finding personal life and business didn't go together - the other girls resented Linda sleeping with the boss and Linda resented taking orders from factory supervisor Deirdre Rachid. At first Linda was reluctant to find another job happy to live off the Baldwin money however when Mike made it quite clear she needed to earn her keep, Linda looked up her ex Paul Wheeler and went to work for him. When Wheeler started picking up Linda and taking her to work and Linda told Mike some story of how she had to leave Wheelers in the first place over this man and he wanted to resume where they left off, Mike was quick to reinstate Linda back at Underworld.
Domestic bliss started to get complicated when Mark Redman re-entered his father Mike's life in November 1999.
To start with there was a lot of bitching between Mark and Linda as each wanted their special time with Mike and each saw the other as a threat. However the affair with Mike that had started as a conniving game by Linda, was starting to turn more serious. She admitted to her friend Nita she felt more about Mike than anyone she had before. However Linda was still jealous about his ex Alma (who Mark was close to) and when she found out MIke had taken Alma to dinner (to celebrate their divorce), behind her back Linda was very angry and upset. However Mike just dismissed Linda's hurt and jealous feelings as childish tantrums.
The strained relationship between Mike and Linda took a new twist on Christmas Day 1999 when Mike brought Linda sexy underwear. Sick of being treated like a sex object one minute and a child the next - Linda walked out on Mike. With their relationship over, at the Millennium party, Mike could not face Linda so asked Mark to go and shut up the factory.
Mark was furious with Linda for breaking his father's heart so headed off to the factory to confront Linda while everyone was in the pub or on the street. However what began as hostile quickly turned into passion for Mark and Linda in the factory where they kissed passionately and made love.
Mike arrived unexpectedly after they dressed and had a proposition for both of them. He wanted to make Mark his partner in business and Linda his partner in life - ie the 4th Mrs Baldwin. They were the two most important people in his life and he didn't want to lose Linda. After a few days of toying with Mike, Linda accepted Mike's proposal much to Mark's annoyance. Mike did make Mark a partner in his business. Little did he know Linda and Mark were drawn to each other and would use every opportunity they could get to meet each other for sex.
Now engaged to Mike and with Mark as her toy boy, around March 2000, Linda set her sights on greater things than being a factory girl and Mike soon reluctantly promoted her from machinist to sales rep, and she started to bring big orders into Underworld. Linda's new position at Underworld did not go down well with her work mates and relations with them were never the same again. They would tolerate her at best and be frosty at worst.
In June 2000, as a replacement for her on the machines, Linda suggested to Mike that he take on her old friend Karen Phillips. She had previously worked at Wheelers with Linda and it was soon apparent they had grown up together but at this time nothing else was known about either Linda or Karen's background.
Mark and Linda had started an on/off secret affair at the Millennium (just minutes before Mike's proposal), and this would cause all parties great heartache and dominate much of the year 2000 stories.
Despite Linda and Mike being a perfect cunning match for one another, Linda and Mark couldn't help themselves. Mark at first tried to bury his head in the sand by running away from his feelings and started dating a posh girl called Claire. Mike very much approved but Linda definitely did not. Mark soon tired of Claire, it was Linda he wanted and he did everything he could to persuade her that he was what she wanted. Linda still would not make a choice between father and son so Mark began dating Leanne Battersby - while cheating on her with Linda. Then Mike suggested that Mark teach Linda to drive. This gave them ample opportunity to continue their affair right under Mike's nose.
However when Mike was away on a business trip Linda and Mark made a mistake of going clubbing where they were spotted by Leanne's friend Geena. For the first time the viewers started to see a whole new side to Linda. May be she really did care about people after all? Despite Geena saying she didn't want to know any of the details of the affair, Linda insisted on explaining her feelings. Linda was in love with both men. If Mark had come along first things would have been easier but she was now due to marry Mike and she didn't know what to do?
Geena sort of accepted Linda's feelings but all she really cared about was her friend Leanne at this time so between Linda's pressure and what Geena knew, Mark had no choice but to break up with Leanne. However Linda was still not prepared to leave Mike for Mark.
It was brought home to Mark at Linda's birthday in June 2000 that he could never be the husband she wanted. While he had brought her a piece of jewelry, Mike had brought her a brand new car with a big ribbon round it and it was clear which gift meant more to Linda.
At the end of June 2000 Mark and Linda's relationship came to a head when Mark finally forced her to make a choice. They had been going round in circles for months. Each taking turns at ending the affair but not being able to help themselves. Linda admitted she was in love with them both and if Mark had come first she would have had him for sure. Now however Mark could take this no longer and told her he was leaving Weatherfiled with his friend Craig.
