Derek was often dominated by women; he remained a bachelor until after his mother Amy's death in 1981 as he always bowed to her wishes. He first met Mavis Riley in 1976 but remained non-committal until 1984 when they agreed to marry - but on their wedding day, the indecisive couple jilted each other. Forever letting Mavis down, Derek was usually too proud to admit he was at fault but still went to her with his problems. His biggest mistake was marrying his boss's daughter Angela Hawthorne in 1985, even though it was Mavis he really wanted. After divorcing Angela, Derek finally married Mavis in 1988 and in 1990 they moved into 4 Coronation Street.
On the career front, Derek never had much luck; he usually worked as a salesman but his jobs never tended to last long, and in desperation for employment he usually had to turn to people who had caused problems in his and Mavis's lives, including Angela and Mavis's ex-partner Victor Pendlebury. Eccentric and pompous, Derek was the perfect match for dithering Mavis, as they were both very much alike, although their old-fashioned mannerisms and tendency to over-dramaticize everything sometimes made them the butt of the neighbours' jokes, especially their immediate neighbour Des Barnes.
Derek died from a heart attack during a road rage incident on Mavis's birthday in 1997.
A wonderful image was painted of Derek by his mother: when he was younger he had the whole of the local tennis club at his feet - but only the females, she was quick to add! However, all of them melted away into marriage until he didn't even have a partner for the mixed foursome. On her first meeting with Mavis Riley in 1976, Derek's future wife - even though it would take them twelve more years to get married - Mrs Wilton described her as a "walking ice-cream sundae".
After an abortive house purchase, Derek left the scene and only re-appeared in April 1979, working for Sandicrofts, who produced seasonal novelties for retailers. He persuaded Mavis (who was temporarily working in the Corner Shop) to buy a gross of chocolate Easter Bunnies for Easter - 144 in total. With the Corner Shop and The Kabin completely overstocked, Derek won a canteen of cutlery in a sales competition, and with typical insensitivity he told Mavis he was giving this to his mother. Later, Rita Fairclough pricked his conscience and he gave it to Mavis - who cooked him a meal in gratitude, and somehow managed to find herself losing the cutlery back to Derek's mother.
The Wiltons became the harbingers of middle-class taste on the street. They had their "nice little garden" (with gnomes, named Arthur and Guinevere), and later a conservatory.
Derek had an obsessive personality and easily got hooked on different things, just as quickly leaving them again when he discovered how much work and effort was involved, including running machines, giant vegetables, jogging, pyramid selling.
He had little-to-no sense of humour and was so easily wound up and made to look foolish without him being aware of it. Des Barnes was the Wiltons neighbour, and was always ready to make a joke at their expense; they were too easy to resist. This had led to a number of incidents where Derek was convinced that Des was playing a trick on them, when the event was real, such when they wanted to get an allotment. Des said that he knew someone on the council who could help, and he did. But when Derek met the man and he turned out to be called Hedges, he thought that he was in league with Des and having him on. Derek's attempts at playful banter became very insulting to the real council man. However, he didn't hold it against them and they got their allotment.
Norris Cole played a prank on Derek by stealing his male gnome, Arthur, and sending postcards to Derek from around the world, signed by Arthur. Derek was also sent ransom notes, and one night went to the Red Rec to keep an assignation with the kidnapper. At this point there was a flasher round the street and Derek was arrested under suspicion. However, his alibi was so unusual the police felt obliged to believe it.
The kidnapper's identity was only discovered when Derek was staying with Norris on the night before his wedding, and found Arthur in the wardrobe; he'd thought it was Des again.
Once they had the allotment, Derek chatted to Billy Williams, who had the neighbouring plot and grew giant vegetables for competition. Derek thought this was a great idea and decided to go in for turnips, leading to all sorts of jokes. His prize specimen was cut in half when Gary Mallett was digging the foundations for the Wiltons' conservatory.
Derek had some problems getting a job, and took to pyramid selling of environmental gadgets like humidifiers. He was hopeless, and the Wilton's friends and acquaintances stopped going near them so they wouldn't be subjected to the hard sell. At this point, he introduced Norris to the program and he did very well. After this, Derek swallowed his pride and went to his ex-wife Angela Hawthorne, who ran a stationery business. She took him on and he spent many happy days dreaming about his company car. However, he was dismayed when he returned one night in a lime green Corsa with a huge orange paperclip on the roof. This was one of many incidents similar to this in Wilton life; they pictured a lovely cosy scenario and then it all came crashing down around them.
Derek was completely smitten with Mavis and saw her as a cross between Marilyn Monroe and the Madonna. He subsequently saw any man with her as a potential seducer.
- Derek had appeared in recurring appearances from 1976, before making a more regular role in 1986.
- Derek Wilton was axed by producer Brian Park in a high profile cull in 1997. His axing was said to have caused his co-worker Thelma Barlow (who played his on-screen wife Mavis) to quit her role in the show. While appearing on ITV's This Morning in October 2010, Barlow denied it was the reason she left the show, stating she had decided to quit before Baldwin was axed.
- After leaving Coronation Street, Peter Baldwin reprised the role of the ghost of Derek Wilton, visiting Norris Cole in a one-off sketch show as part of ITV's Text Santa charity initiative which was broadcast on 21st December 2012.
First and last linesEdit
"Oh, they told me I could get a cup of coffee here." (First line)
"Here hang on you, look what you've done." (Final line, just before his heart attack)