|Coronation Street character|
|Portrayed by||Brian Capron|
|First appearance||20 June 2001|
|Last appearance||14 March 2003|
|Introduced by||Jane Macnaught|
|Book appearances||Coronation Street: The Complete Saga|
Richard Charles Hillman was a fictional character in the British television soap opera Coronation Street, played by Brian Capron. Hillman is now rated as one of the best soap villains of all time. Coincidentally, Richard's death was also the 100th death featured on the show.
Creation and development
Speaking of playing Richard, Capron said: "He’s a wonderful character to play and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I love the fact that Richard has two sides to him, there’s the loving family man and the psychopath. He’s got a real dark side to him, it’s kind of like a psychopathic nature. He comes across as this normal nice guy on the outside but if people knew what he’d done they’d be stunned. In his head I think he seriously believes he loves his family but who knows what goes on in his head."
In January 2002, it was rumored that Coronation Street executive producer Carolyn Reynolds would be axing a number of characters in a bid for the show to beat BBC One soap opera EastEnders in the ratings. Characters that were rumored to be axed were Eileen Grimshaw (Sue Cleaver) and sons Jason Grimshaw (Ryan Thomas), Todd Grimshaw (Bruno Langley), Dev Alahan (Jimmi Harkishin), Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay) as well as Richard. A source commented: "It’s Carolyn ‘Chainsaw’ Reynolds from here on in. There’s that much chopping to do that if she used an axe it would take forever. The former producer Brian Park chopped his way through nine characters, but Carolyn is close to knocking off a dozen. It hasn’t done much for cast morale. Only last year the top earners had to sign up for pay cuts or face the chop themselves. "New "strong" characters will be brought in over the coming months, but the number will be limited in order to keep the wage bill down." These rumors were later proved to be false.
Richard Hillman is renowned as one of the greatest soap villains of all time. Throughout his time on the soap, he turned from a conniving fraudster into a fully-fledged serial killer, becoming known as 'Killman' Hillman by the press. He murdered one Street resident as well as his first wife and attempted to kill several others, including his own wife, two stepchildren, and step-granddaughter, as well as being partly responsible for the death of Duggie Ferguson. Throughout these storylines ITV used elaborate trailers using the phrase 'Killer Corrie' which later was used to describe other storylines.
Asked how are people reacting to the storyline Brian Capron said in an interview with Digital Spy: "It’s great, it really seems to be capturing people’s imaginations. Everyone just wants to know what he’s going to do next and if he’ll kill Gail. I don’t know what the writers have got planned for Richard but he’s definitely not finished yet I can promise that. I think he’ll be homing in on one or two of the street’s best-loved residents. He’s definitely going to get nastier before he gets his comeuppance".
Before arriving in Coronation Street, Richard Hillman, a financial advisor, has been married twice before. He and his first wife, Marian, tried for many years to have a child without success. When Richard's mother falls ill, Marian decides that she doesn't want to look after an old age pensioner when she wants a baby, so she leaves Richard and the two divorce. Sometime later, Richard's mother has died and Richard married his second wife, Patricia (Annabelle Apsion). Like Marian, Patricia wants children, and she and Richard are shocked to discover that he is sterile. Knowing that Richard and Marian had tried unsuccessfully to have a child, Patricia believes that Richard has deceived her about his fertility, though Richard later tells his third wife Gail Platt (Helen Worth) that he had always believed that Marian was at fault and was stunned to discover that he was in fact, responsible. Whatever the reason, Patricia and Richard divorce.
Richard makes his first appearance when he attends Alma Baldwin's (Amanda Barrie) funeral in the summer of 2001, claiming to be her cousin. He quickly befriends Gail Platt, eventually forming a romantic relationship with her. Richard moves in with her, winning over her children Sarah-Louise (Tina O'Brien) and David (Jack P. Shepherd) by buying them expensive gifts. Richard's dealings are questioned after Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) learns that Richard was responsible for several elderly people losing their savings.
