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Brenda Thornton was a Bettabuy shelf-stacker who spent more time chatting with her colleague Vera Duckworth than working.

In 1990, Brenda got Vera interested in going to a spiritualist session, despite claiming not to believe in ghosts herself. Having been to a few sessions before, Brenda admitted that she was almost convinced by the sight of someone believing they were talking to their dead dad. Vera's curiosity was aroused and she decided to go along for a laugh. At the session, the medium told the congregation that a spirit called Brian was trying to make contact, which Vera thought could be Brian Tilsley, her friend Ivy Brennan's son who had been murdered the previous year. While discussing the subject on the shop floor the next day, with Brenda indicating that she now believed in the spirit world, the ladies were told off by assistant manager Curly Watts, forcing them to pay more than the barest attention to their duties.

Three months later, while on a lunch break in the staff canteen, Vera and Brenda gossiped about Curly and Kimberley Taylor's sex life (or lack thereof). Although Brenda found it odd, the women considered it romantic that he was waiting until marriage to consummate their relationship. Unbeknown to them, Curly and Kimberley were at that moment planning a Christmas getaway at a hotel.

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