List of Coronation Street characters (1996)

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The following is a list of characters that first appeared in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street in 1996, by order of first appearance.

Stephen Reid[edit]

Stephen Reid
Coronation Street character
Portrayed by Todd Boyce
Duration 1996–1997, 2007
First appearance 29 January 1996
Last appearance 26 December 2007
Introduced by Sue Pritchard (1996)
Steve Frost (2007)
Classification Former; recurring
Home Milan

Stephen Reid (also Potter) is the son of Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls), whom her father insisted she gave up for adoption after she gave birth to him at 16. Malcolm Reid, a neighbour and old boyfriend of Audrey, adopted Stephen and later emigrated to Canada.

In January 1996, Stephen arrived in Weatherfield to get to know his biological mother and carry out some business for his firm KBec with local tycoon Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs). During his stay, Mike's wife and Audrey's best friend, Alma Baldwin (Amanda Barrie) became besotted by him and made her feelings clear but Stephen was not interested and returned to Canada once his work was completed. Stephen's nephew, Nick Tilsley (Adam Rickitt), later went to stay with his uncle in Canada for several months when he started to become troublesome towards his mother, Stephen's half-sister Gail Platt (Helen Worth) and stepfather Martin Platt (Sean Wilson). In 1999, following the break-up of his marriage to Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson), Nick again turned to Stephen, who offered him a job in Canada. Over the years Audrey has maintained regular contact with Stephen and has even visited him a number of times. Gail's third husband Richard Hillman (Brian Capron) also took her to Canada for an impromptu visit at Christmas 2001.

On 10 December 2007, Stephen returned to Weatherfield to spend Christmas with Audrey en route to Italy, from where he intended to expand his business empire into Europe. On 14 December, Stephen invited his youngest nephew David Platt (Jack P. Shepherd) to join him in his Italian home and he accepted, to the disappointment of his niece and David's half-sister Sarah Platt (Tina O'Brien). On 21 December David's ambitions were ruined when Sarah bought some ecstasy tablets from a drug dealer in Leanne's restaurant Valandros and put them in David's drawer in Audrey's Salon. Audrey opened the drawer and discovered the pills. After deciding that David was too much of a troublemaker, Stephen left Weatherfield on Boxing Day and was joined by Sarah and her daughter Bethany (Emily Walton) four days later. Gail visited them in June 2008.

Kelly Thomson[edit]

Kelly Thomson
Coronation Street character
Portrayed by Sarah Moffett
First appearance 9 February 1996
Last appearance 20 December 1996
Introduced by Sue Pritchard
Classification Former; regular
Occupation Childminder

Kelly Thomson was played by Sarah Moffett. Kelly first appears on 9 February 1996 when Ken Barlow (William Roache) hires her as a child minder for his son Daniel Osbourne (Lewis Harney). She later moves in with the family, and begins a relationship with Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold) which ends later in the year when she agrees to follow Daniel and his mother Denise (Denise Black) up to Scotland to continue with her job but now working for Denise instead of Ken.

Joyce Smedley[edit]

Joyce Smedley
Coronation Street character
Portrayed by Anita Carey
Duration 1996–1997
First appearance 23 February 1996
Last appearance 21 February 1997
Introduced by Sue Pritchard
Classification Former; regular
Occupation Cleaner

Joyce Smedley was played by Anita Carey. Joyce is introduced in February as the mother of Judy Mallett (Gaynor Faye). Joyce takes a job as a cleaner at The Rovers Return Inn and becomes a love interest to both Alec Gilroy (Roy Barraclough) and Percy Sugden (Bill Waddington), although she did not encourage Percy. In February 1997, whilst walking her dog, Scamper, Joyce was run over and killed by a car driven by Tony Horrocks (Lee Warburton).

Claire Palmer[edit]

Claire Palmer
Coronation Street character
Portrayed by Maggie Norris
Duration 1996–1997
First appearance 8 May 1996
Last appearance 14 April 1997
Introduced by Sue Pritchard
Classification Former; regular

Claire Palmer is the girlfriend of Des Barnes (Phillip Middlemiss), who first appeared on 8 May 1996 played by Maggie Norris. Des and Claire have a whirlwind romance, and she moves in with him two months later, despite still claiming her dead husband's army pension. The Palmers are forced to move out again to avoid being found out, but by the end of the year, Claire gives up the pension for Des. A few months later however, Claire sees Des make a pass at Samantha Failsworth (Tina Hobley) and immediately packs her bags and leaves.

