Alma Halliwell (previously Sedgewick and Baldwin) married café owner Jim Sedgewick in 1976. The marriage was a disaster, and when Alma fell pregnant a year later she had an abortion rather than bring a child into a loveless home.
Alma made her Coronation Street debut in 1981, and her marriage to Jim finally folded in 1982, Alma got Jim's Cafe in Rosamund Street in the divorce settlement. Jim ran off with a florist and Alma went to Florida with pools winner Philip. Unable to deal with his new fortune, Philip squandered money on sex, drugs, booze, and bad investments.
In 1988, Alma argued with Gail Tilsley over a sandwich round that Gail had started at the cafe with the help of Gina Seddon. Alma wanted the round to stop, stating that Gail should be concentrating fully on the cafe. Gail threatened to resign unless Alma allowed the sandwich round to continue and also wanted a share of the profits. Alma finally caved in and agreed.
By 1989 Alma was broke, and returned to Weatherfield to run the café, of which Gail Tilsley bought a 40% share for £9,000. She fell for Mike Baldwin immediately, and managed to seduce him after beating him in a game of golf. He then dumped her for Dawn Prescott. Alma took up briefly with married man Terry Conway, before returning to Mike as his live-in lover in his luxury dockland apartment.
Mike had sold his factory and was looking around for a new investment, but a dodgy Spanish land deal went sour and Mike lost his money. Returning to the rag trade, Mike operated a sweatshop in the café flat, until it was closed down by Health and Safety Officials for noise pollution. He then took up work as a salesman at Ingram's factory - and after the death of boss Peter Ingram, took up with his wife Jackie. After fretting over which woman to remain with, he dumped Alma in December 1990. A distraught Alma spent time with best friend Audrey Roberts to recover, then got some revenge by vandalising Jackie's bedroom.
Mike still had feelings for Alma, and even felt a debt of responsibility. Without her knowledge he was contributing to the rent of Jim's cafe. These payments were to bring about the destruction Mike's relationship with Jackie. Two weeks after they were married in July 1991, she learnt about the money and initiated divorce proceedings. Meanwhile, Alma had taken up with reliable Ken Barlow after meeting him at a Spanish night class. He planned to take her to a hotel for New Year's Eve. Alma though was still irresistably drawn to Mike. She spent Christmas Day with him, and when she confessed to Ken at the hotel, he dumped her and left. Mike pursued her again, and they were married in June 1992.
Alma settled down to her work at the café with Gail and an assortment of helpers like Audrey, Martin Platt, Phyllis Pearce, and later, Roy Cropper. She also rented the flat above the café to a host of Street luminaries including Angie Freeman, Fiona Middleton, Steve McDonald, Maxine Heavey, and the notorious Tanya Pooley.
Alma's marriage was not perfect. In particular, she was well aware of Mike's arrogant and underhand treatment of people, and often found herself apologising to others for his behaviour. She had sympathised in the past with Ken, Jim McDonald, and even Don Brennan (before he tried to kill her.) Secondly, Mike had a habit of patronising his wife and making decisions, overriding her opinion. In January 1995, Jim Sedgewick died and Alma inherited £2,000 - Mike was put out when Alma splashed out on a convertible MG. And the same year when she managed to get a job catering for the Wheatsheaf pub, Mike's chauvinistic dismissal of her talents compelled her to develop the sideline into ABC Catering (Alma Baldwin Catering). Alma was also only too aware of Mike's roving eye, and has acted jealously when Mike has stepped in to help long-time friend Deirdre Rachid, and when he employed Liz McDonald.
In January 1996, misfortune visited the Baldwins in the shape of Audrey Roberts' adopted son Stephen Reid, who arrived from Canada as a representative of Kbec clothing. He was looking for an English manufacturing base, and asked Alma to provide catering for a business presentation. Alma was attracted to Stephen and later made a pass at him, which was embarrasingly rebuffed. Later, she was incensed when she admitted the incident to Mike and he told her he wasn't worried. Mike won the contract to make clothing and re-established a factory, selling his garage to Don Brennan at an inflated price. Don went bankrupt and his girlfriend Josie Clarke left him. He nursed a grievance against Mike that intensified when he was done for drink driving when about to pick Mike up in his taxi.
Don's hatred was to threaten Alma's life. He attempted to commit suicide, and left a threatening message on the factory answer machine. When Stephen heard about what had happened, he cancelled the contract with Mike, who blamed Alma. When Stephen later taunted Alma with her feelings, and accused her of secretly enjoying it when he ruined Mike, Alma finally dismissed Stephen and was fully reconciled with her husband. The affair caused ructions in her friendships. Audrey wouldn't hear a word against her son and accused her of being angry because Stephen had rejected her.
