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William "Billy" Walker was the son of Rovers Return landlords Jack and Annie Walker who had a brief spell as the pub's licensee after his mother retired in 1984.

Billy grew up in Coronation Street before moving south to make his millions in 1961. Most of the 1960s was spent running garages in London while searching for Miss Right; by 1969, he had been in two serious relationships and engaged once but never married.

In 1970, Jack's sudden death forced Billy to return home to Weatherfield. He did his duty by living at the Rovers and helping out at the pub to support Annie, but resisted the brewery's attempts to install him as landlord, preferring to forge his own path. Returning to his trade, he bought the Canal Garage and divided his time between that and the Rovers. In 1975, he was weeks away from marrying Deirdre Hunt when his fiancée called it off. Billy decided that it was time to move on and left to work in a hotel bar in Jersey, which he made his home.

When Annie retired in 1984, she asked Billy to take over the Rovers tenancy. Billy obliged his mother, but his heart was never in it and when the police caught him selling alcohol after-hours, Billy got the brewery to buy him out and left Weatherfield, never to return.


1938-1961: Dragged up

William Walker was born on 8th September 1938. He was the son of publicans Jack and Annie Walker, who had had the tenancy of the Rovers Return Inn for a year when they had Billy, their first child. His sister Joan was born two years later.

Between the births of Billy and Joan, Jack went off to war. For six years, the children had one parent for all the time Annie could spare, which wasn't much. Billy suffered from the lack of a father figure, and spent his childhood outdoors collecting shrapnel and fighting with other boys. When Jack came home, Billy's wild behaviour carried on leading Annie to blame it on the poor standards at Bessie Street School; he'd often come home looking scruffy and picked up bad language. The last straw came when the boy was brought home by a policeman after falling through a cucumber frame while stealing apples from a garden in Oakhill. The very next day, Annie enrolled Billy at Mrs Dudley Henderson Private Academy in Cloister Street for £15 a term.

Billy hated his new school at first and was bullied by his posher classmates. However, within three months he'd assembled his own gang of ne'er-do-wells who ruled the playground. He was such a bad influence that when he was caught fighting in a classroom in 1952 the Deputy Headmaster Donald Henderson wrote to Jack and Annie suggesting that their son's education would be better served at another school. Annie begrudgingly sent Billy back to Bessie Street Seniors to finish his last year, telling the neighbours that she'd decided to return him to his roots.

1961: Corporal Walker comes home on leave

At fourteen, Billy saw off his rival Kenneth Barlow to take Christine Hardman to the Coronation Dance, but Christine went off him when he spilt beer over her. After leaving school, he took a job as a car mechanic at the Blue Bell Garage on Commercial Road. By the end of the decade, he'd been called up for National Service, where he made it up to Corporal. He returned home following a tour of duty in Hong Kong in January 1961 and picked up where he left off, getting back with his old girlfriend Doreen Lostock and returning to the Blue Bell Garage.

In August 1961, Blue Bell owner Phil Marsden's son opened a garage in Chiswick and offered Billy the job of foreman. The idea of moving to London appealing to Billy, he accepted without hesitation.

1961-1969: Life down south

Billy started out in a bedsit in Tufnell Park but early in 1962 he moved to Clapham. Two of his friends there were former neighbours David Barlow and Dennis Tanner. Dennis was in London working as a talent scout for Lenny Phillips.

Through Dennis, Billy was introduced to Philippa Scopes, the well-known Finsbury Beauty Queen. Billy and Philippa fell in love and in May of that year Philippa agreed to abandon her career to marry. The next step was for Billy to introduce Philippa to his parents. Jack liked her right away, but Annie considered her unsuitable due to her not being a lady. While in Weatherfield, Philippa heard that her rival had been cast in a film and starting having doubts about giving up her chance to be a star. By mutual consent, she and Billy broke off the engagement and went their separate ways. Billy was quietly bitter about being dumped but bounced back by going on a date that evening before returning to London.

In 1964, Billy was sacked from the garage and was worried about keeping up with his rent. To tide him over, Jack made regular payments to his landlady, Mrs. Nicholls, but when Annie found out she assumed that Mrs. Nicholls was Jack's secret lover and walked out on him. Billy came up from London to clear up the misunderstanding and make sure his parents were reunited. He found a new job shortly thereafter.