Mark wrote a letter to Mike saying he was leaving. Linda had finally decided she would leave with Mark however when she got back to the flat to tell Mike, she discovered him reading Mark's letter explaining how he was leaving which baffled Mike. Mike was so shocked that he had his first serious heart attack. Linda was relieved to see the letter mentioned nothing about her affair with Mark and now was not the time to tell him after all.
At an appointed time Linda was supposed to meet Mark so they could leave Weatherfield together. However Linda didn't show because of Mike's heart attack. Mark assumed wrongly this time that Linda had backed out of their plans so Mark decided to leave without Linda. Unbeknown to him a devastated Linda was busy calling 999 to come and save Mike.
Mark again returned to Weatherfield upon hearing of his father's heart attack but both he and Linda realised if Mark just leaving could cause Mike to have a heart attack, what would it do to him if he knew about their affair. Regretfully they both decided to end their affair once and for all. Linda would stay with Mike.
Although Linda had made her choice, she still couldn't quite let go of Mark. In an attempt to keep him around a while longer, she lied to Mark telling him that his father only had 6 months to live and they had to ride it out until Mike died. Mark was torn. He loved Linda but he also loved his father and didn't want to hurt him. He was also shocked to hear that his Dad was dying.
Mark did of course find out his father dying story was a lie and when he did he was furious with Linda. Not wanting to hurt his father anymore and torn between love and hatred for Linda, Mark decided to leave Weatherfield - for good. This time he told his father he just needed to travel. Mike agreed and paid his expenses under one condition, he came back to be best man at the wedding.
10th September 2000, Mike and Linda got married in a big plush wedding at a country hotel. An extra 2 million viewers tuned in to see the climax of the Linda/Mike/Mark love triangle - giving Corrie 17 Million viewers (a very high audience for September)
The wedding date was set for 10th September 2000. Mark returned but it soon became apparent he was having problems accepting the situation. Right up to the wedding day itself he begged Linda to run away with him but Linda had made her choice it was Mike she wanted not Mark. Deep down however the viewer was left wondering if this was her true feelings? Meanwhile Mark had confessed all to Alma.
Mark was supposed to be best man but couldn't face watching his father marry the woman he loved so supposedly disappeared due to ill health, Geena (who was Linda's "best woman" and had become her friend) was furious with Mark for putting pressure on Linda when she had clearly make her choice in Mike. Geena knowing the full story was proud of Linda for finally facing up to her emotions and having made a decision. She felt it was time for Mark to grow up and face up to reality.
Roy Cropper took Mark's place at the last minute much to Mike's annoyance. Later in the wedding suite, Mike and Linda found a drunken Mark throwing up everywhere. He was a mess. Mike accused Mark of making him a laughing stock. Mark chose this moment to tell his father he had been having sex with Linda just hours before Mike had proposed. Mark then went on to give all he gory details of his affair with Linda. If anyone was making Mike look the fool it was Linda!
Linda wormed her way out of it much to Mark's horror. Mike announced he knew Linda better than he did his own son and despite the fact he accepted there had been an affair, Linda's version was more likely to be true than Mark's.
Mike got chest pains caused by the betrayal and told Mark he never wanted to see him again. Mark left Weatherfield. However was this really the end of the Mike/Mark/Linda love triangle?
Mike and Linda went on their honeymoon for the sake of public appearances but they didn't speak for the whole 3 weeks or so they were away. When the honeymoon was over, Mike decided to let Linda stay at the flat while they decided the future.
After an armed siege at Fresco's in October, where Mike was held hostage, Linda was horrified to discover that one of the gunmen was her own brother, Dean, and he had been shot and killed on the scene by the police. Linda and Mike decided to put the past behind them and the whole incident made Mike realised that he loved and had forgiven her. Also the siege marked a turning point in the relationship of Ken and Mike. After being tied up together in a store cupboard they put the past behind them. Mike had even told Ken about Mark and Linda's affair.
The death of her brother Dean, brought Linda's family back into her life. Mike suddenly realised why Linda had never wanted anything to do with them and was not best pleased when she said she had changed her mind and after everything with Dean she now realised her family were her family despite everything. However as Linda was still grief-stricken and feeling slightly guilty about leaving Dean, Mike could do nothing but tolerate his new in-laws.
In November 2000 Linda confided in Geena that she was scared that her period was late. She knew if she was pregnant she wouldn't have a clue who the father was? It could be Mark or Mike? (The time span in the scripts since she last slept with Mark doesn't fit here, unless Linda had missed more than one period).