Richard sets up a business called Kellett Towers, which specialises in buy-back mortgages - he would buy the house but the occupant would be free to live there until their death. Richard also goes into business with Duggie Ferguson (John Bowe), building an estate of new homes. Hillman confronts Duggie at the flats during a disagreement about Duggie's shoddy workmanship. During the argument, Duggie falls several floors when a banister gives way (ironically, due to his own shoddy workmanship). Duggie is critically injured and Richard leaves him to die, opportunistically allowing the incident to remove his unwanted business partner. He panics at first, whipping out his mobile and dialing emergency services. However, he only dials '99' before stopping, then he goes to Duggie's flat to steal the cash Duggie stored there.
In May 2002, Richard's ex-wife, Patricia, inconveniently turns up as Richard finalises his and Gail's wedding plans. As she was moving to Australia, Patricia wants to cash in her directorship of Kellett Holdings, Richard's property company. Patricia owns 20% of Kellett Holdings, which Richard finally persuades her is worth £25,000. He agrees to hand over the cheque at his Oakhill flats development, where they fight as Richard stalls on the money due to the cost of underpinning work. In the ensuing struggle, Patricia falls into the underpinning trench and Richard hit her in the face with a spade, killing her immediately. The next day, her body is covered in tons of cement for the underpinnings. Gail and Richard are married on 26 July 2002.
Over the following months with his business going downhill, Richard learned that Gail's mother, Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) is worth £250,000. Over the next few months, he managed to convince Audrey and her family that she is going senile and tried to kill her by setting a house fire. She survives after being pulled out of the blaze by Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson), who had been passing by and realised that Hillman was trying to kill her. She tries to warn Gail but, already convinced that she is indeed senile, Gail refused to believe her and cut all ties with Audrey. Audrey enlisted her friend Archie Shuttleworth (Roy Hudd) and tries to expose Richard to the police, but they were unsuccessful, as the police say there is no evidence to suggest he was responsible. The pair do however receive help from Norris.
Richard becomes desperate for money and decides to kill again. His next target is Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire), whose house he had bought. Upon Emily's death, he would be free to sell her house. During a 50th birthday party at the Rover's Return pub for Doreen Heavey (Maxine's mother), Richard leaves the pub, disguised himself as Aidan Critchley, and enters Maxine Peacock's (Tracy Shaw) house where Emily is babysitting. Richard attacks Emily with a crowbar, but Maxine returns at that point and confronts him. Richard then beats Maxine to death. He stages a robbery and frames Aiden, who is charged with murder and attempted murder and is remanded in custody. Emily is badly hurt, but survives the attack. Richard receives a phone call that a woman who had sold her home to Richard in a buy-back scheme had died a week prior. He is wracked with guilt, realising that the attempt on Emily's life and Maxine's murder had been pointless, as he had already legally gained possession of the dead woman's home, and would now be able to sell it. Also, the apartments he owns are beginning to sell because the proposed construction of a bail hostel nearby had fallen through.
After drug tests show that Aiden had been drugged with the tranquilizers prescribed for Audrey, Aiden convinces Sarah-Louise Platt that he didn't commit the murder. Gail also learns that Richard had lied about several matters connected to his ex-wife's disappearance. She recalls seeing Richard at the cabinet where the tranquilizers were kept the night of Maxine's murder. She also learns that Richard had lied about his former wife's bracelet, when Steve McDonald reveals that he had found it on the building site. Gail confronts Richard, who confesses to the murders. Horrified, Gail describes her husband as "Norman Bates with a briefcase". Gail also guesses that Richard is sterile and accuses him of not being in love with her, but rather the "ready-made family" that she, David, Sarah and Sarah's daughter, Bethany, provided. Gail then tells the police about Patricia's body under the concrete and they dig her body out of the cement.
Hillman runs away and becomes the most wanted man in Britain, only to return two weeks later intent on killing his entire family and himself. He is in the house when David returns home, and keeps him silent when David's friend, Craig, calls through the window. When Sarah returns later with then-boyfriend Todd, she leaves her daughter Bethany on the sofa. While she is seeing Todd out, Hillman picks up Bethany and tells Sarah that they will both be alright if she does exactly what he says. Gail returns home in the evening, and has her hands tied by Richard. Gail, however, manages to smuggle a pair of nail scissors into her hands on the way out of the house. The children are safe, but are bound and gagged in the family's car. While Gail tells them that she loves them, she puts the scissors in Sarah's hands. Originally, Richard intended to gas the family in the garage, until Audrey calls in and disturbs his plans. With the help of Kevin Webster, Tommy Harris, and Gail's ex-husband Martin Platt they break down the garage door.