The next time Billy visited, in January 1969, he was in a serious relationship again. Annie and Jack met his new girlfriend, Jasmine Choong, and Billy bought an engagement ring planning to pop the question. All was going well until Annie, prejudiced against Jasmine because of her Chinese heritage, adopted a passive-aggressive stance towards her in an attempt to divide her and Billy. Billy refused to let Annie split them up, but Jasmine knew that her parents wouldn't allow her to have Annie as a mother-in-law and ended the relationship herself, turning down Billy's proposal. Disgruntled, Billy left without saying goodbye to Annie.

1970-1974: Return of a bad penny

1970: Billy supports Annie in the wake of Jack's death

Jack died suddenly in June 1970 while visiting Joan and her husband Gordon Davies in Derby. When Annie decided to stay on at the Rovers by herself, Billy moved back home to live with her, putting in the occasional shift at the pub but in the main working for himself. The money he'd made in London enabled him to buy the Canal Garage and employ Alan Howard as a mechanic.

Billy continued to look for love. In November, he kidded Annie that he'd got Irma Barlow pregnant, though he and Irma were never more than friends.

The following June, Annie tried to set him up with physiotherapist Lorna Shawcross, an old school friend who had recently moved back to Weatherfield from Leamington Spa. Billy of course resisted - at least, until he saw Lorna in the flesh and became smitten. When Lorna moved into the Rovers, Billy got carried away and bought her an expensive brooch. Annie intervened to stop him getting hurt by blowing Lorna's secret that she was engaged; she only saw him as a friend. Billy had already been thinking about moving on and the incident made up his mind to invest in a self-service bay in Chiswick and move back down south. He held onto the garage, promoting Alan to manager with a 15% cut of the profits.

The self-service was a bad deal, and Billy returned with his tail between his legs in 1972, £3,000 in debt. To pay off his creditors, he sold the garage to Alan for £2,500 and went to work at the Rovers permanently. Annie was so delighted that she appointed Billy pub manager, senior to barmaids Betty Turpin and Bet Lynch.

In May of that year, Newton & Ridley brewery thought about modernising the Rovers and sought out a landlord with modern ideas - Billy. Out of deference to his mother, Billy turned down the licence when it was offered by Sid Bolton, but Annie was livid when she found out that the subject had been discussed behind her back and called Billy "Judas".

1973: Caught in the act

By 1973 Billy was turning into a drinker and a gambler, depressed that there was nothing in his life except the Rovers. He hit rock bottom when he passed a rubber cheque to the caterers of a party celebrating Annie and Alf Roberts's installation as Mayor and Mayoress of Weatherfield. The Rovers' account was down as Billy had been using it to pay his gambling debts. To buy himself time, Billy found a new caterer and cried off from the installation ceremony to place some bets, all of which he lost. He was spotted at the bookies by Hilda Ogden, who wasted no time in telling Annie where her son was on the biggest day of her life. A lucky break enabled Billy to settle up with the caterers, but by that time Annie knew about the bounced cheque. Furious, she fired Billy as manager. More than anything else, she was upset that she could no longer trust him and Billy was thoroughly ashamed of himself. Knowing that things had to change, Billy set off for London to find work, leaving Annie a letter on the bar.

Ultimately, London was another failed fresh start for Billy. He was in the business of selling used cars and in January 1974 he fleeced Stuart Draper by selling him a written-off Alfa Romeo for £1,100, £700 more than it was worth. When Alan and Elsie Howard moved to Newcastle, Alan offered Billy first refusal on the Canal Garage, returning the favour from two years prior. Billy grabbed the opportunity using proceeds from the car sale to pay in cash.

A few weeks after Billy's return to Weatherfield, Draper turned up demanding a refund on the Romeo. Billy refused to take responsibility for the car, leading a vengeful Draper to park the vehicle outside the garage with a note attached warning customers that Billy was crooked. His last, more desperate, move to was drive the car into the front of the Rovers, smashing the door. To add insult to injury, the police took Billy's side and Draper was forced to move the wreck. Billy had won the battle, but the incident showed Annie that he hadn't changed, and she took to her bed in shame.

