Jim served with the Royal Engineers before moving to Coronation Street with his wife and teenaged sons in 1989. Post-Army, he was mainly employed as a mechanic and labourer, though he broke from his usual skill set to manage The Queens pub with Liz in 1993. As a businessman he was less successful; starting off in civvy street as a TV repairman, Jim ran Jim's Bike Shop until it folded in 1992, while his and Bill Webster's once thriving building firm floundered once Jim was left to run it by himself.
Jim's cool reserve hid a temper which flared up violently on occasion. He and Liz had a particularly stormy relationship, with many falling outs due to Jim's possessiveness and paranoia over Liz's relationships with other men, but they always reconciled. In 1992, they were united in grief for their daughter Katie, who died a day after her premature birth.
The McDonalds' first marriage ended in 1996 after Liz confessed to a fling with Jim's army buddy Johnny Johnson many years earlier, leading Jim to hit her and call her a whore. They re-married in 2000 ahead of Jim's sentencing for the manslaughter of drug dealer Jez Quigley, who had died following a revenge attack from Jim for having Steve beaten up. Jim was given eight years for his crime and by the time of his release in 2007, Liz had given up waiting and had divorced him again. Remaining devoted to Liz, in 2011 Jim held up a building society in order to give her enough money to buy the Rovers Return, resulting in his arrest and another seven years in prison.
1955-1999: Early life, Marriage and life on the Street
James McDonald was born on 14th November 1955 in Northern Ireland to parents Masie and Edward. Jim joined the army at a young age, eventually earning the rank of Sergeant. He later met Liz Greenwood during his time in the army and the two embarked on a romance. However in 1974, Liz fell pregnant with twin boys and so the pair married. Later in the same year their sons, Andy and Steve, were born. Jim continued to serve in the army throughout the twins' childhood and the family often found themselves moving from place to place, living in army housing with the family never having a place of their own. Liz became very lonely and depressed whilst Jim was away and felt destitute having to bring up two young boys on her own. She eventually found a shoulder to cry on in the form of Jim's army mate Johnny Johnson, who was also the twins' godfather. Once, when Jim was serving in Norway the pair grew even closer and had a brief three-week affair before calling it off and agreeing that Jim could never know about it.
Eventually, Jim decided to concentrate on his family and give them a fresh start and so moved to Weatherfield with his family in 1989. Jim and Liz purchased 11 Coronation Street from Audrey and Alf Roberts and soon began to get settled in, moving in with the the twins a few weeks later and making home improvements. In order to provide for their family, Jim began a bike repair shop simply called Jim's Bike Shop whilst Liz began working as a barmaid at the Rovers Return Inn. The family soon settled into life on civvy street as the family were relieved to finally have a permanent residence of their own instead of the cramped army housing they were used to and considered life at Number 11 a fresh start.
In February 1990, two months into their new life on Coronation Street, Johnny came to stay for a few days. He had come to Manchester for an interview for the position of recruiting sergeant at their office there - a job which, unbeknownst to Johnny, Jim was also after. Out of respect, Jim didn't tell Johnny he wanted the job as well and allowed him to stay at at Number 11 for as long as he wished. Johnny was especially happy to see Liz again, but when she told him about Jim being interested in the position and made it clear that him living locally would be an unwanted complication for her, Johnny turned the job down. However, there was still the prospect of Jim getting the job and returning to the army, breaking his promise to her and uprooting their family once again after they had just gotten settled. Liz threatened to leave Jim if he took the job, which he considered a bluff but Johnny warned him that she meant it this time. His friend's words hitting home, Jim decided not to pursue the job, and credited Johnny with saving his marriage.
In 1991, Liz told Jim that she was pregnant but wasn't sure whether or not she should keep the baby as she believed the risks of having a baby at her age were too great. However, after much discussion the couple decided that they would keep the baby and go ahead with the pregnancy. Jim was delighted with the news and wasted no time in telling the packed Rovers the news. As the year drew to a close ,however, Steve began getting into trouble with the law, getting caught stealing car radios. He refused to name any of his accomplices and so remained a target of police investigation. If this stress wasn't already enough on the pregnant Liz, Steve vanished on New Year's Eve that year. With Andy not knowing where his brother was either, the family began to worry. Liz believed that Steve's accomplices had attacked him or he had been taken in by the police again. In reality, Steve was with Victoria Arden at her house which they had planned for nobody to find out. After Steve still failed to return home the stress got too much for Liz and she began to experience severe abdominal pains. Jim got Andy to call an ambulance and Liz was rushed to hospital. The following morning Liz gave birth prematurely to a baby girl who they named Katie. However, due to Katie being born so early she was unable to survive on her own. She was placed in an incubator but one of the Doctor's at the hospital, Doctor Swann, warned the couple that Katie's chances were not good. They were grief stricken when Katie passed away the next day on the 2nd January. She was buried by the family the following week. The couple were never quite the same since Katie passed away with Jim more angry and distant. Jim vowed to never have children again and underwent a vasectomy.
Liz took time off her work as a barmaid to mourn Katie and so Jim was left as the sole money earner for a while, still running his bike garage. Business was slow for Jim, despite his former success and even Liz returning to her job later in 1992 wasn't enough to keep his bike shop from folding. After the failure of his business, Jim sought employment elsewhere. He was eventually employed at MVB Motors working alongside mechanic Kevin Webster. The two soon became great friends for many years. Due to Katie's death, Jim and Liz's relationship hit the rocks and the pair separated in 1993 after the couple began to manage the Queen's pub, as running a pub had always been their dream.
This came to be because Liz was offered the position by Newton and Ridley. Jim soon became convinced that Liz was having an affair with the Director of the company, Richard Willmore and punched him, forcing Liz to tell Jim their marriage was over and that she was staying to manage the Queens without him. Despite their separation the pair still cared for once another and soon grew close again with Jim often visiting her at the pub. On New Years Eve the pair kissed and agreed to try again with their marriage. Jim then briefly joined again Liz at the Queens. However, Liz was made to choose between Jim or the pub by Richard and she chose Jim, moving back to Coronation Street with him. By 1995, Jim was still working at the garage but decided he wished to branch out more. He and Kevin's father, Bill Webster decided to set up their own building firm, purchasing a single van for their transport. Business soon began to boom however and Jim and Bill's company soon grew into an empire.
In February 1996, Liz confessed to her affair with Johnny as they were heading back home from attending an Army reunion in Macclesfield. Angered, Jim shouted verbal abuse, dragged Liz from the car and hit her. He then left her lying in the road at the service station, driving off in a drunken rage. Liz had to make her own way home. Upon returning home and sobering up, Jim realised what he had done and immediately tried to find Liz and apologise to her. However, she was having none of it and ignored him all day. Finally, Jim managed to get Liz to meet him in the Rovers to apologise and make his case. However, Liz declared their marriage truly over this time and left to go home. Jim became enraged and determined to save his marriage and speak to Liz. He attempted to break into the house after Liz with a snooker cue rest. Liz called the police and he was arrested. A restraining order was placed on him. In spite of this, Jim refused to leave Liz alone and one day had the police called on him for violation of the order after he refused to leave the Rovers where Liz was. He was subsequently charged with violation of the order and spent three weeks in Strangeways Jail. The pair were divorced later that year, ending 22 years of marriage. That same year, Steve was charged with selling stolen whiskey and dodgy tobacco and was sentenced to 2 years in prison. In addition to this Jim's mother passed away, leaving all her money to Jim. He had recently heard that Liz was planning on selling Number 11 and moving away. Jim spied his opportunity and approached Liz in the Rovers and told her he wished to buy the house with his inheritance money. Liz was surprised but agreed and so Jim moved back into the house while Liz moved out.