Linda had just got her marriage back on track but she knew a who's the daddy situation could blow it a part. Geena asked if she wanted children? Linda had said she would like children someday but not yet and she didn't know what Mike would think about it -assuming it was his. Geena asked Linda what she would do if she was pregnant? Linda with coldness in her voice had no hesitation in informing a somewhat shocked Geena, that if she was indeed pregnant she would have an abortion without a second thought.
However despite Linda's bravado in solving her possible pregnancy, the matter was clearly troubling her. When she eventually ran a pregnancy test and it was negative she told Geena she was delighted however when Geena's back was turned a tinge of sadness came over Linda's face. Perhaps the idea of becoming a mother wasn't so dreadful to her after all?
Linda soon had chance to play mothers when she became a surrogate mum when Mike's long-lost son 12-year old son Adam arrived in need of a family and she encouraged Mike to get custody off Ken Barlow. Linda had plenty of experience raising children and with Adam she showed a whole softer side. Adam also liked her in return. This didn't stop Ken Barlow for making jibes in the custody fight. Was Linda lining Adam up to take over where Mark left off when he was older? However as far as Mike and Adam and even the viewers were concerned, Linda was the dutiful stepmother. She did confide to Geena she owed Mike another son after destroying his relationship with Mark. However it was quite apparent that Linda's displays of motherly fondness for Adam were genuine.
The Baldwin marriage trundled on quite merrily and Mike was delighted to go home to a wife and son in the evenings. Mike was gutted when Adam wanted to go back to his old school in Scotland and this would mean boarding. Linda, Ken and others managed to persuade Mike eventually, this was the best thing for Adam. Linda really did have Adam's best interests at heart and knew with the death of his mother Susan Barlow, he was probably better off with all his old friends.
In June 2001 Mike found out that ex-wife Alma was dying of cancer. Mike went to the Lake District to talk to his ex. Mike went to be at her side regretting all that had gone on between them in the past. Alma always was and always will be the love of Mike's life and despite however much he then loved Linda, his feelings for Linda didn't come close to what he truly felt about Alma. It took Alma's illness for Mike to finally admit this to himself.
Linda's jealousy and insecurity reared its ugly head again. Alma had been a threat in Linda's eyes since day one and now she was ill she was more of a threat than ever in Linda's warped mind. At first Linda didn't know Audrey had informed Mike that Alma was dying of cancer and Mike foolishly didn't tell her until a whole chain of events were set in motion that would ultimately bring down Mike and Linda's shaky but happy marriage.
While Mike was in the Lake District, Linda had chosen not to believe that Alma was dying and furthermore didn't care. So out of anger she had a one night stand with Mike's business rival, Harvey Reuban. Meanwhile Alma persuaded Mike to get on with the rest of his life and return to Linda, she was his future and would be still there when Alma was gone. When Mike got home he found that his wife had been sleeping with Harvey Rueben. As far as Linda was concerned, if Mike could sleep with Alma, she could with Harvey. Mike hit her (an incident Harvey Rueben would later tell police).
Linda didn't believe the cancer story one bit. She visited Alma and scoffed at it in one of her most hateful moments. However Alma collapsed in front of her and Linda had to call 999. As the reality began to sink in, Linda was delighted to be rid of the woman she perceived to be a threat to her marriage but the damge she had done to herself and in the marriage was also starting to sink in too. But as Alma's illness progressively got worse, Mike spent more and more time with her and didn't care what Linda thought or said about it. Linda went to Audrey's as Alma's closest friends gathered for Alma's final hours. Linda went on the pretext to give Mike a Father's Day card from Adam but she stayed on for Alma's final swan song. When Alma was dead, a triumphant smile broke out on Linda's face as she stood behind everyone.
With Alma dead, Mike was heartbroken at his loss and furious with Linda. He couldn't find it in his heart to forgive her. However for the sake of son Adam, he and Linda put on a charade of happy families throughout the school summer holidays.
However with Alma dead, Linda still hit out with bitchy comments such as "even in death I'm second best to her." And how lucky Alma was to be dead as it meant she didn't have to put up with Mike. However underneath Linda was very unhappy and regretting her actions over Harvey Rueben and was beginning to understand Mike's loss over Alma. She even confided in her best friend Geena that she did love Mike despite what people thought and couldn't live without Mike. However Linda knew this time she had screwed up.
Despite attempts to understand Mike's grief and informing him how sorry she was, Mike still couldn't and wouldn't forgive her!