1974-1975: Relationship with Deirdre Hunt

In early 1974, Billy set his sights on Deirdre Hunt, the 18-year-old secretary for Fairclough, Langton and Booth. In March, he got her to do relief bar work at the Rovers, and five months later they started dating in secret. Word got out when they started planning a holiday together, and when Ray Langton jealously refused to allow Deirdre the time off and made cracks about the age gap, Billy chased him down the street and thumped him.

In October, Deirdre's mother Blanche Hunt got the mistaken impression that Billy and her daughter were engaged. When talking about it, the couple realised that they both wanted to get married and Billy proposed for real.

Later that year, Tony Bolton and Paul Meggitt stole jackets from the Mark Brittain Warehouse in Coronation Street and stored them inside a van at the garage. Billy found the jackets while servicing the van but was persuaded not to call the police by Tony's father Fred Bolton who asked for time to make his son see sense. Paul then attempted to hang the crime on Billy by tipping the police off himself, and Billy spent a night in the cells before Fred grassed up his own son, hoping that it would set him on the straight and narrow.

1975: Billy says goodbye to Deirdre as he leaves for Jersey

Billy and Deirdre's engagement went on for months without the couple setting a date. In April 1975, they pencilled in 24th May. Billy spent much of the build-up to the wedding trying to keep Deirdre, Blanche and Annie happy. To give Deirdre the wedding she wanted, he dispensed with tradition and offered to pay for it all instead of Blanche, an idea which didn't meet with Annie's approval.

As the date neared, Deirdre began to feel that it was all happening too quickly and after a tiff, Billy demanded she make up her mind. Deirdre opted to break the engagement and Billy reacted by finishing with her completely. Within a week, he was on a plane to St Helier, Jersey, to start work as a barman at the Hotel Carlotta, with no regrets.

1975-1984: William Walker, publican

Billy made Jersey his home and rarely visited Annie. One such occasion was in May 1978, when Newton & Ridley was being taken over by Morleys. To save Annie's job and home, Billy successfully applied for the licence. He was relieved when the takeover fell through and he could return to Jersey.

1979: Billy gets a second chance with Deirdre

In 1979, Billy came up to Weatherfield to ask Annie for a £2,500 loan to buy a wine bar in St Helier. Annie was willing to simply give him the money, but a complication arose when Billy started courting Deirdre again and invited her and her daughter Tracy Langton to live with him in Jersey. Annie didn't approve of Deirdre as she was still married to Ray, albeit separated, and she made her offer conditional on Billy going back to Jersey alone. Billy chose Deirdre over the money, but in the end Deirdre turned him down as she didn't think Billy would be a good father to Tracy.

With Annie's money, Billy bought a share of the wine bar and by 1984 he was in business with Peter Lasalle. When Annie took time off and went to stay with Joan, Billy was obligated to stand in as Rovers manager. He wasn't happy to be back and returned to Jersey the moment Fred Gee was fit enough to replace him following an operation to remove his appendix.

Two months later, Billy sold his share of the wine bar to pay his debts and with nowhere else to go he moved back into the Rovers. He was content to allow pub manager Gordon Lewis to carry on running the Rovers but as soon as the brewery learned that he was back, they insisted that Billy take over the licence.

Within weeks, Billy was up to his old tricks, gambling away the money he had left in card schools and chasing after Deirdre. While Deirdre's husband Ken Barlow was away, Billy pushed his way into No.1 and made a pass at her, which she rejected. Later, Mike Baldwin marked Billy's card, causing Billy to work out that Deirdre and Mike had once had an affair. To rub salt in the wound, when Billy's girlfriend Samantha Benson visited him, she went off with Mike and let him drive her to the airport instead of Billy.

Samantha arrived with a warning for Billy that Peter Lasalle was after him for £3,000. Billy sunk to a new low and blackmailed Emily Bishop for £6,000 from the insurance money she'd received when Ernest was killed in 1978, hinting that he'd tell people about Deirdre and Mike's affair if she didn't loan him the sum. In the end Mike intervened and, having heard all about Billy's crooked deals from Samantha, threatened to go to the police with the information if Billy didn't leave Emily alone. At Betty's suggestion, Billy took his problems to Annie. When he came back a few weeks later, he announced to the staff that Annie had officially retired and he was now the licensee. He sacked Fred Gee by overworking him and goading him into thumping him. Billy also used this as an excuse to bar Fred but Mike again proved to be a thorn in his side and forced him to lift the ban by threatening to have his workers boycott the pub.