Jim still had contact with his children after the divorce, visiting Steve in prison and living with Andy at Number 11. In 1997, the now single Jim decided to try his hand at romance. He took a fancy to new Rovers barmaid Samantha Failsworth as they shared an enthusiasm for motorbikes. The pair had dinner together many times at her house with them even going bowling together one evening. Jim considered this to be the most fun he had in a while. Jim wanted to tell her how he felt, and was encouraged by Bill who was having relationship problems of his own. Jim was reluctant to do so as he believed himself to be too old for her, being 21 years her senior. Jim never got the chance to confess his feelings as Samantha told Jim she wanted to remain just friends, putting an end to his hopes. The pair remained close however, with Jim waving her off when she departed Weatherfield the following year. Steve was released in June of 1997 and began working for Jim's business. Steve had begun a relationship with Fiona Middleton in 1994 and continued to have a close friendship with her after his release, hoping to win her back one day. Fiona was having relationship problems with her fiancee Alan McKenna and relied on Jim for support. During this drama, Jim and Fiona began to grow close despite Fiona's engagement. Around this time, after hearing of his ill-fated attempts at romance with Samantha, Liz began to warm to Jim again. The pair spent time together due to both of them wanting to see Steve and Andy. One night Jim prepared a birthday meal for Liz at Number 11 that he whole family was to attend but Steve and Andy backed out at the last minute to go to the Rovers, meaning Liz and Jim had the meal alone. The pair spent the evening together, drinking and reminiscing over the old times.
The evening concluded with the two sharing a kiss and sleeping together. The following morning they agreed to get back together, but take things one step at a time. However Jim was reluctant due to his feelings for Fiona. Jim's involvement with Fiona culminated in the two having sex at the Salon. Soon afterwards Jim told Liz that there was no future between them leaving Liz heartbroken and feeling used. Not long after her evening with Jim, Fiona announced that she was pregnant but due to Jim's vasectomy, the child could not be his. But, to be on the safe side, Jim visited the doctor's where it was revealed the vasectomy had failed and that there was every chance he was the father of Fiona's baby. It was later found out that this was not the case, but Jim still interrupted Fiona and Alan's wedding to tell everyone the truth about what happened between them. Alan was enraged at Jim and Fiona, with the latter also being upset at Jim for ruining her big day. When Steve found out, he practically disowned his father, not only because he slept with his ex-girlfriend but because he gave his mum false hope of a reunion. Andy graduated from university at the end of the year and upon doing so moved to Spain to teach English, leaving Jim the sole McDonald left at Number 11.
In 1998, Jim and Steve were still not on good terms, with Steve attempting to make Jim's life hell at work. Bill had decided to leave to go to Germany with his wife Maureen, leaving their business to flounder as Jim was unable to run the firm by himself. He attempted to ask Steve for a job working on the same building site but Steve adamantly refused due to his father's previous actions. Jim turned to Liz and asked her to have a word with Steve about a job. But still, Steve refused, leaving Jim to look for employment elsewhere. Jim managed to secure a job at Coronation Street's garage where he used to work, though it was now owned by Kevin who had purchased it the previous year. Jim visited Steve on the building site in order to gloat about no longer needing him. This soon turned into an all out argument with Steve goading Jim about hitting Liz years prior. Jim was furious and made a swing for Steve. A fight commenced which resulted in Jim losing his balance and falling from the scaffolding and into a rubble filled skip below. Jim was rushed to hospital and when there remained unconscious as the doctors examined what damage had been sustained from his fall. Jim's family was told that it wasn't certain he would ever walk again. Jim had also hit his head and so when he came round, he could not remember Steve's attack on him and was told that he simply fell from the scaffolding. After a short stay in Weatherfield General, Jim was allowed home but was confined to a wheelchair. Liz took great pity on Jim and decided to stay with him at Number 11 in order to help him recover and to care for him when he was incapable of doing so himself. The couple once again grew close, with Jim having genuine feelings for his ex-wife, however Liz only went along with things out of pity. They agreed to once again take things a step at a time but said they wished to make a go at things. The couple went on a few dates but they almost always ended in disaster. Jim was unhappy with how everyone now treated him differently when the two went for a drink in the Rovers and was angered when Maud Grimes appeared to trivialize his wheelchair and left in a rage. Another time, Liz took Jim to a restaurant. Things appeared to be going well until Jim left to go to the bathroom. One of the restaurant patrons had been eyeing Liz up all night, and once Jim was out of the way came over and began to flirt with her. Liz politely turned him down and he returned to his table, not before Jim caught sight of him. Jim demanded to know if he had tried it on with her and after some persuasion she admitted that he had. Jim approached the man and yelled at him, telling him he had no right to flirt with Liz simply because he was paralyzed. The man left and Jim returned to the table. Liz was unhappy, however, at Jim's actions and scolded him for ruining a perfect evening with his jealousy. Due to Jim's injuries he was assigned occupational therapist Michael Wall who helped him to walk again. With Michael a near enough permanent fixture at the house, Michael and Liz embarked on an affair without Jim's knowledge.Around this time, after a tip off from Fiona, Jim realised that Steve was responsible for his fall and paralysis. He confronted Steve in a rage and after initially denying it, admitted to pushing him. Up until this point, the pair had been reconciling after Jim slept with Fiona, but this revelation worsened relations between father and son even further. As a result of everything stacking up on top of him, Jim became depressed. He hated his wheelchair and thought there was no hope for his future or for him with Liz. He attempted suicide by wheeling himself in front of Mike Baldwin's car. Mike slammed on the breaks just in time and shouted at Jim for his stupidity. Maud witnessed those whole thing, and later came to visit Jim as he was attempting to drink himself to death. At first Jim was openly hostile towards Maud, refusing to tell her anything. After she continued to demand answers Jim angrily admitted he wished to die and that he hated her. Despite this, Maud managed to make an impression on Jim by reminding him of his time in the army, and of when he was Sergeant James McDonald. She told him to think before he tried to kill himself as there were many men such as himself who never came home from war, many that she once knew. Maud departed after this, but her words left such an impression that Jim decided to make a better life for himself. After many months of trying, Micheal had managed to get Jim out of his wheelchair and helped him to walk for a few steps aided by a frame. With Jim believing that he and Liz's relationship was going well, he saw this as the perfect time to propose to her again. Jim picked out a ring and a bouquet of flowers with the help of his friend Gary Mallett. Gary helped Jim out of his chair and set up his walking frame, and left Jim to get into Number 11 and propose. With great difficulty, Jim made his way indoors and into the front room. What awaited him dismayed Jim and caused him to collapse into a heap. Liz and Michael were having sex in the front room. Jim was shattered and Liz disappointed that Jim had to find out like that. Jim threw Liz out of the house and initially planned to make Michael's life hell as payback. Things changed when, after giving things a lot of thought, and finding out that Liz and Michael wanted to set off for a new life in Milton Keynes, Jim decided to let Liz go, as he knew she would never love him and that he was simply hurting himself by trying. Steve and Jim finally reconciled in order to wave Liz off. Jim wanted Liz's last memory of him to be a positive one, so got Steve to help him out of his chair and for the first time since his accident, stood unaided in the street to say goodbye to his former wife.
Things began to look up for Jim in 1999. After months of trying and hard work, he was able to walk again with the aid of a walking stick. He began working at the garage again, as well as restarting his building firm with Gary as his partner. Jim also began a relationship with factory worker Gwen Davies whose ex-husband served in the same army regiment as Jim. At the garage, Kevin took on a new apprentice, Tyrone Dobbs, who Jim was tasked with training. Tyrone and Jim became friendly, with the former often coming to Jim for advice on adult life and romance. Jim's side business saw success as well, despite having some issues such as the time where Jack and Vera Duckworth were late on the payment for a new staircase that Gary and Jim fitted in the Rovers. After waiting patiently, the two decided that until the money was paid, there would be no stairs at all and so took them out while the Duckworths were sleeping. Eventually the payment was made and the stairs returned. Sadly this partnership did not last the year as Gary's wife Judy passed away after a car accident and Gary had to stop working for a while to concentrate on bringing up his two children, Billy and Becky. The two men remained friends, with Jim attending Judy's funeral to support Gary and often visited him to make sure he was doing okay.