Becky Palmer[edit]

Becky Palmer
Coronation Street character
Portrayed by Emily Aston
Duration 1996–1997
First appearance 20 May 1996
Last appearance 16 March 1997
Introduced by Sue Pritchard
Classification Former; regular

Rebecca "Becky" Palmer is the daughter of Claire Palmer (Maggie Norris), and first appears on 20 May 1996 played by Emily Aston. Becky moves to the Street when her mother meets Des Barnes (Phillip Middlemiss) at the market and they begin a relationship. When Des and Claire split up the following year, Becky moves away with her mother.

Samantha Failsworth[edit]

Samantha Failsworth
Coronation Street character
Portrayed by Tina Hobley
Duration 1996–1998
First appearance 17 July 1996
Last appearance 15 June 1998
Introduced by Sue Pritchard
Classification Former; regular
Occupation Barmaid

Samantha Failsworth (previously Fitzgerald) is played by Tina Hobley. Samantha makes her first appearance on 17 July 1996 when she asks landlord Jack Duckworth for a job in the Rovers Return. Jack likes the look of her, and without his wife Vera's approval, he takes her on. When Vera returns she is furious, but Samantha wins her over referring to Vera as the boss rather than Jack. Samantha later moves into the Street, house-sharing with newly-single Curly Watts and after ending Des Barnes's relationship with Claire Palmer, she begins dating Des.

In late 1997, Samantha's estranged husband Ritchie Fitzgerald turned up hoping for a reconciliation. Instead he faced months of Samantha claiming their marriage is dead, before spending the night together behind Des's back. Nevertheless, Samantha went ahead with divorce proceedings until Des found out and Samantha was again undecided of which man to choose. Ritchie gave up on his marriage and Des forgave her until she again cheated on him with mechanic Chris Collins in 1998.

Following their split, Des became close to Natalie Horrocks and Samantha was envious. She told them that she was pregnant with Des's child, then said she had an abortion. It was eventually revealed that there had been no baby to begin with, but Samantha went back on her lies and maintained she had suffered a miscarriage. In the end, Samantha told Des she was still pregnant with his child and left Weatherfield in June 1998. Although Natalie firmly believed she was lying, Des was never sure, and Samantha was never heard from again.

Robert Preston[edit]

Robert Preston
Coronation Street character
Portrayed by
Duration 1996, 1999, 2003, 2015–
First appearance 11 November 1996
Introduced by
Classification Present; regular
Occupation Carpet fitter
Restaurant owner
Home 9 Victoria Court

Robert Preston made his first screen appearance on 11 November 1996. The character was played by Julian Kay from his introduction until 2003 and by Tristan Gemmill from 2015.

On 6 April 2015, it was announced that Robert would be returning to Coronation Street later in the year. According to The Sun an actor had yet to be cast but producers are looking for someone around the age of 35.[1] On 10 May, it was confirmed that Tristan Gemmill had been cast in the role.[2] Gemmill has been contracted for a year and he commented, "I'm excited to be joining such an iconic show. Coronation Street is a great British institution and it will be a huge challenge to meet the expectations of its devoted audience. But it is a challenge I am really looking forward to."[2] Robert returned for the funeral of Deirdre Barlow (Anne Kirkbride).[2]

Robert is the fiancé of Tracy Barlow (Dawn Acton). In 1996, Deirdre and Ken meet Robert Preston, their future son-in-law, and take to him. Shirley (Maggie Tagney) and Maurice Preston (Seamus O'Neill) have tea with the Barlows and Robert. Tracy is nervous to meet her new in-laws and Ken is put out when working class Maurice takes against him for being a teacher. Deirdre is upset when the Prestons tell her that they don't want Robert to marry Tracy as he's on the rebound. Eventually the wedding day arrives. Maurice Preston tells the Barlows that Robert and his best man, Paul Davies, have disappeared and never returned from the stag night. He thinks Robert has changed his mind about marrying Tracy but she is adamant he'll turn up. Ken and Deirdre drive around trying to find Robert. One of his friends, Greg, remembers locking him in a container in a freight yard. They go to look for him but all the containers are empty apart from two sealed ones which are on their way to Saudi Arabia. Deirdre has to stop herself from going for Greg. The police are called in to stop the shipment, fearing Robert could have suffocated. Ken and Deirdre return home to find Robert there, being shouted at by Tracy for seeing her before the service. He explains he let himself out of the container. Tracy and Robert are married, afterwards Ken makes a speech and Percy produces the wedding cake. After the wedding in 1996, Robert doesn't appear for three years.

