Billy Corkhill in 1986
|Portrayed by||John McArdle|
|First appearance||27 August 1985|
|Last appearance||21 September 1990|
|Created by||Phil Redmond|
The Corkhills family (Billy, Doreen, Rod and Tracy) arrive at No.10 in 1985 replacing the Jackson family. The introduction of the Corkhill family in 1985 is considered to be the beginning of Brookside's heyday and that year the soap achieved an audience 8 million viewers for one episode, the highest it had achieved to date.
Billy's loss of work
The Corkhill's tenure on Brookside Close was not to be a happy one. Billy Corkhill and his family were blighted with financial worries. These came to a head in 1986. In 1986, Tracy Corkhill started an affair with one of her teachers, believing him to have taken advantage of his daughter, Billy assaulted the teacher and was sentenced to three months in prison. His sentence was reduced on appeal, however Billy lost his job. Billy is later sacked from another job and the family's debts mount up. Later in the year the family's utilities are cut off and their television repossessed.
Billy's brother Jimmy offers to stage a burglary at their home to solve their financial problems. While the family (and most of the close) are away at son Rod's Police graduation ceremony, Jimmy breaks into their house and stages a burglary, also burgling Paul Collins' house as well to make it a bit more convincing. When the family returns though, Billy is shocked to see how Jimmy has ransacked and vandalised the place,with aerosol spraycans and then stashing all the gear in the loft. Doreen later finds out the burglary was staged but the Collins' don't ever find out about it being an insurance job and while the Corkhills' insurance money pays out, it does not last for long.
Repossession and breakdown
Later in the year the building society bring repossession proceedings against the Corkhill's. A hole appears in the middle of Brookside Close and the neighbours drive over Billy's lawn to go around the hole. Billy sees this as them seeing him as a 'doleite' and a 'non-person', hence they don't mind driving over his lawn. Billy sinks deeper and deeper into self-pity worry and depression. Doreen admits to Billy that she slept with her Dentist boss David Howman in an attempt to relieve the family of their financial worries. On hearing this Billy reaches the end of his tether and in one of Brookside's most famous scenes, repeatedly drives around Brookside Close in his car churning up the neighbours gardens screaming "I'm only a doleite - you can have my wife for a fiver" in reference to Howman.
In a final attempt to solve his financial problems, Billy became involved in an armed robbery on a supermarket acting as driver for shady villain, Jean. In the run up, Barry Grant warns Billy that Jean is bad news and tells him to stay away, however Billy decides to go through with the job, mainly because Jean has now begun to turn the screw and emotionally blackmail him, threatening to harm his daughter Tracy Corkhill. The robbery goes badly wrong and the supermarket manager is stabbed in the back of the car by a member of the gang. Whilst all the other gang members are wearing ski masks, Billy is not and is frantic with worry that he can be identified. The other gang members flee the car - minus the briefcase full of cash - and Billy decides to drive the seriously injured manager to the local accident and emergency ward, where he deserts the car at the scene. Billy later regretted his involvement in the robbery and when his wife Doreen found out, she finally left him and moved to Bristol, ending more than 20 years of marriage.
Breakup with Doreen and marriage to Sheila
After Doreen had left for Bristol, Billy briefly left also and tried to find her. Billy resumes his life with daughter Tracy and son Rod. In May 1988, Bobby Grant leaves Sheila Grant and moves out. Sheila and Billy then kiss on New Year's Eve 1988. Billy and Sheila continue their romance and when they finally sleep together they are discovered by a furious Barry Grant.
The following Year, Sheila receives correspondence from Bobby, asking her for a divorce. Sheila then discovers that Bobby has had his vasectomy reversed and his new girlfriend is pregnant. Once their divorce has come through, Sheila and Billy marry in September 1990 and move to Basingstoke in Hampshire.
Feud with Godden
Billy and Jimmy then start an ongoing feud with Godden, the man who killed their brother Frankie. The feud escalates and so wanting to escape the trouble Sheila, Billy and Claire leave for Basingstoke to start a new life.
Life in Basingstoke
After leaving for Basingstoke, Billy is never seen again, however Sheila makes appearances. Through her appearance in Brookside, Friday the 13th in 1998 the audience learn that Sheila and Billy have recently split up, although in 2001 Jimmy mentioned that Billy and Sheila were "still together" in a conversation with neighbour Diane Murray. This was either a continuity error, or Billy and Sheila are presumed to have reconciled.
- Graham Kibble-White; Phil Redmond (2002-11-04). 20 Years of Brookside. pp. 33–35. ISBN 9781842227640.
- Graham Kibble-White; Phil Redmond (2002-11-04). 20 Years of Brookside. pp. 37–38. ISBN 9781842227640.
- Graham Kibble-White; Phil Redmond (2002-11-04). 20 Years of Brookside. p. 64. ISBN 9781842227640.