2000-2007: Prison sentence
By 2000, life was almost back to normal for Jim. His job at the garage earned him a steady wage, he was back on good terms with Steve and he had a good relationship going with Gwen. Early in the year, Rovers landlady Natalie Barnes, a good friend of Jim's let him know that she would be away for a few weeks and that she'd like him to be the Rovers' temporary manager.Jim leapt at the chance to run a pub again and enjoyed every minute of his time as manager before Natalie returned. Not everything ran smoothly for the couple, with the pair nearly splitting up after Gwen confided in Jim that her ex used to hit her and that she could never be in a relationship with a violent man again. After much thought Jim thought it best to sit down with Gwen alone and tell her about the incident with Liz years prior. Gwen was appalled despite Jim telling her that he'd never do something like that again and that it was a drunken mistake that he regretted every day. Gwen was having none of it and after accusing Jim of trying to make excuses, stormed out of the house. Before long, though, the two reconciled and agreed to continue their relationship in spite of what was revealed. Gwen also told Jim about how she had money problems in the past and debt used to be one of her demons. Jim promised her all the support she needed and eventually asked Gwen to move in with him to which she accepted after initially being unsure of the idea. Unknown to Jim, however, Gwen was still massively in debt and was often hounded by debt collectors and so moving in with Jim was a form of escape. At Gwen's insistence, they redecorated the house, with Gwen buying all the furniture with Jim's credit card. While she was happy with Jim, her debt played constantly on her mind and when she found out that Jim had £35,000 in his bank account. The thought of the money drove her mad and eventually, she withdrew the money, in cash, bought a first class train ticket to London and left one day without telling Jim a thing or saying goodbye. Gwen's plan went wrong however when after he train was cancelled, she spent some time shopping in Manchester with the stolen money. Before she could pay, her handbag was stolen and she was forced to return back to Jim, inventing an excuse as to why the money had vanished. Jim had a surprise of his own, as on that day he had been planning to propose to Gwen, even going as far as to buy a ring. When at home, the police came to the door after finding Gwen's handbag and finding out where she lived from the contents of her purse. it was then that the police informed Jim that they were suspicious of the contents of the bag and told Jim of the money and the train ticket. Jim was beyond enraged but waited as calmly as he could for Gwen to return.
When Gwen arrived, Jim interrupted her as she prepared to tell him her tale about the money and demanded to know what she was playing at. A hurt and confused Jim revealed he knew about the money and wondered if Gwen had ever loved him or if she had just been in it for the money. Sick of her excuses, Jim threw her into the street and told her to never come near him again. In the coming days Jim got Gary to help him move the furniture Gwen had bought into the street before Jim set it on fire as it reminded him of Gwen and what she tried to do. The police and fire brigade were quickly called, with the fire being extinguished and Jim receiving an official police caution.
If this wasn't bad enough, things soon began to go further downhill. Steve and his friend Vikram Desai entered a partnership to set up a taxi firm called Street Cars. Both men had to borrow money for the investments, with Steve borrowing from a notorious drug dealer and gangster called Jez Quigley. In order to pay back the money, Jez forced Steve to sell drugs for him which Steve hated but was obliged to do so under threat of death. Steve spied a way to get rid of Jez after the body of Tony Horrocks, son of Jim's friend Natalie, was discovered and Jez was arrsted and held on suspicion of murder. Steve decided to testify against Jez alongside Leanne Battersby who had become addicted to drugs in the past due to Jez's interference. Sadly, their efforts were in vain as Jez was found not guilty and warned Steve to watch his back. Steve became reclusive, fearing for his life if he ventured outside for too long. Jim vowed to protect Steve and encouraged him to forget about Jez and live his life. Steve did as Jim said, but was wrong for letting his guard down as one day, Jez and his gang cornered Steve in a car park and brutally beat him, leaving him to die. Jim realised something was wrong when Steve didn't return home and he and Vikram went out in search of Steve, finding him half dead, but just in time. Steve was rushed to hospital and had his injuries tended to, his condition later stabilising though he remained shaken and paranoid as a result. While Steve recovered in hospital, Jim managed to coax Jez's address out of Vikram and drove there in a rage.
Jim barged his way into Jez's flat and after having a verbal confrontation, out of revenge for what happened to his son, Jim severely beat him before departing. Jez was taken to the same hospital as Steve and after finding this out, made his way to Steve's bed at night and after mocking and traumatising him further, attempted to smother Steve with his own pillow. Suddenly, Jez keeled over, blood leaking from his mouth. As it turned out, Jez's spleen had received damage after Jim's beating and the effort he went to trying to kill Steve caused it to rupture, killing him instantly. Jim was relieved to hear that Jez would no longer be a problem but was terrified that the police would find out that he was behind the attack on him. When the police eventually came around, at the encouragement of Steve, Vikram and Natalie, Jim denied any responsibility and the police left him alone.All was not as well as it seemed with Jim though, as he confided in Natalie that he still felt a great deal of guilt and that he had a responsibility to hand himself in. Natalie told him that Jez's death was an accident and that he had it coming after what he did to their sons and asked him not to confess. Jim agreed and headed home.
While there, Jim attempted to relax by having a drink and looking at old photos. Due to everything hanging over him, he was unable to let things go, and after seeing a photograph of himself in the army, was reminded of the responsibilities he used to have. With that, he polished his shoes, put on his best suit and went to the Rovers for one last drink and to say goodbye to Natalie. When questioned about his attire, Jim lied and said he was going to an army reunion. After finishing his drink, Jim headed to the Police station and handed himself in where he was remanded in custody, awaiting trial.
Not long after Jim's incarceration, Steve was discharged from hospital and attempted to continue with his life as best as he could despite his injuries. He remained at Number 11, living alone whilst also managing Street Cars with Vikram. Weeks later Steve was astonished when a Taxi pulled up at Street Cars and his mother emerged, demanding to know what was going on. Steve took her to a restaurant in town to break the news to her. Liz told Steve that she had caught wind of his attack and had been attempting to contact Jim for weeks. Steve explained that he'd assaulted Jez and that he was now in the nick. Liz played down the situation saying it could be worse and asking if Jim was looking at an assault charge. She was distraught when Steve informed her that the charge was manslaughter.
Liz immediately went to visit Jim in prison but he was less than enthusiastic to see her. He demanded to know why she was here and was openly hostile towards her. Despite this Liz continued to visit regularly and he soon mellowed towards her but often wondered where Michael was as it appeared Liz had returned without him. As well as visits from his family, Jim was visited by Natalie who was upset and disappointed that Jim didn't heed her advice about not turning himself in. She pledged to help him fight for his freedom even pledging money to his cause.
One day, Michael himself turned up at the prison to see Jim and demanded to know why Liz had been visiting him. He admitted that he and Liz had been having problems and then one day upped-sticks without telling him. When Liz next came to visit, Jim was upset and wanted to know if she was just using him to get away from Michael. She denied this but after more pressure from Jim caved in and admitted that she still loved him and no longer wanted to be with Michael. Jim was skeptical at first but then admitted that the feeling was mutual. The pair reconciled and agreed to remarry once Jim was out. Around this time, Jim's solicitor informed him that it would be unlikely he'd get off scot-free and may have to serve at least a year if he pleaded guilty. When asked if this was a certainty the solicitor told him he'd worked a similar case and that was the outcome. When Liz was informed about the possibility of waiting a year she was unenthusiastic and wished for Jim to get special permission to leave prison for a few hours and have a wedding ceremony under police supervision. Jim was told this wouldn't be possible and so the pair agreed to marry in prison.