1984: Billy leaves the Rovers for good

Billy carried on gambling, and in November began holding after-hours drinking parties at the pub. Eventually the police caught up with him and he was summoned to the brewery for after-hours serving and buying spirits cut-price from a wholesaler. At Billy's suggestion, the brewery bought him out, bringing the 47-year Walker empire to an end. Billy then went back to the place he'd been happiest - Jersey - and was not seen or heard from in Weatherfield again.


Billy was a Jack the lad type, a cheeky young man who shirked his responsibilities. In his youth, he could charm the birds off the trees, but this diminished with age as he grew more cynical and embittered.

After a short time working as a mechanic at the Blue Bell Garage, he got a lucky break and was offered a job as a foreman at a garage in London. The idea appealed to Billy as he sought excitement and London promised more adventure than Weatherfield. He resented being dragged back into the quiet, humdrum world of his home town in the 1970s, but tolerated it as long as he led his own life, independent of his parents - no small feat when he had a mother as overbearing as Annie Walker.

Billy had inherited some of his mother's judgmentalism. In 1972, he was the ringleader of Stan Ogden's accusers when Stan was suspected of being a Peeping Tom - a charge of which he was innocent. That same year, he tried to entrap the Rovers' potman Jacko Ford into showing his true colours by planting £3 under the phone and seeing whether he took it. Realising what Billy was up to, Jacko resigned from his post in protest. Billy later felt bad about it and stuck up for Jacko.

His repeated failures in life - most of which he brought upon himself - changed Billy for the worse. In 1974, he conned Stuart Draper out of £1,100 for an Alfa Romeo worth only £400 and harshly derided him when he showed up demanding his money back. Ten years later, circumstances brought him back to the Rovers Return as its new licensee. Billy's temper and lack of patience made him a poor landlord; he barred Percy Sugden and Mavis Riley for complaining about the food and within days of Billy taking over the neighbours were boycotting the pub. Later, Billy goaded Fred Gee into hitting him so that he could sack him and get out of paying redundancy. His days in Weatherfield ended on a sour note; bored with the Rovers, he held card schools and after-hours drinking sessions to liven things up, resulting in Newton & Ridley forcing him out. Billy was glad of the excuse to head back south and left Weatherfield without looking back.


Jack Walker

Though Billy looked up to his father Jack Walker, he wasn't above taking advantage of his gentle nature. As a youth, he tricked money out of Jack and talked his way out of lending a hand behind the bar on multiple occasions. They had a good relationship and were often on the same side against Annie, particularly when Billy brought a girl home who Annie would invariably dislike, such as Philippa Scopes in 1962 and Jasmine Choong in 1969.

Having grown up watching his dad lead a dog's life, Billy had no desire to follow in his footsteps and spent much of his adult life trying to escape from Weatherfield and the Rovers Return.

Annie Walker

1975: Billy and Annie disagree over his wedding to Deirdre

Billy had a fractious relationship with his mother Annie. As a Lady Victualler, Annie hoped for an ambitious, successful son she could boast about to her snobby friends but he continually let her down. Billy, conversely, found Annie judgemental and interfering. One of their biggest fall-outs occurred in 1969, when Annie's racism towards Billy's girlfriend Jasmine Choong caused Jasmine to break off their relationship.

Annie was proud of Billy for making a life for himself in London during the 1960s and was deeply grateful when he abandoned it to return to Weatherfield upon Jack's death in 1970. Though they had their share of arguments, Billy was protective of Annie, sometimes too much. When Harold Dewhurst from the bowling club asked Billy for Jack's trophy to bring in funds, Billy helped him get round Annie by suggesting they rename it "The Jack Walker Memorial Cup". Annie and Harold became friends and went on a cruise together in April 1971. When they returned, Annie was reluctant to talk about the holiday and word spread that Harold had been seen with another woman. Billy threw Harold out of the Rovers when he came in with a younger woman, only for the girl's husband - Harold's son John - to turn up demanding an explanation. It transpired that Annie was the one who fell for someone else on the cruise, and Harold had been covering up for her like a gentleman.