Ever the bad penny, Mark turned up 3rd September 2001 in Weatherfield looking for his father. He had heard about former stepmother Alma's death. Mike had obeyed one of Alma's last dying wishes to contact Mark. The letter had explained about Alma's death and now Mark wanted to pay his last respects. Geena urged Mark to leave Weatherfield immediately. The last thing her best friend Linda needed right now was Mark turning up again. As far as Geena was concerned Linda and Mike's marriage was back on track after hitting the rocks following Alma's illness and subsequent death. This however wasn't the truth at this point.
Mark had missed Mike in Weatherfield. He and Linda had already headed off to Fred Elliott and Linda's mother Eve Sykes wedding and wouldn't be back for a couple of days. However Mark had to get back to Germany to start a new job and was determined that he must see his Dad before he left. Audrey also wanted to see Fred before the wedding so both Mark and Audrey headed off together to the wedding to mend fences. On route Audrey filled Mark in on the troubled marriage of Mike and Linda - only 51 weeks old.
Meanwhile the Baldwin marriage really did seem to be getting back on track. After Adam went back to boarding school at the end of August 2001, Mike had looked into divorcing Linda, however was advised by his solicitor to make his assets un-touchable before going any further. However now caught up in the emotion of the wedding, Linda and Mike seemed to patch up their marriage. Mike began to reconsider his options after all at his age how easy would it be to get another wife or a woman to care for him he thought? Linda had told him enough times how sorry she was and how much she loved him. To top it all for their first wedding anniversary Linda had given Mike a specially prepared photo album of photos of Adam she had put together. Being a paper anniversary she had deliberately gone to the trouble to give him something made out of paper that would be meaningful. Mike was touched.
On the night before the wedding Linda and Mike slept together again for the first time in ages - and as it turned out, it would be the last time. The next morning Linda commented to Mike how emotional she was feeling and something felt different inside. Perhaps it was down to the wedding she concluded? The viewer was left to second guess was it more? However just then Mark chose to make his presence known at the hotel where the wedding party were staying.
Mike and Mark made up and Mike said that he was seriously thinking of settling down with Linda for good and that she was sorry etc. Mark tried to talk him out of it. Later on Mark confronted Linda. Breaking his father's confidence by revealing that Mike was divorcing her. He didn't add that Mike was re-considering this. Linda didn't believe Mark's twisted facts. However he continued to wind her up that his Dad had finished with her. Mark wound Linda up to the point that she finally snapped and said she "could play Mike like a violin."
Unbeknown to Linda and Mark, Mike had overheard the last part of their conversation. So chose to believe Linda was out to use him yet again.
Whether Linda was out to use Mike again or not, the viewer could never be sure of - it was very open-ended. However this time Mike told her it was over and gave her 30 minutes to get out of his life once and for all.
It was clear despite the hatred, the old feelings of passion were still there between Linda and particularly Mark. Mark appeared to go and hunt out Linda. Linda was also looking out her window and saw him wondering the gardens. She seemed to connect up with Mark in the hotel gardens. She had nothing to lose now. Mark had seen to it that her marriage was well and truly over. Mark and Linda kissed but it was Linda who chose to pull away from the kiss while Mark was happy to continue it. The viewer never found out what these two talked about in their last moments of passion.
Audrey unfortunately had seen the kiss and told Mark she was disgusted with him, she would expect that sort of behaviour from Linda but Mark was Mike's son. Who should be walking by at this moment? Mike! He wanted to know what Audrey and Mark were discussing. Mark decided to go for broke and told Mike the truth. However he twisted the whole story on to Linda - it was all her fault - but Mark would understand if Mike never wanted to speak to him again. Mike was so furious with Linda at that moment and having just made up with his son, he didn't want to lose Mark again. So Mike chose to believe Mark's version this time round.
In a blind rage Mike headed up to his hotel room where he found Linda packing. Scared, Linda fled into the bathroom. Mike would hear no more of her excuses. Choosing to accept Mark was the complete innocent, Mike broke down the bathroom door and dragged Linda out of the bathroom, down stairs to the front of the hotel where Maxine and Ashley witnessed them fighting. Mike hit Linda and when Mark stepped in to try and stop it, Mike told his son to "get her out of my sight". Mike and Mark bundled a protesting Linda into the back seat of his car and later Maxine witnessed someone drive the car off at high speed. Mark and a bruised Mike were later seen discussing whether or not they had made the right decision to get rid of Linda? It wasn't known at this time what they meant by it. One thing was for certain Linda was never seen in Weatherfield again.