On the day of Jim's trial in November the pair remarried in a small, brief service in the prison chapel, with Kevin, Natalie, Andy, Steve and Ken and Deirdre Barlow present. Immediately afterwards, Jim had to return to his cell and await his trial. When the time came and everyone was seated in the courtroom, the judgement was passed. Jim was sentenced to eight years for manslaughter and would be incarcerated in Holmes Gate Prison for the duration. Jim was devastated as he and his family had trusted that he'd serve up to 12 months only, yet despite this he put on a brave face for Liz. Liz herself was less brave and openly sobbed in the courtroom as her husband was taken away from her.
Despite the long sentence, Liz promised to wait for Jim and the pair remained in contact with Liz visiting every month. However at some point over the years that Jim was incarcerated, contact became sparse between Jim and his family, except for the monthly visits. While Jim still called to wish everyone a merry Christmas, Liz and Jim had grown apart as Liz felt lonely and wanted to be loved. Confiding in her friend Bet Lynch, she confessed that she didn't think she'd be able to cope waiting for Jim to be released.
Due to his good behaviour, around three years into his sentence, Jim was moved to an open prison with hopes that he'd soon be granted parole. Despite this, Jim had grown unhappy himself and so called Steve and asked him to come and visit. Jim had caught wind from one of his friends outside the prison that Liz was having an affair with Laurie Dyson, manager of The Black Dog pub in Blackpool, where she was now employed. Jim asked Steve to try and find out what was going on, if anything, between them to which he reluctantly agreed. This proved to be inadequate for Jim though as less than a week later Steve received another call from Jim, informing him that he had escaped while on a day release and needed picking up. Steve agreed and made his way to pick up his dad as quickly as possible.
Steve returned home to his wife Karen with Jim in town, much to her disgust as she knew he was supposed to be locked up and hated the idea of a fugitive living with them. Jim promised the pair he wouldn't be staying for long and all he needed was a lift to Blackpool so he could see Liz, to which Steve agreed. Jim was nearly caught the next day when the police came by to inform Steve of Jim's breakout and to ask if he'd seen him. Despite Steve staying adamant that he hadn't, the police searched the apartment with Jim only avoiding capture by hiding in a compartment in the airing cupboard. While still in Blackpool, catching up with Bet and Fred Elliott at a Newton and Ridley conference, Liz caught wind of Jim's escape. Liz voiced her concerns to Bet, hoping that Jim would turn himself in rather than face a harsher sentence if caught. Jim was determined not to go back to prison however and so he, Steve and Karen set off for Blackpool in the early hours of the morning. Steve informed Liz of Jim's imminent arrival and had told Bet who had agreed to provide Jim with use of Fred Elliot's caravan, as he had given her the keys days earlier. Steve dropped Jim off at the caravan and after a hurried goodbye, departed with Karen.
Not long afterwards Liz showed up and the pair had a passionate reunion. Jim demanded to know if she was having an affair with Laurie to which she responded in the negative. Jim was relieved and confided in her about his plan. He planned on fleeing to Ireland and wanted to take Liz with him. With her options being run away and start a new life with the man she loved or wait another 5 years to see him, she agreed to flee with him. Bet smuggled Jim to the coast and stowed him away in a boat owned by Cecil Newton until Liz was ready. It was a race against time as Laurie had seen Jim and Liz together and had informed the police that he was in Blackpool. Eventually Liz joined him on the boat and after saying farewell to Steve, set off for their new life in Ireland. Disaster struck, however when the pair saw Ashley Peacock and Claire Casey who had encountered difficulty and were trapped adrift on a boat that was rapidly filling with water. Jim wanted to leave them behind as now was their only time to escape but Liz persuaded him to turn back and help them. Ashley and Claire were astonished to see them but nevertheless grateful. When they got back to the marina to drop them off, the police were waiting and Jim was arrested, but not before he denied that Steve and Liz helped him in any way in order to protect them. Jim had the privelage of the open prison taken away from him and he was incarcerated in a different prison, Highmoor, for the rest of his sentence.
Contact continued with Jim and his family, with Jim once again calling on Christmas day 2004.
Things further looked up when the following year it appeared that Jim was eligible for parole and could be back home soon.This was good news for Liz who was once again getting lonely and tempted by the idea of speed-dating. Steve encouraged Jim to smooth things over with her before his release in order to to save his marriage. Jim, however, ruined everything by letting his temper get the better of him. His cellmate had used his toothpaste without him asking and so Jim overreacted and beat him up. This resulted in Jim's parole being denied and it now seemed evermore likely that Jim would be in prison for the full duration of his eight year sentence. This was the final straw for Liz who came to visit him one last time and requested a divorce. Liz told him that she couldn't keep waiting for him and that she was so upset with only being able to see her husband once a month. Liz continued by saying that his temper always got the better of him and that once more he had let it destroy their marriage. Jim was broken by Liz's request and begged her not to do it, having to be restrained by the prison guards to stop him from running after her as she left.
In the next two years Jim decided to better himself, promising to ditch alcohol once he was out and took anger management classes in the meantime, clearly taking what Liz said to heart.
By 2007 contact had once again become infrequent, with only Steve visiting Jim from time to time. In the years since her second divorce from Jim, Liz had met a band member called Vernon Tomlin and the two had gotten engaged with the wedding date set for New Years Eve of the same year. In late November, while working at Street Cars, Steve got a call from Jim to tell him that he was getting released the next day and that he hoped Steve would come and pick him up. Steve was surprised but delighted and agreed. Steve confided in his then girlfriend Michelle Connor that he was worried what his mum would say about Jim's release, given that Jim had no idea about Vernon or the wedding. Because of this, Steve left the next morning in secret leaving Michelle to cover for him when Liz noticed he was gone. After a slight delay due to Jim saying goodbye to his friends inside and a brief admin cock-up, Jim was released after serving 7 years. He greeted his son warmly and telling him that it was good to see him again and the two embraced. Jim suggested that the pair head in to town as he had £40 in discharge money and he was thirsty. Steve was shocked, however, when Jim suggested a coffee and not, as he'd expected, a pint. While having their coffee by the quayside, Steve took the opportunity to show Jim photos of his daughter Amy, who Jim was dying to meet, but also to tell Jim about Liz's upcoming wedding. Steve was amazed when Jim took the news remarkably well, wishing the pair the best and promising not to come near Weatherfield or the Rovers unless invited. After the pair shared a brief walk and reminissced about old times, Steve dropped Jim off at his new residence, a Bail Hostel in Eccles.
There was still the matter however, of informing Liz. The next day, Steve took her to Valandro's and broke the news to her over lunch. Liz was aghast at first, despite Steve telling her that he was a changed man and that he'd promised not to bother them. Once she had time to calm down, Liz admitted that she was happy he was out of prison at last, but didn't want him to interfere with her new life to which Steve promised that he wouldn't. However despite this, when the pair went to return home, they found Jim outside the Rovers, about to enter. He was only stopped when Steve called out to him to ask him what he was doing. His attempt to talk to Liz ended badly when she asked him to leave her be and rushed inside to tell Vernon what had happened. Jim was then left to try and explain himself to his son, telling him he only wanted to look at the Rovers, for old time's sake. He then departed back to Eccles.
The following day, Steve took Amy to meet Jim at the park. Jim was delighted to finally meet his Granddaughter and the trio had a great time playing with Amy in the playground. Jim asked Steve whether there was any room for him in his life that he'd built whilst Jim was in prison. Jim told Steve about his plans to build a new life for himself, to be a good dad to him and a good Granddad to Amy. He tried to rid Steve of any doubts he still may have by saying that if he were to misbehave, he'd be locked up again until 2010. Their day was cut short unfortunately as Steve had lied to Liz and said he was going to the Cash and Carry and so needed to get Amy home before anyone became suspicious. Jim was disappointed but understanding and said hugged Amy before saying goodbye. As Steve left with Amy, Jim stared wistfully after them.