Billy lived at the Rovers on and off between 1970 and 1975. Increasingly, it became a place for him to lie low as a result of his dodgy dealings in the south - a fact Annie knew all too well. Another factor was Annie's health. In September 1972, she took to her bed and in an effort to get her up and about, following Dr. Mitchell's advice Billy went back to London for a few weeks.

One of their lowest points was in May 1973 when Annie found out that Billy had been abusing his position as pub manager by paying off his gambling debts with the takings. Billy promised to pay her back but it was the loss of trust that hurt Annie the most.

Billy's engagement to Deirdre Hunt in 1974 was a long time coming and Annie was determined to make sure it was the wedding she'd envisioned. Things got off to a bad start when Annie, returning from a holiday in Majorca, found the Rovers still serving after-hours and blamed it on the relief manager, Blanche Hunt, Deirdre's mother. Billy was quick to tell Annie that he'd been the one serving and demanded she apologise to Blanche. Annie exacerbated the situation by ordering Betty Turpin to "send for" Blanche, rather than calling on her herself. It was only when Billy threatened to cut her out of his life that Annie swallowed her pride and grovelled to Blanche. In the following months, Annie felt increasingly left out as Billy continually went along with Deirdre and Blanche's ideas for the wedding rather than hers. Eventually Annie got so sick of being ignored that she went to stay with her daughter Joan Davies in Derby. When Deirdre broke off the engagement a few weeks later, Annie felt that Billy had had a lucky escape.

Happier times in Billy and Annie's relationship included surprise appearances in Weatherfield by Billy for Annie's This is Your Life on Christmas Day 1963 and her 40th anniversary party at the Rovers in 1977. In 1978, Billy was prepared to sacrifice his life in Jersey to take on the Rovers licence when Newton & Ridley was being bought out, although the takeover ended up not happening. Annie encouraged Billy's ambitions and gave him the money to buy into a wine bar in Jersey in 1979, despite his track record of squandering opportunities.


1970: Billy introduces Annie to the Rovers' new barmaid

Billy's closest friends in the Street were Alan Howard, Irma Barlow, Bet Lynch and, when not quarrelling over a woman, Ray Langton. He was also mates with his ex-neighbours Dennis Tanner and David Barlow when, by coincidence, the three ended up living in the same area in London in 1961.

Billy hired Alan Howard as a mechanic in September 1970 when he purchased the Canal Garage. Alan had just narrowly avoided being declared bankrupt and was after a job as Elsie had refused to let him start his own business again and get into more debt. Alan became a good friend to Billy but sometimes needed reminding who was the boss. When he repaired Ken Barlow's Mini as a favour without asking Billy, Billy tackled him about it leading Alan to resign. Once he'd cooled off, he came back to ask for a second chance.

Later that same year, Frank Bradley used the garage to work on stolen cars. Billy was going to inform the police but relented as Frank's girlfriend Bet Lynch thought she could keep Frank under control. Billy subsequently hired Bet as a barmaid at the Rovers to alleviate Annie's staff shortage. Annie was appalled by Bet's suggestive clothing and the way she encouraged the menfolk, but Billy convinced her to give Bet a chance by betting her that trade would go up, being proved right in the end.

A full-blown relationship between Billy and Bet was never on the table but they had a close shave in July 1972 they accidentally booked the same villa in Italy at the same time, causing Lucille Hewitt to think they were planning a dirty holiday together. In the end they both changed their plans, embarrassed by the gossip.

In October 1970, Billy acted as a go-between when Irma Barlow borrowed money from lender Bill Sweeney to buy the Corner Shop outright from Maggie Clegg. Annie got the mistaken idea that romance was blossoming between the pair and when she warned Irma off Billy, Billy got the idea to pretend that Irma was pregnant to get back his mum. Billy later helped bring Irma out of herself after she was taken hostage by Joe Donelli.