However, Hillman drives off, with "You and Me Song" by The Wannadies playing on the CD player in a continuous loop, which he said was a favourite of Sarah-Lou's from a previous summer holiday. Martin, Kevin and Tommy give chase in another car. Sarah cuts David's bonds, slowly but surely, then cuts her own. Sarah then reaches forward and tries to free Gail. Richard tries to pull them back, causing him to swerve all over the road. Hillman eventually drives them into the canal, screaming "This is it! I LOVE YOU!". The various family members managed to free themselves from the vehicle and were rescued by Tommy Harris and Martin Platt. Richard escapes from the car, but drowns moments later. Gail then identifies his body at the canal side.
On 28 January 2006, as Sarah celebrates her 19th birthday, she receives a birthday card signed "I still think of you as my daughter... Love Richard". The Platts put this down to a sick joke, but three weeks later Gail receives a Valentine card from Richard. Gail receives a third card on 14 March 2006, the third anniversary of Richard's death. On Mother's Day, Audrey receives a card. On her birthday, she receives a card from him stating that he would "see her soon". In April, Les Battersby announces that he gave a ride to Richard Hillman in his cab, though this was seen as Les getting in on the gossip. Sarah tries to convince Gail that David is sending the cards. David denies it, however, and starts truanting from school, which causes Gail quite a lot of stress. Gail decides to test David by saying that it is Richard's birthday coming up in June 2006. On Richard's "birthday", she receives a card addressed to Richard. That confirms that David was the one sending the cards, as he didn't realise that Richard's birthday was actually in December.
Richard Hillman is still controlling the way the Platts behave, long after his death. David has been permanently traumatized by the situation, and proves it by acting in vicious or disturbing ways. In October 2007, David drove his car into the canal in exactly the same place as Richard, to the same music. It seems that all these years later, the ordeal is still clear in his head, and still shows no signs of leaving. In March 2008, David pushes Gail down the stairs. ITV said that the episode was made for 14 March as it was five years since Richard died.
The character of Richard Hillman proved to be very successful with viewers and critics. On 13 January 2003, an estimated 15.3 million viewers watched the first instalment of Coronation Street with 15.6 million tuning in to watch Richard murder long-standing character Maxine Peacock in the second episode. The two episodes caused a power surge; a National Grid spokesman said: "Obviously, there was a huge audience which meant at the end of the programme people were getting up, turning lights on, going to the toilet, opening fridge doors and boiling kettles. It's that concentrated period when a programme finishes and millions of people around the country go and do something else other than watching Coronation Street."
The double-bill broadcast on 22 February 2003, in which Richard revealed all to Gail attracted an average of 17.2 million viewers for the first instalment, with the second episode averaging 17.6 million. The second episodes peaked at 19.4 million. A spokesperson for Granada Television stated; "The figures are truly staggering. The phones haven't stopped here with fantastic feedback. The whole nation has woken up and is talking about it." 
On 14 March 2003, 19.4 million viewers (62% audience share) tuned in to see Richard drive the Platt family into the canal. The ratings success of the serial killer storyline made Coronation Street the most-watched UK television programme of 2003 beating rival EastEnders into second place.
At the 2003 British Soap Awards, Capron swept the board for his portrayal of Richard, winning for 'Best Actor', 'Best Exit' and 'Villain of the Year'. His confessions episode was voted 'Most Spectacular Scene' and his murders was voted 'Best Storyline'.
- "UK | England | Corrie killer voted top soap villain". BBC News. 2003-03-04. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "Actor Brian Capron on "Corrie's" Richard - Soaps Interview". Digital Spy. 2002-08-17. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "Street axes further eight characters - TV News". Digital Spy. 2002-01-07. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- Ian, England (2003-01-14). "Entertainment | Street killer attracts 15m viewers". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "Entertainment | Street drama hits ratings high". BBC News. 2003-02-25. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "Entertainment | ITV1's Street heads 2003 ratings". BBC News. 2004-01-07. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "Entertainment | Street sweeps soap awards". BBC News. 2003-05-10. Retrieved 2013-03-20.