A week later, when Steve turned up for work at Street Cars, he was surprised to see Jim there, laughing and joking with Lloyd Mullaney, Steve's friend and co-owner of the business. Steve was happy to see him but advised him to go somewhere else as he knew Liz would be enraged if she saw him hanging round again. Jim took this as a sign he wasn't welcome and got up to leave but then Steve noticed he wasn't wearing shoes. After asking his dad where his shoes where, Jim admitted that his shoes and his suitcase had been stolen by a thief at the Hostel. Jim was adamant that he'd find himself some new clothes, but Steve insisted that he had spares and would go and fetch them from the Rovers. Despite his best efforts at remaining unseen, Liz caught Steve in the act and asked him what he was doing with a bag of clothes and a pair of shoes. Steve attempted to convince her that they were for Lloyd as a punter had thrown up on him, but Liz saw straight through him, advising him that yellow was not Jim's colour. Jim was thankful for Steve's help, but felt embarrassed that his son was caring for him and not the other way around. He reluctantly took the clothes, however. Steve offered to give him a lift back to the Hostel but Jim refused saying he'd rather walk despite the journey being a few miles. Jim told him that he preferred the long walk as he hated living there but couldn't move out as he needed a job to pay rent for somewhere else to live, but nobody would hire him as he lived in a bail hostel. A catch 22. Jim set off back, with Steve watching after him, feeling incredibly sorry for his dad. Later that day, he talked to Lloyd about his dad's situation. Lloyd had sympathy for Jim but couldn't let him be a driver due to his criminal record and he couldn't work the switch as there were already 3 operators. Steve then had the idea to take him on as a valet to help him get back on his feet. After some persuasion, Lloyd accepted. Steve asked Jim to meet him at the cab Office the next day. When he turned up, Steve offered him the job. Jim was unsure as he didn't want to cause any trouble for Steve or make Liz upset. Steve told Jim that he and Lloyd were sure and that as long as he stayed away from Liz and Vernon he'd be fine. Jim was overjoyed at the prospect of a job and happily accepted Steve's offer. Jim started work that night, introducing himself to Eileen Grimshaw, the switch operator, who hadn't been told that he was now working for them. Jim explained that although she may be uncomfortable working for an ex-con, he wasn't going to cause trouble or steal from her. The pair started to get along after Jim jokingly told her that she could boss him around when Steve turned up, happy to see things looking up for Jim. Jim asked when he could see Amy again to which Steve told him he'd work it out with Liz.
Once Jim had finished valeting all the cars, he and Eileen made Christmas decorations for the office together, while joking with one another. It was in the midst of this that Liz arrived, wanting to have a private word with Jim. Eileen hurried off, leaving the pair to talk. Liz was hostile towards Jim, asking him why he was here and why he wasn't going to Spain to see Andy, or even further, to Australia. She told him that she knew he'd cause trouble and that she'd rather him be in prison where she knew where he was at all times. Jim responded by saying that he didn't blame her for thinking negatively of him but that he just wanted a quiet life and to spend time with the people he loved most. Liz accepted this and the two took the conversation outside. Jim wished Liz all the best for her wedding to Vernon and Liz politely asked him to stay away. Jim promised he wouldn't ruin it saying he was truly happy for her. It was then that Steve showed up, giving Jim an advance on his wages, to which Jim was humbled. He thanked Steve for his kindness and headed off home once more.
A few days later, Jim met up with his old friend Bill Webster who had returned to the UK from Germany. Bill convinced Jim to have a drink with him in the Rovers. Upon arriving, Bill ordered two orange juices but Jim shot him down, saying that Bill could still have a drink even if he wasn't. Bill introduced Jim to Michelle who was working the bar that night and things looked to be going well until Liz showed up and was frosty towards Jim. He attempted to make light conversation with her but she cut it short, asking when he'd be leaving. Ken and Deirdre Barlow then showed up with Amy as the trio had spent the day together. Jim was happy to see Ken and Deirdre again and even more happy to see his granddaughter. However, Liz took Amy from Jim's arms and attempted to guilt him into leaving the pub by saying he needed to go back to the hostel. Bill and the Barlows persuaded him to stay, however, as Bill hadn't spoken to Jim in years and felt bad enough that Jim couldn't have a proper drink, let alone not join him in the pub at all. Ken ordered another round of drinks for the four of them and they settled in for an evening's drinking. A few hours later, the Barlows had departed and Jim was enjoying another orange juice whilst a trio of young men were getting increasingly rowdy behind him. Eventually, one of the men tripped and knocked into him, spilling his drink all down Jim's back and causing Jim to spill his juice too. Liz was distraught as she expected Jim to fly off the handle like he occasionally did in the old days, however, Jim handled the situation well, telling the man it wasn't his fault, and sending him to play darts on the other side of the pub. When the man's friend offered to buy him a drink for his kindness, he politely declined and told him to join his friend playing darts. Liz was impressed by Jim's cool-headedness and bought him another drink to say thank you.
At closing time, Jim and Bill were the last men left at the bar. The two were heading off when Liz asked to have a private word with Jim. Jim said goodnight to Bill who then departed. Liz apologised for not being welcoming to Jim and vowed to put the past behind her for Steve and Amy's sake. Jim agreed and pointed out that he understood why she acted the way she did. Whilst they were talking, Vernon slipped in through the back door and interrupted them. Liz introduced Vernon to her ex-husband. Jim was polite but Vernon was more abrasive, telling Jim that he didn't want Liz upset. He assumed that Jim had caused some kind of trouble, but Liz denied it. Jim told Vernon that the past was gone and that the future was what mattered now. He then said goodnight and left the couple to it. Once Jim had left and the pub was locked up, Vernon accused Liz of still having feelings for Jim and they argued. As Jim left, he turned round for one last look at the Rovers and saw the silhouettes of Liz and Vernon arguing in their bedroom. Anger soon turned to passion, however, and the pair kissed. Jim looked away, visibly upset as he thought about the past.
Days later, Jim went to the Bookies and whilst there met Blanche Hunt, mother of Deirdre and the pair shared a bit of a laugh and some banter, mostly at Jim's expense.The two got gossiping and Blanche told Jim that she didn't like Vernon and that he puts in no work at the Rovers. Jim was amused to hear this and liked hearing all the gossip about Liz's new man. Jim shared his advice on a horse to bet on with her and sure enough, the horse won and the pair won some money. As they left the bookies, arm in arm, they happened upon Liz and Deirdre who'd just returned from a shopping trip in town. Liz and Deirdre had a laugh at the odd couple who'd spent their afternoon gambling together before conversation turned to the wedding, to which Liz extended an invite to Blanche, but not Jim. Blanche offered to buy tea for her daughter with her winnings and so the two set off. Jim and Liz stayed behind for a quick chat, with Jim making a joke that Blanche was the most female company he'd had in years. It was at this moment that Vernon came outside to change a barrel and saw the ex-couple laughing together, making him extremely jealous.