Mike needed capital to continue with the factory, and when Alma offered to sell her share in the café, Gail felt that she was left high and dry. When Stephen accused her of trying to wreck Gail's business to get to him she slapped him. Alma was set to sell to pizza chain Pizza Heaven, and dismissed an offer by Roy Cropper, believing him mentally incompetent. But when Gail pleaded with her she relented and Roy bought her share for £35,000. Alma and Gail were friends again.
Mike continued in the factory selling counterfiet Kbec gear, until Don burned the factory down and shopped Mike for arson and insurance fraud. Initially, even Alma doubted his innocence. Lack of proof meant that the police never charged Mike however, and Don looked at other means of revenge and chose Alma. He kidnapped her in his taxi, taking her on a terror trip around Weatherfield, pouring out his complaints, before plunging into the river Irwell. Alma was lucky to escape with her life and Don was sent to a mental institution. After the stress, Alma wanted to emigrate to Florida.
Mike again upset her by dismissing her dreams and embarking on a business deal with Angie Freeman to found Underworld underwear factory in Coronation Street. She looked around for a job and Curly Watts accepted her at Firman's Freezers. Once more Mike bowled in with other ideas, whisking Alma away for a holiday to Cyprus, telling Curly to forget her job.
When they returned however, Alma was determined that Mike would not get the better of her. She secured a shelf-stacker's position at Firman's and was soon made Employee of the Month - her face even featured in Firman's promotions. Don was not yet finished with the baldwins. Alma visited him in hospital and he apologised to her but he later escaped and attacked Mike with a chair-leg at the Factory. Failing to kill him, he took Alma's car, ploughing into the viaduct and killed himself.
At Firman's, shy assistant manager Hayley Patterson latched onto Alma, who introduced her to fellow lonely-heart Roy Cropper. Friendship blossomed, until Hayley told Roy she was a transsexual waiting for her gender reassignment operation. Roy rejected her, and Hayley confided her secret with Alma, who was caring and sympathetic. Hayley and Roy were eventually reunited shortly before she left to go abroad for her final operations.
On the domestic front, Alma had to cope with an unwelcome guest. Deirdre Rachid was charged with fraud and as usual Mike had stepped in to help her, offering her a place to stay. Alma was not best pleased, especially when she was placed on suicide watch after Mike caught Deirdre staring wistfully at some pills. Deirdre was eventually convicted and sent to jail, but shortly afterwards released after new evidence of Jon Lindsay's criminal activities.
Hayley returned to Weatherfield in June 1998 and restarted her relationship with Roy, to Alma's concern, but happiness. She was amazed when Hayley passed a test and got a job in Mike's factory.
Accidentally, she told Mike that Hayley was transsexual after a social security mix-up and Mike decided to sack her, to Alma's horror. She pleaded and eventually scolded Mike to give her her job back and eventually he relented, but never really accepted her. When Hayley's secret finally did come out to the factory, Roy launched an attack on Alma for telling her in the first place.
In February 1999, Roy and Hayley fell out just before the Valentines Disco but Alma persuaded Roy not to give up on her and to go along. He did, and he proposed to Hayley there and then. Alma was asked to be Matron of Honour, and allowed Hayley to stay at their house the night before the wedding, in April, to Mike's displeasure.
In May 1999, Alma discovered that Mike had been blackmailed following an affair with Julia Stone and they separated. Alma moved in with the recently widowed Audrey. Despite some attempt to reconcile, she realised that she no longer loved him as she had done and the marriage was over. Later that summer, she heard that Mike had been seeing another woman, and was visited by Hayley, who told her it was Mike's mouthy machinist, Linda Sykes. Alma then divorced Mike citing unreconcilable differences. Or maybe she had just had enough of Mike's duplicitous nature... and Linda Sykes.
Later, she was pursued by Councillor Bob Bradshaw, but it didn't last, because he eventally arrested for taking bribes.
In October 2000, Alma, along with Mike, Ken and others, was held hostage at gunpoint in the Freshco's seige by the man who turned to be Linda Sykes' brother. During this time, she became friendly with retiring security guard Frank O'Connor. They escaped unharmed and Alma and Frank became good friends.
In 2001, Alma received devasting news: a misdiagnosis, combined with a missed smear test at the hospital, meant she had developed cervical cancer that had extended to such a degree, that even if she did receive treatment it wouldn't do any good. In short - Alma had terminal cancer of the cervix.
Alma, not wanting to die in hospital, past away peacefully in her home on 17th June 2001.