James Woodgate was the son of friends and neighbours of Evelyn Plummer from the days when she and her family lived next door to his on a now-demolished terraced street near the Weatherfield Canal. When James was sixteen, he was involved in an accident when a lorry jack-knifed and hit his parents' car, killing them and putting him in a wheelchair for life. Evelyn took the lad under his wing, moving him in with her, took him to his physio sessions and maintained his upbeat spirits whenever he felt despondent with her own brand of tough love.
James prospered as he reached adulthood, running his own business involving exporting tinned produce, and showed his gratitude back to Evelyn by taking him with her on expensive holidays. All this she kept secret from grandson Tyrone Dobbs when the two found each other many years later after he discovered that Darren and Jackie Dobbs had not been his natural parents. She still endeavoured to go on her holidays with James even after moving into 9 Coronation Street, arranging a trip across Europe after being in New York the previous year, but still not telling Tyrone of her arrangements.
Tyrone was getting suspicious of his gran's behaviour and followed her to what turned out to be James's house one night. Although Tyrone knew nothing of him, James knew everything about him and Tyrone was surprised and puzzled by two things - the warmth with which Evelyn had spoken of Tyrone to James when describing him, and the way in which she was keen to try and stop some of the conversation between the two, especially when the subject of Tyrone's deceased natural mother, Cassandra Plummer, came up. After they had returned home, James followed them to return Evelyn's mobile phone that she had left behind and in chatting to Tyrone from his car he dropped a bombshell - it hadn't been Cassie who had abandoned him in the door of a police station back in 1982 soon after he was born, but Evelyn herself.
Tyrone was devastated at the revelation and when she went on a holiday with James to Italy soon afterwards, he told her not to bother coming back but soon regretted his actions. After a month, James returned with Evelyn's beloved dog Cerberus, saying she had had an altercation with a taxi driver in Paris on their return leg and had disappeared while he was getting the train tickets and she sorted out the driver's demand for an extra €10 for carrying the dog in his vehicle. Tyrone was concerned, especially when James assured him that Evelyn was missing her grandson. The two set to ringing up the airports, Eurostar and the consulates to get a trace of the woman but without success. When probationer policeman Craig Tinker was asked to help, he discovered that Evelyn was in a French jail as she'd refused to pay the taxi fare and had been reported to the police by the cabbie. Tyrone paid the €700 fine and his grandmother was released.
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