The following week, Jim popped into the Rovers to pick up Amy as he was going to spend the day with her. Michelle took him through to the back where Vernon was writing his wedding vows. Vernon realised he'd left Amy with the Barlows next door and so rushed off to get her. Michelle left Jim to stay in the back room until he returned. Jim looked around the back room, remembering how he and Liz had wanted to run the place many years ago. He then saw the paper on the table and gave it a read, finding out very quickly that it was the vows. Jim read a portion out loud to himself, struggling to read what Vernon had written. When he returned with Amy, he found Jim and Liz chatting about bringing up the twins and laughing about how Steve had the pair of them working for him. The sight of his fianceé with her ex bothered Vernon but he didn't let it show too much as he handed Amy over to Jim. Jim left for a day out with his Granddaughter and on the way out complimented Liz's hair as she had just had it done. Vernon realised he'd failed to notice and quickly scrabbled to compliment her too. As Liz returned to serving customers, Jim whispered to Vernon that he'd hidden his vows under the cushion on the sofa as he assumed that Vernon didn't want Liz to see them. Jim left the pub, however Vernon followed him and demanded to know why he read his vows, exclaiming that he had no right to do so. Jim apologised but reiterated that he hid them from Liz for Vernon's sake, to which Vernon thanked him. Jim then said to Vernon he thought his vows were good and that as he had known Liz for so long, he could tell they'd bring a tear to her eye. Vernon was pleased to hear this and seemed to finally be warming to Jim. As Vernon returned to the Rovers, Jim expressed amusement towards Vernon, wondering aloud to Amy what Liz saw in him.
Vernon had his stag night a couple of days later. It was a small event, with him, Steve, Bill and Dev Alahan being the only ones to join him, albeit reluctantly. Jim was passing by and upon seeing this, decided to pop into the Rovers for a water. He had a brief chat with Liz in which he mentioned seeing the stag party and how small it was. Liz told Jim that she wouldn't badmouth Vernon whatever he said, to which Jim responded by wondering if Vernon would make Liz as happy as he did. He was again present at the Rovers the next day when Liz's Hen Night began. Vernon was making comment to Dev about how Liz had booked a stripper called Commando Sam for the night. Jim chimed in with a jibe about how Liz couldn't resist a man in uniform, alluding to his army days. This once again made Vernon jealous and he began trying to convince Dev and anyone else listening that he was still in peak condition, much to Dev's embarrassment. Jim departed the pub with all the other male patrons when the Hen Night officially got underway.
On Christmas Day, Jim popped round to see his family. He gave Betty Williams his compliments of the season at the bar, before proceeding through to the back to deliver Amy a doll he'd bought for her as a Christmas Present. Vernon was unhappy to see Jim, as Jim made another jibe at him about his heavy suntan, but Steve was happy to see his dad, and thanked Jim for buying the doll for Amy. Jim wished it could have been more, but he just didn't have the money at the time. Steve suggested that Jim stay with them for Christmas dinner, but he declined as he didn't want to ruffle any feathers. He asked instead if it would be okay for him to spend a few hours in the bar to which Steve agreed. Jim spent a few hours chatting and drinking with Harry Mason and Jerry Morton, all of them talking about women and their wives, or in Jim's case, ex-wife. Steve came through to see him once they were done with dinner and gave Jim a wrapped-up plate of Christmas dinner for him to eat. Jim decided to take it back to the hostel as they had a microwave there. Jim bid farewell to his drinking companions and wished them all the best and went to set off when Steve stopped him and asked what he was going to do for Christmas. Jim told him his friends had a radio and set of cards back at the hostel and so he'd be fine. Steve commented it sounded like prison. Jim responded that as long as he got to see Amy on Christmas day he'd be fine and set off. Steve said goodbye, but was visibly upset for his father being so isolated at Christmas time. Jim came back the next day and saw Steve about to drive his taxi. Jim asked if he had a fare and Steve told him that he was only going shopping for wedding shoes. Jim asked if Steve wanted company to which Steve happily accepted and the pair headed off to town. Upon returning, father and son went for a drink in the Rovers and Steve showed off his new shoes to the bride and groom to be. Afterwards, Steve and Jim were chatting about Vernon with Jim saying he seemed like a nice enough man. Steve then told him about Liz's fling with Derek the drayman a few months ago. Jim expressed disbelief, but promised not to tell anyone he'd heard it from Steve.
Jim attended the leaving party for Sarah Platt and her husband Jason Grimshaw that was held in the pub. Jim and Vernon were very hostile with one another at the event, with Jim agreeing with Vernon that he seemed weak willed after he made a remark about Jim;s newfound teetotalism. Jim jokingly made a comment to himself that he didn't remember his leaving party when he went to prison. Jim offered to help Vernon behind the bar as the pub was beginning to get busy, but Vernon shot him down, saying that his help was not needed as he and Liz were running it just fine and that he should stay on his side of the bar. This angered Jim, but he kept a lid on it, simply saying that Vernon had put him in his place, and went back to drinking his juice. A disagreement between Liz and Vernon soon arose, as Vernon had agreed to meet his best man, Bob Castle to discuss the wedding on Sunday, but Liz needed someone to look after Amy that day, as she was busy sorting out the Rovers for the wedding reception and Steve was busy elsewhere. Vernon reluctantly agreed to cancel his meeting, but Jim had overheard everything. Later on, Jim caught Liz alone and told her he had a solution to her problem. The two then later told Vernon that they'd solved everything so that he could see Bob. Jim would take care of Amy that day. Vernon clearly disapproved but said nothing, even when Jim mocked his musical background.
On the eve of the wedding, Jim bumped into Vernon coming out of the Rovers as he was going in. Jim wished Vernon all the best for the wedding and shook his hand. Vernon tried to stand up to Jim and told him he wont be bullied and that he was going to marry Liz no matter what. Jim expressed his doubts at his statement before heading into the pub. Jim helped Liz, Deirdre and Michelle to prepare for the reception, showing Amy how to make a cake box in the process. He expressed concern over Liz's nerves to Deirdre, but she brushed it off. Liz got Jim to hang up banners above the windows and got infuriated when she kept making him move it as to her it didn't look right. Once it was finally right, and with Liz and Jim the only people left in the bar, the two began talking. Liz confided that she'd like a cigarette despite her quitting smoking. Jim reminded her of the time in the summer of 1974 where Liz gave up smoking while they were on holiday, not because she wanted to, but because the pair of them were skint. Liz was expressing her astonishment that he remembered when Deirdre came back into the bar with tea and noticed the two of them in deep, reminiscing conversation. Afterwards, Jim took Amy to the back room to read her a story. Deirdre took the opportunity to ask Liz what was going on between them. Liz denied having feelings for Jim and told her that her future was with Vernon. Once the pub was mostly ready, Liz went into the back to see how Jim and Amy were, only to find Jim on his own reading the paper as Michelle had taken Amy with her upstairs. Liz told Jim there was more work to be done and as they went to go out to the bar Jim made a move on her, which Liz rejected. Jim apologised, saying he'd forgotten for a moment that they weren't together. Liz told him not to do it again and walked to the bar, where Vernon had just returned. The pair acted like nothing happened in front of Vernon. Jim once again wished them the best and left the pub, telling Liz he'd see her tomorrow.
On the day of Liz and Vernon's wedding on New Year's Eve, Liz expressed her doubts about marrying Vernon privately. Deirdre encouraged her to follow her heart and so Liz went to the Rovers to speak to Vernon and call off the wedding. However, when Liz got to the Rovers back yard, she found Jim waiting there for her. Jim told Liz he knew that she still loved him, yet she continued to deny it, saying it was all in the past. Jim then expressed his doubts about whether Liz really loved Vernon. Liz asked him to leave, but Jim wouldn't budge. He then took Liz's hands and told her that if she could look him in the eye and tell him that she loved Vernon, that he'd never bother them again. Unknown to the two, Vernon had nipped back into the Rovers as he'd left his speeches. As he went into the back he overheard Liz and Jim having a heated conversation and decided to listen in at the back door. Jim expressed disbelief that Liz was marrying a man like Vernon, calling him a bloody fool and saying he wouldn't let her marry him. When Liz said it wasn't any of his business, Jim said that it was because he loved her. He went on by saying that he didn't care what anyone else said, and that Liz was his wife and she always would be. Liz gave into temptation and the pair shared a passionate kiss. Vernon saw everything, however and ran out of the Rovers and flew straight towards Jim, grabbing him and pulling him away from Liz. Jim turned around and punched Vernon square in the face, knocking him into a stack of barrels.Jim then declared that Liz was his and that Liz didn't want to marry a sniveling apology of a man like Vernon. Jim then proceeded to hit Vernon a few more times while he was down. Suddenly Bob, Dev and Steve arrived after hearing the commotion. Jim turned round and hit Bob as well before getting restrained by Steve. Vernon was taken inside and Steve flew into a rage at his dad, saying he thought he'd changed but he was wrong. He then told him to leave them alone and sent him on his way.