Love life

1962: Billy and his fiancée Philippa Scopes

There were many women in Billy's life, mostly casual flings. In 1961, he was going steady with Doreen Lostock but got cold feet when she talked about settling down. His first serious relationship was with beauty queen Philippa Scopes, who gave up her career to marry him but was unable to resist the lure of showbusiness for long.

In August 1966, Merle Baker turned up in Weatherfield looking for her fiancé David Barlow, in order to hold him to his promise to marry her when she was twenty-one. However, a photo of 'David' showed that Merle's man was really Billy. Merle, who was staying at the Rovers, threatened to tell the papers the whole story if Annie threw her out. Jack got rid of her by paying her train fare back to London.

Heartbreak followed Billy, with his next big love Jasmine Choong dumping him in 1969 and two years later he set his cap at Lorna Shawcross, who turned out to be secretly engaged. In 1972, he went after Lucille Hewitt's young friend Lorraine Binks. Ray Langton warned him off her, but he did get a night out with Lorraine the following February. May 1972 saw Billy and Ray plan to use the Corner Shop flat as a love nest after getting the key off Alf Roberts, but the girls they invited stood them up for a couple of Yanks and they got drunk on their own.

In February 1973, Billy had a one-night-stand with Edna Gee in the Ogdens' bedroom while attending Hilda's "Barbara Cartland"-style birthday party. A month later, while staying at 11 Coronation Street he invited his girlfriend Julie Quinn over and asked her to bring along a friend for Alan Howard, as Elsie was away at Linda Cheveski's. The friend was Deirdre Hunt, Billy's future fiancée. One of his last flings before dating Deirdre was Jean Wilkins, who he paired off with at an after-hours drinking session with Ken, Len Fairclough, Gaynor Burton and Maureen Hicks.

Billy's last stint in Weatherfield saw him in a relationship with the much younger Sally Waterman, Ken Barlow's assistant at the Weatherfield Recorder. When Sally dumped Billy for being too serious, Billy tried to cause trouble between Ken and Deirdre by insinuating that Ken was having an affair with Sally, but after a talk with Sally Deirdre was satisfied that there was nothing going on.

Background information

Creation and casting

Jack, Annie, Billy, Joan Walker and Gordon Davies in 1961

Billy Walker was a part of Coronation Street from its early drafts. Although the character did not appear in either of the dry runs, Tony Warren planned for Jack and Annie Walker to have three children - Billy, Joan and Norman, the latter of whom was dropped before shooting began.

RADA-trained actor Kenneth Farrington came to the producers' attention when he auditioned for the part of Dennis Tanner, making it to the final two with Philip Lowrie. Farrington was born in Peckham, London but on casting assistant Josie Scott's advice he didn't mention his southern background when he read for the part. Farrington: "She said, can you do a north country accent. Well I'd only ever been up north for two weeks but I had been at drama school with Albert Finney so I copied his accent." The accent fooled his co-stars: "It wasn't until about three months after I'd been in it that I told anybody that I wasn't from up North." (Forty Years of Coronation Street: A Collection of Memories, Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 2000) On his screen test: "I did a camera test with Pat Phoenix and did not get the part, but they told my agent they would write me in as another part." (The Coronation Street Story, Boxtree Ltd, 1995) Billy debuted in Episode 15 on 27th January 1961 when the character was demobbed following his national service.

Comings and goings

Farrington was one of the first actors to leave the Street, departing in Episode 67 on 2nd August 1961 when Billy went to work at a garage in London. He returned four times during the 1960s. In his two more substantial return appearances, Billy was accompanied by his bride-to-be: Philippa Scopes in 1962 and Jasmine Choong in 1969. Farrington discovered that appearing alongside glamorous women had a downside: "I found that I would be coming back and doing all the acting, but because they looked so great the camera would be on them all the time. They would have wonderful close-ups because they were so pretty and lovely, and I was always a voice-off." (The Coronation Street Story)

Billy was brought back full-time upon the death of Arthur Leslie (Jack Walker) in 1970. Rather than have Billy take over the Rovers Return, writers had Annie become licensee and Billy developed into a bad penny, bringing trouble to his mother's door. Farrington only ever signed for six months at a time and took breaks from the programme in the latter halves of 1971 and 1973.

