|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|
Norman Bates with a Briefcase: The story of Richard Hillman
|Home||8 Coronation Street (2001-2003)|
Richard Charles Hillman is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Coronation Street, played by Brian Capron. Richard first appeared on 20 June 2001 following the death of his cousin Alma Baldwin (Amanda Barrie). He later went on to develop a love interest in Alma's close friend Gail Platt (Helen Worth) and they eventually married on 26 July 2002. By then, the character became the show's main antagonist upon developing a homicidal streak in his bid to save his financially-bankrupt property company: "Kellett Holdings". During the events of his story arc, Richard left his business partner Duggie Ferguson (John Bowe) to die; murders his ex-wife Patricia (Annabelle Apsion) with a shovel; kidnaps Gail's neighbor Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) to stop him from investigating the truth about Kellett Holdings; sets his mother-in-law Audrey Roberts' (Sue Nicholls) house on fire before going on to convince her that she has Alzheimer's disease; embarks on a feud with Audrey's close friend Archie Shuttleworth (Roy Hudd); and attempts to kill Norris' roommate Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire) with a crowbar for money — but ends up killing local landlady Maxine Peacock (Tracy Shaw) and subsequently frames his stepdaughter's ex-boyfriend Aiden Critchley (Dean Ashton) for her murder.
The character ultimately confessed his crimes to Gail in a two-handler episode on 24 February 2003 and soon departed from the show on 14 March 2003; Richard drove himself and his step-family into a canal after abducting them in a last-ditch familicide attempted, but they survived whilst he himself drowned and was later pronounced dead.
He has been rated one of the best soap villains of all time and in the programme itself, alongside the likes of Alan Bradley (Mark Eden) and Pat Phelan (Connor McIntyre). Richard's death was also the 100th death featured in the show.
Before arriving in Coronation Street, Richard Hillman, a financial advisor, had been married twice before. He and his first wife Marian tried for many years to have a baby without success. When Richard's mother falls ill, Marian decides that she doesn't want to look after an old aged pensioner so she leaves Richard. During their separation, Marian dies. 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 responsible. Whatever the reason, Patricia and Richard divorce.
Richard makes his first appearance when he attends Alma Baldwin's (Amanda Barrie) funeral in summer 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. Gail's marriage to Martin Platt (Sean Wilson) had collapsed the previous year.
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 Holdings, which specializes in buy-back mortgages - he would buy the house but the occupant was free to live there until their death. Richard also goes into business with the new Rovers Return landlord Duggie Ferguson (John Bowe), building an estate of new homes. Hillman confronts Duggie at an under construction block of 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 descend into an argument as Richard stalls on the money due to the cost of underpinning work. In the ensuing confronation, Patricia falls into the underpinning trench and spits on Richard's face upon vowing to expose him; in response, Richard hits Patricia on the head with a spade - killing her instantly. 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 learns that Gail's mother, Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) is worth £250,000. Over the next few months, he manages to convince Audrey and her family that she has Alzheimer's disease, even getting the doctor to prescribe her medication for sufferers of the condition, and tries to kill her by setting her house on fire. She survives after being pulled out of the blaze by Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) and tries to warn Gail, but, already convinced that she is indeed senile, Gail refuses to believe her and the pair end up having a quarrel over Audrey's theory about Richard. Eventually, Gail cuts all ties with Audrey after she and her friend Archie Shuttleworth (Roy Hudd) - who became aware of Richard's agenda when the pair had a previous debate over Patricia's funeral - reported Richard due to police, but were unsuccessful due to the lack of evidence.
Richard becomes desperate for money and decides to kill again. His next target is Emily Bishop (Eileen Derbyshire), whose house he had bought. During a birthday party at the Rovers Return pub for Doreen Heavey (Prunella Gee)'s 50th Birthday, Richard leaves the pub, goes to the squat where Sarah's tearaway boyfriend Aidan Critchley is staying and since he drugged him he is able to take and use Critchley's coat and shoes without him waking up. Disguised as Critchley, he enters Doreen's daughter Maxine Peacock's (Tracy Shaw) house where Emily is babysitting. Richard attacks Emily with a crowbar but he is interrupted when Maxine enters the house and confronts him. Richard then kills Maxine and stages a robbery to frame Aiden, who is subsequently charged with murder and attempted murder. Soon afterwards, 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.