The next day, on the 1st January, Jim emerged from the shed in the Rovers back yard and startled Michelle. He asked her to not shout as he wanted no more trouble.Once she'd calmed down, he asked if she could get Steve to talk to him and after that he'd be on his way. He made his way to Street Cars to wait for him. Michelle went inside and told Steve and he promptly headed over. Jim apologised profusely for lashing out at Vernon but said it was worth it as he'd helped Liz to see Vernon wasn't right, as he still believed Liz had called off the wedding. When Steve informed him otherwise, he was regretful. Steve had had enough however and reluctantly told him he couldn't be a part of the family anymore and that he wasn't to come back to Weatherfield. Jim was deeply hurt, but accepted what Steve said, asking if he could say goodbye to Amy and that he'd beg if he had to. Steve felt sorry for him and agreed, bringing Amy over to Street Cars. Jim gave her one last hug and told her he'd never forget her, even though she'd probably forget him. He then told Steve that he didn't fault him for putting the blame on him. He apologised once more, telling him that sometimes he still thought he was still Sergeant McDonald and that when he saw himself as that and not the lonely man he'd become, it was very easy to slip over the edge. Steve was remorseful but said goodbye to his dad. Jim the began the walk back to Eccles, leaving Weatherfield to never return.
Steve's relationship with Michelle came to an end in 2008 after having a fling with Becky Granger. Not long afterwards, he began a relationship with Becky and the pair became engaged, with the wedding set for August 2009. In the week leading up to the wedding, Becky tried getting a hold of Jim so that Steve could have his family at the wedding, as Liz was in Spain visiting Andy and had been for months. The day before the wedding, Becky confessed to Steve that she'd tried to get Jim to come but he was unsure if he could make it, telling her only that he'd try and be there. Steve took this as a no and was disappointed in his father once again. Steve was surprised, however, when Liz and Andy showed up on the morning of the wedding having returned from Spain the day before. Steve was happy to have at least some of his family present. Once Steve was ready he set off with his mother and brother to the Register Office. Once they were there, and the guests had started to arrive, everyone was waiting on the bride. Suddenly there was a knock at the door, which everyone assumed was Becky arriving, but Steve was amazed when his dad walked in having been able to make it. Steve was shocked but happy that his dad could make it, whilst Lloyd, who was the best man, was less than enthusiastic as he had embarked on a relationship with Liz after her divorce from Vernon. Andy was also surprised to see his father but soon overcame it and was pleased that the McDonald clan had reunited for Steve's wedding.
Despite what had happened at their last meeting, Liz was happy to see Jim and the feelings were reciprocated. Jim took her arm and led her back to her seat when Becky arrived and revealed that she had arranged for Jim to attend. Both Andy and Liz complimented how Becky looked and Jim joked that she now had the approval of the whole family. Jim sat with Liz as the ceremony got underway, with his arm around her, much to Lloyd's disdain. Jim and Liz got along fantastically and were very close throughout the Service, showing that the events of last time were long behind them.
Jim attended the reception at the Rovers afterwards and listened to the speeches by Lloyd and Becky alongside his family. Becky's speech was suddenly cut short by the police drug squad who had a warrant to search the pub. Unbeknownst to anyone present, Becky's drug dealing ex-boyfriend Slug had planted drugs in Becky's handbag earlier that day after being forced to do so under threat of arrest by DC Hooch, a detective who had a grudge against Becky after he arrested her the previous year. Whilst the search was underway, everyone had to stay where they were and nobody was allowed to leave or even go into the toilets. Jim accused Andy of orchestrating the whole thing as a joke on Steve, but he denied it.
As the lockdown continued, Lloyd used the opportunity to catch Jim alone and demand to know what his intentions were regarding Liz. Jim was confused, not understanding what Lloyd was talking about until he spelled it out to him. Jim demanded to know what it had to do with him, and Lloyd revealed that the two were in a relationship. Jim thought he was mad, and joked to one of the police officers that Lloyd was on drugs. Lloyd told him to back off, but Jim squared up to him, letting him know that he won't be told what to do. Jim still refused to believe what he'd been told, recounting what Becky told him about Liz being in Spain with Andy for months. He was amused to find out that Lloyd wasn't with her in Spain and he mocked their relationship's long distance. Lloyd told him it wasn't his business but Jim reminded him he'd brought Liz up. Lloyd warned him once more to stay away and that Liz didn't want him to complicate things, but Jim saw through this and realised it was Lloyd who wanted him to stay away, not Liz. At this moment, Steve came over to try and defuse the situation and inadvertently revealed that the two had broken up. Steve then told his dad to hit Lloyd if he was really serious about their disagreement but Jim refused to do so, as did Lloyd. Steve then told the pair to shut up and stop arguing before leaving. The reception ended in disaster, as the police found the planted drugs and arrested Becky for possession with intent to supply and took her to the police station.
The search continued even after Becky had been taken away and the guests were made to stay, including Jim. Jim questioned whether it was wise for him to keep drinking after what had happened. He was shocked to learn from Liz that Becky had been involved with drugs before. Jim asked Steve why he married her if he knew about her past, to which Steve responded by pointing out that the pair of them also had colourful pasts. Steve then started to doubt himself, wondering if he'd made a mistake in marrying Becky. Both Jim and Liz encouraged Steve to annul the marriage due to Becky's drug dealing ways. However, Steve stood strong and refused to annul, stating that he loved Becky and would help her out of this mess. Later on, Jim sat down with Liz and asked her why she didn't tell him about her and Lloyd. She confirmed that they were no longer together. Jim the encouraged her to tell him that herself as it didn't seem to him that Lloyd had gotten the message.
The next day, Jim and Andy went to Roy's Rolls, a cafe owned by Roy and Hayley Cropper, the unofficial guardians of Becky, for breakfast and to see if there was any news on the situation. Hayley admitted there was no news but that they were going to the Rovers to see Becky who'd been released on bail. Jim laughed and admitted he didn't care about Becky as he thought she was guilty, and that he was more concerned about Steve at that moment in time. The Croppers were unhappy to hear this and scolded Jim. He didn't apologise but admitted that he hoped deep down that Becky was innocent. Later on, the two of them went to the Rovers to help Liz clean the place up. Liz didn't want to open the pub after the previous day's events but Jim encouraged her to do so as he knew from his experience that people wouldn't care what had happened and that they'd stick with their usual boozer, but if she left it too late that she'd lose custom. She begrudgingly agreed.
The next day, with Andy due to leave, Jim came to visit Steve and listened to his side of the story. He finally got on board with Steve and Becky's side of the story and offered Steve his help. He recommended going to taxi drivers and asking for their help in finding Slug as they would be the people who'd recognise a face if they were shown a picture. Steve thanked his dad and hugged him, grateful for his help. Jim then made a last minute decision to go and stay with Andy in Spain for a while and so would leave that day too. Jim and Liz exchanged an awkward goodbye before Jim went outside with Andy to their taxi. Jim said goodbye to Steve, wishing him and Becky a happy marriage. Just as he was about to get into the taxi, Liz came out of the Rovers, dissatisfied with their goodbye and wanting to give Jim a proper sendoff. The pair got close to one another and it looked for a minute like they would kiss, but Jim pulled out at the last minute, opting for a hug instead. Jim then kissed her hand and told her he'd see her soon, before getting into the taxi and setting off for the airport.