In 1974, Billy got engaged to Deirdre Hunt and the date was later set for 1st June 1975. Farrington tentatively agreed to sign for twelve months after producer Susi Hush met with his agent and offered the actor an extra two weeks paid holiday a year. However, no such contract was ever offered for Farrington to sign and so the actor decided to leave when his current contract expired in April. Farrington: "We got near to the end of that storyline and were coming up to the marriage and the producer said to me, 'It's all set for April the whatever' and I said, 'That's unfortunate because I leave' and she said, 'I thought you'd said you'd commit yourself to stay', and I said, 'I did, but you'd said I could have this extra paid holiday' and when my agent had discussed it with the contracts people they'd said, 'No, the producer has not got the right to OK that' and they wouldn't OK it. I said that I was going to leave and they said, 'Oh crikey, you've dropped us right in it because it's too late'." (Forty Years of Coronation Street) Farrington agreed to delay his departure for a few weeks to wrap up Billy's story but refused to do more: "I stayed on for a few weeks while they changed the storyline, but I did not do another six months. It was a point of principle - if you're running a business and you agree something then you stand by the agreement." (The Coronation Street Story) Determined to have a wedding take place, writers changed the identity of Deirdre's suitor to Ray Langton, Billy's former rival for her affections.

Farrington was happy to return for short stints and had reprised the role three times in the latter portion of the 1970s. In Episode 1922 on 20th June 1979, he appeared for the last time alongside his on-screen mother and good friend, Doris Speed. The actors kept in touch with each other until her death in 1994.

1984 return

Publicity shot of Kenneth Farrington as Billy in 1984

When Speed left Coronation Street in 1983, Billy was installed as the new Rovers landlord to keep the pub in the Walker name. Producers especially wanted to bring back a familiar face as many senior members of the cast had recently left the programme, Doris Speed among them. According to Farrington, he was brought in as a replacement for Fred Gee when Fred Feast fell ill: "They'd written the scripts for Fred and had adapted them for me, but there was quite a character change and I felt a bit upset about it." Farrington believed that the change in Billy was partly due to Billy's role having been filled by Mike Baldwin: "I played a Jack-the-lad sort of character, a bit like the Johnny Briggs character is now. Then, when I didn't go back, the Briggs character came in and filled that space." (Forty Years of Coronation Street)

Farrington's concerns about the writing caused him to quit after less than a year: "They'd really changed the character quite drastically, which caused a lot of upset for me because I found it wasn't the same.... Doris got very upset watching me on screen. She used to phone me up and say, 'What on Earth are they doing to you?' and I found it all pretty one-dimensional. They tried to do a JR on it, but it became a bit unplayable. Just nasty for the sake of being nasty." (The Coronation Street Story) Billy made his final appearance in Episode 2471 on 5th December 1984.

First and last lines

"Pint of beer, please." (First line, upon entering the Rovers on a surprise leave)


"Well I can't stand around chatting to you lot. I have better things to do. Ta-ra, now!" (Final line, leaving Weatherfield for the last time)


List of addresses

Address Duration
Rovers Return Inn 8th September 1938 to 2nd August 1961
London 2nd August 1961 to 26th August 1970
Rovers Return Inn 26th August 1970 to 7th July 1971
Chiswick, London 7th July 1971 to 3rd January 1972
Rovers Return Inn 3rd January 1972 to 23rd May 1973
London 23rd May 1973 to 21st January 1974
Rovers Return Inn 21st January 1974 to 12th May 1975
Jersey 12th May 1975 to 9th May 1984
Rovers Return Inn 9th May 1984 to 5th December 1984
Jersey 5th December 1984 onwards

Employment history

Role Institution Duration
Trainee mechanic Blue Bell Garage 1950s
Serviceman British Army 1950s to 3rd February 1961
Mechanic Blue Bell Garage 24th April 1961 to August 1961
Foreman Phil Marsden's garage, Chiswick August 1961 to 1964
Owner Canal Garage September 1970 to 19th January 1972
Barman Rovers Return Inn January 1972 to 23rd May 1973
Owner Canal Garage January 1974 to Unknown
Barman Hotel Carlotta, St Helier July 1975 to Unknown
Landlord Wine bar, St Helier 1979 to 1984
Landlord Rovers Return Inn 16th May 1984 to 3rd December 1984

See also