The downfall of Richard ironically begins on the day that his money troubles end. He receives the money from the buy-back scheme and puts a deposit on a new expensive house for the family, after which farewell drinks are arranged for him and Gail. Whilst Richard blissfully looks to the future, drug tests show that Aiden was drugged with the tranquilisers prescribed for Audrey. Sarah-Louise visits Aiden in his detention centre where he adamantly tells her that he didn't commit the murder. Audrey tells Gail this who also learns that Richard has lied about several matters connected to his ex-wife's disappearance. She recalls seeing Richard at the cabinet where the tranquilisers were kept on the night of Maxine's murder. Whilst in the Rovers, Richard states to Gail that he doesn't care about Audrey and Archie's accusations because "he's won" before quickly correcting himself to "we've won" - which proves to be one of his fatal errors. Steve McDonald then reveals that he had found a necklace on the building site that Gail was currently wearing, the necklace Richard claimed he bought for her.
After making a farewell speech at everyone's request, Richard spots Gail heading home and follows her. He is stunned when she accuses him of various crimes after finding the tranquilizers in the cupboard. Caught off-guard, Richard confesses to killing Maxine; Gail is shocked, and doesn't buy Richard's excuse when he attempts to put the blame on Aidan for what he did to Sarah. In the ensuing argument between them, Richard finally comes clean about his other crimes to Gail - explaining in full detail how he left Duggie for dead after seeing him fall, and then covering up Patrica's disappearance when he himself murdered her. Realizing that Audrey, Archie, and Norris were all indeed right about Richard all along, Gail describes her husband as "Norman Bates with a briefcase". She then guesses that Richard is sterile and accuses him of not being in love with her, and had merely married her to gain the "ready-made family" that she, David, Sarah and Sarah's daughter, Bethany, provided. Richard is devastated by Gail's words and reluctantly leaves. Gail then tells the police everything, including the location of Patricia's body and they dig it out of the cement - thus confirming Richard as a guilty man.
Richard goes on the run 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 her new boyfriend Todd, she leaves her daughter Bethany on the sofa. After she has seen Todd out, Richard takes them captive. Gail returns home in the evening, and has her hands tied by Richard, however, she 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 Gail's ex-husband Martin (Sean Wilson) and his friends - Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) and Tommy Harris (Thomas Craig) - they break down the garage door.
Richard drives off and Martin, Kevin and Tommy give chase in another car. Richard drives his car into a canal, Gail, Bethany, David and Sarah manage to free themselves from the vehicle and are rescued by Tommy and Martin. Tommy then goes back in the water to try and save Richard, but finds that he has escaped from the car. Later on, the police inform Gail that a body has been found at the canal side; she returns there with Aurdrey, and together they identify the body to be Richard himself. With her husband dead and the troubles he brought on her family and street over at last, Gail heads home with Audrey after throwing the rings that Richard gave her into the canal.
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 along with his second wife, before attempting 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".
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 24 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 12 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 were voted 'Best Storyline'. In a 2003 TVTimes poll, Richard was voted the top soap villain of all time.
- "Actor Brian Capron on "Corrie's" Richard - Soaps Interview". Digital Spy. 17 August 2002. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Street axes further eight characters - TV News". Digital Spy. 7 January 2002. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- Ian, England (14 January 2003). "Entertainment | Street killer attracts 15m viewers". BBC News. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Entertainment | Street drama hits ratings high". BBC News. 25 February 2003. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Entertainment | ITV1's Street heads 2003 ratings". BBC News. 7 January 2004. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Entertainment | Street sweeps soap awards". BBC News. 10 May 2003. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Corrie killer voted top soap villain". BBC News. 4 March 2003. Retrieved 23 November 2018.