Robert returns in March 1999 - after Tracy goes on a spending spree using his credit card. Ken is shocked when Robert turns up, demanding to see Tracy. He explains he caught Tracy kissing another man. Ken refuses to tell him where Tracy is but lets him stay the night. Tracy refuses to explain herself to Robert. Ken and Deirdre succeed in getting the Prestons to sit down together and talk. They get caught in the crossfire when Robert and Tracy row about her friendship with Dan. Robert tells Ken that his marriage is obviously over. Tracy admits to Deirdre that Dan did want an affair with her but she didn't. Deirdre urges her not to make the mistakes she's made and advises her to stick with Robert. Linda chats up Robert and is disappointed when he tells her that he's married. Tracy sees them talking and flares up at him, refusing to talk about a reconciliation. Robert leaves again and appears on the Street once more in October 1999 for Ken's sixtieth birthday party. Robert then leaves the street again, making a final appearance on 1 January 2003. Tracy (now Kate Ford) had returned to the street without Robert, telling Deirdre that she had found Robert in bed with her best friend. Deirdre phones Robert, and asks him to come talk to her. Robert arrives and it soon becomes clear that Tracy was lying - it was she who was caught in bed with Robert's best mate not the other way round. Robert says their marriage is over and leaves. Tracy doesn't care when he tells her that he's going to divorce her, which he does.

Twelve years later, in 2015, Deirdre dies and Robert returns for her funeral. Tracy is surprised to see Robert watching the funeral party from across the street as they leave for the church. Emily recognises Robert at the funeral. Upset, Tracy walks out of the church and Robert follows her. Robert comforts Tracy as she weeps by Blanche's grave. He tells her he came to pay his respects after reading of Deirdre's death in the paper. Steve comes out to fetch Tracy and is introduced to a fellow ex-husband of hers. Back in the street, Robert calls on Tracy at No.1 to give her company. Robert cooks a meal for Tracy. Tracy can't understand why Robert is being so nice to her. Despite his reservations, they start to kiss. Liz persuades Ken to fetch Tracy to the wake. He finds Tracy and Robert in a clinch and throws Robert out, asking Tracy how low she can get. Tony’s former henchmen, Nev and Rik barge into Barlow's Buys and demand money he owes them for some foot spas from Tracy. As they turn menacing, Robert enters the shop and comes to her rescue, sending them packing. Tracy and Robert go for a drink and he tells her he now wants to be a chef. Behind her back, he takes a mobile phone call and tells the ringer a series of lies as to where he's been. Robert tells Tracy how he’s never stopped loving her but she tells him her head's in bits as it is without this.

Robert apologises to Ken for his behaviour after the funeral. Spotting Deirdre's stuffed marrow recipe on the table, he offers to cook it for him and Tracy. Ken and Tracy admit that Robert's stuffed marrow is better than Deirdre's. Ken and Tracy are bored as they sort through Deirdre's paperwork. Tracy is pleased when Robert invites them to a trade fair. Tracy and Robert have wine at No.1, unaware of the visit of Robert's wife, Joni. Ken passes on Joni's message to Robert. He tells Tracy she manages his restaurant. Tony advises Robert to run a mile from Tracy. Ken is pleased that Tracy and Robert have got back together and compares them to him and Deirdre. At the restaurant, Joni apologises to Robert, who hides his guilt. When Tracy gets a text from Robert cancelling their evening together as he has to work, Beth suggests they visit him. But in 2017, he got a new woman in his life in Steve McDonald's soon-to-be-former-wife, Michelle Connor, and they became a romantic couple, then he wants her to divorce Steve, and move in with him for romance and business..