The question is how innocent was Mark? Did he know where Linda was in the following mystery? Do they still keep in touch even now 3 years later? Perhaps we'll never know. One thing is for certain Mark then went back to Germany which is where the police caught up with him a month later. Mark has never returned to Weatherfield.
The police arrived at Mike Baldwin's flat and arrested him on suspicion of murdering Linda in October 2001. They then wanted to contact Mark. Had either Mark or Mike been involved with Linda's disappearance? Lucky for Mark the police soon only had one suspect - Mike! None of Linda's bank cards had been used, her accounts untouched and her mobile phone not used since she disappeared.
Mike would claim that Linda returned to the flat to collect her passport and she had gone abroad on holiday. The police soon found her passport in Mike's flat. It was already known by many in the Street she had left behind everything she owned either at Mike's flat or in the hotel.
Mike protested his innocence.
Linda was not seen again and so began a murder/mystery that never really took off. For a time it had looked like Mike with or without Mark had killed Linda. Particularly when in October his car was pulled out of a river containing one of Linda's shoes, but no Linda. Added to which the police could not find any trace of her. So if she was alive she had got to wherever she was going with one shoe and just the clothes on her back.
On 21st April 2002 episode of Coronation Street, it was revealed that Linda was living in Dublin and had a new boyfriend (although she wasn't seen on screen). Linda's father told Eve and that's how the viewers found out too. According to Ray, Linda had abandoned the car with the keys in it. She wanted a complete clean break from Mike following everything and gone to Dublin the furthest she could get from Weatherfield without a passport. She hadn't been aware of the following murder investigation and now it was assumed Mike's car had been taken by joy riders. She had only recently got in touch with her father now she had her life back on track.
Now in one of soaps sloppiest story wrap ups - completely out of character for Linda, she wanted a quickly divorce and out of character for Linda didn't want any of the Baldwin money she was due in any divorce suite. Linda certainly wouldn't have left a car - sold it perhaps, but left it at the mercy of thief's seems very unlikely. Ray revealed to Eve that Linda had apparently been storing money away for some time knowing her marriage would one day end with Mike. Again, seems unlikely, firstly with all her property back in Weatherfield she had no way to access these secret funds (no ID etc) and she would of fought for her marriage to Mike until the bitter end.
Many loop-holes in this story were not cleared up, hopefully leaving it open should one day the scriptwriters or Jacqueline Pirie decide that Linda should return to Weatherfield.
In August 2003 in a major poll for Inside Soap, the Mike and Linda wedding of September 2000 was voted by over 60% as best soap wedding - despite many major soap weddings before and since
Over the years Mike has made the occasional reference to Linda. In one to Fred he admitted that he had had happy times with her despite all the heartache she caused. In another he referred to her "the whole Linda mistake."
On Monday 13 September 2004 - Karen MacDonald told us something of her past and this involved Linda. Linda had watched out for Karen at school. Karen's parents were very poor but they were very religious and had nothing materialistic at all. Karen was bullied at school for her clothes and her parents. Linda lived on the same estate as Karen "and a hard case even back then" stuck up for Karen. At around 15 years Karen started to hang out more with the Sykes family. There she would eat crisps, drink lemonade and other things, watch televison and above all smoke. All these things were disapproved of by her parents. When Karen's parents found out about Karen's activities while in the company of Linda, they beat Karen black and blue and told her she was going to burn in hell. Karen left home there and then and had nothing more to do with her parents. Karen moved in and slept on the Sykes sofa. Karen explained to Steve it didn't really matter because people were always coming and going in the Sykes household so it made no difference to them to have someone else.
On Friday 5 November 2004 - the viewer learned that Linda was still living in Dublin. Karen informed Steve that Linda had phoned (a bit improbable so suddenly after 3 years - did she even know where Karen was currently living?) and invited Karen and Steve to Dublin for the weekend. Beautiful city great bars etc. Karen would love it according to Linda. However Steve refused to go saying they couldn't afford it. It was finally decided that Karen would enjoy it far better on her own and she would be able to catch up with Linda much better.
So why did Linda go into hiding and not return for Mike's money? We know the off-screen reason, the actress had quit. However do we really know the on screen reason? Is Linda hiding something from Mike? How did she really get to Dublin without help? We will probably never know. One thing that is possible however is Mark could be back sometime and perhaps even Linda. It was announced recently that there are plans for Mike Baldwin to finally be written out in 2006 and there is going to be a fight for the Baldwin money. Also suddenly there have been a lot of Linda references. Could it be just for the exit story of Karen? Or is it setting the seed for something else with Mike's less than perfect relationship with Penny?
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