A year later, Jim had returned to the UK and decided to visit Steve and Becky at the Rovers for his birthday in November. On the morning of his Birthday, Steve gave him a call to wish him happy birthday and also gave the phone to Amy and Max Turner for them to say happy birthday to their Granddad. Max, however, wasn't Becky's son but her nephew and had been bought from Becky's irresponsible sister Kylie who was actually Max's mother. Steve told Jim that Max was Amy's cousin on Becky's side and Jim was none the wiser to his parentage, even looking forward to meeting the boy. Jim then informed Steve he'd be coming to visit later that day.
Jim was true to his word and that night he showed up at the Rovers, catching Steve and Becky by surprise. Both men were ecstatic to see one another, and Becky was happy to see her father in law too. Steve and Jim went to the back so that Jim could open his birthday presents. Jim wasn't amused to receive a sweater as one of them, but Steve's gift of a new mobile phone cheered him up. Jim took the opportunity to ask where Liz was as he'd wanted to see her as part of his visit. Steve regretfully told him she was away at a brewery function. Jim was upset saw this as an excuse to avoid him. Just then Becky entered with Max as she was taking him to his first sleepover and wanted Jim to be able to meet him. Jim was glad to see Max and interested to learn that Becky had a sister and a nephew. Jim then waved goodbye to Max as Becky took him away. Jim then settled down with Steve and Kevin in the bar for a few drinks where he inquired as to whether Liz was single or not. Kevin and Steve mocked his lack of subtlety. Discussion then turned to the recent passing of Jack Duckworth, who was close with both Jim and Kevin. Jim praised his character and said he was proud to have known him. He then decided to attend his funeral that was being held the next day. Not long afterwards, Roy and Hayley Cropper entered the Rovers and broke the news to everyone that local resident Gary Windass had been injured while with the army in Afghanistan and that 3 of his fellow unit members had died. They requested a few minutes silence for them to pay respects. Upon hearing this, Jim got up and walked to the bar, raising his glass out of respect to his fellow military men who had died. Jim spent the night at the Rovers, sleeping on the couch.
Jim was present on the Street the next day as Jack's funeral procession began. As the hearse drove past Jim started a round of applause that everyone else there soon joined in with as one of the Street's most beloved residents began his final journey. Jim sat with Becky and Steve at the service watching teary eyed as Tyrone Dobbs made a speech saying goodbye to the man who came to be his father figure. After the funeral, back at the Rovers, Jim got drunk with Becky and opened up about the past and how he wished he could turn back the clock so that he didn't lose Liz. Becky and Steve encouraged him to look forward and not to the past. Jim went home once the reception was over. The day after, Jim decided to ignore what was said to him and planned to meet with Liz. He arranged for a bouquet of flowers to be delivered to the Rovers with a message for Liz. As it happened, Owen Armstrong, Liz's boyfriend was leaving the Rovers as the flowers were being delivered and upon discovering they were for Liz took them from the florist. Owen immediately tore off the note and read it, discovering that the flowers were from Jim and that he wanted Liz to meet him at 7:30 at the Flying Horse pub. With this, Owen set off with the flowers to confront Jim. When he arrived at the pub, Owen found Jim alone waiting for Liz to arrive. Owen set the flowers down next to him and introduced himself as Liz's boyfriend, commenting that he recognised Jim from the pictures in Liz's bedroom. Jim laughed in Owen's face and declared there was only one man in Liz's life, and that it wasn't Owen. Owen fired back by saying that Jim was no longer relevant to Liz as they'd broken up years ago. Jim commented on the fact that it was Owen who intercepted and returned the flowers, not Liz and that he'd rather hear that he wasn't wanted from Liz herself, showing that he didn't believe Owen and wasn't phased by him. Owen warned him once more to stay away, but Jim remained unshaken and simply asked Owen why he was still there. Owen silently departed, leaving Jim by himself with the flowers, going back to the Rovers to have a drink. Whilst Owen conversed with Steve, Jim entered having come to see his son. Jim was delighted to see Owen again and took particular enjoyment in informing Steve about the intercepted flowers and the threats he'd made against him. Steve was unimpressed and had words with Owen once the Rovers was closed for the night.
The following week, Owen was giving Steve a quote on some repair work from the Rovers when Jim arrived, wanting to see how Steve and Amy were. Owen was angered when Jim once more asked after Liz whilst Jim was disappointed that she was too busy to see him once again, this time she was at the hairdressers. Jim once again irritated Owen later in the night when he referred to Owen as "cowboy". As Jim went into the back to see Amy, Owen glared after him. The following morning Steve received a call from Jim informing him that he'd been hospitalised after being set upon by a group of men in a pub. Owen offered Steve a lift to the hospital to which he accepted. When they got there they found Jim battered and bruised but otherwise alright. He told Steve and Owen that he wasn't going to bother informing the police about the fight. After staying for a while Steve decided to leave but first nipped to the toilet. As they were now alone, Owen got close to Jim and gave him a veiled threat to stay away from the Rovers or else a similar fate would befall him. As it turned out, the men who beat Jim up were Owen's builders who he'd paid to carry out the attack. This dawned on Jim as Owen left, leaving him concerned for his family being around this man.
Jim was discharged the day after and Steve was there to give Jim a lift home. As he was getting dressed he warned Steve about Owen, telling him about Owen arranging for him to be beaten and that he shouldn't trust him and should keep a watchful eye on Liz. The two men went for a quick pint before Jim said goodbye once again and got off home. After learning this, Steve became very distrustful of Owen, confiding in Lloyd that he didn't trust him or want him near his mum.Days later, after hearing what Owen had done from Steve, Liz declared wanted nothing to do with Owen and went to Spain to see Andy.
A few months after his encounter with Owen, Jim also decided to pay Andy a visit and when there Jim and Liz gave into their passions for one another and slept together. However, upon returning to the UK, Liz wrote the experience off as a one night stand and didn't pursue her relationship with Jim much to his disappointment.
2011-2016: Back in the big house
In 2011, Jim returned again when Liz had fallen out with Steve and Becky as it was believed that Becky was making a mess of her son's life. After a talk with Liz, Steve came up with a plan to buy the Rovers to pay off his debts, as he had got into financial problems when the pair "bought" nephew Max Turner from Becky's half-sister Kylie. Steve was angered by the idea and felt betrayed. However, when Becky came up with an idea to run off to Spain with Max and Amy to get away from both Kylie and Tracy, Steve agreed to sell the pub to Jim. His parents accepted the idea of Steve, Becky and the children running away, and looked forward to running the pub together and giving their relationship another go. However Jim was having problems with getting the money. On the day when Steve and Becky planned on fleeing, Jim was unable to make up the money for the pub. He met up with former cellmate Spoony, who presented him with a shotgun. He then went to a branch of Lancashire & Fyle Building Society intent on robbing it so he could get the £120,000 to buy the pub. However, the panic button was pressed and Jim ended up taking everyone in the bank hostage as the police arrived. Liz and Steve were called to the scene and Liz managed to talk Jim out through the phone. Jim let the hostages go and planned on killing himself, but decided to give himself up. He was arrested and put into a police car, and told Liz he was very sorry for everything. She visited him in Strangeways and promised that she would wait for him when he would be released. However later that night, she left the Street, and Steve visited him the next day with a letter she left for him and Jim blamed himself for everything.
Jim was given a sentence of a minimum of seven years' imprisonment. Steve was the only one to attend the trial; Liz chose not to return as she felt it would be too humiliating. Jim was upset by the snub and told Steve he wanted nothing more to do with any of his family.
While serving out the remainder of his sentence in Highfield Prison, Jim began selling alcohol under the name "The Landlord" and had built a reputation up for himself. In August 2014, he was approached by alcoholic Peter Barlow who was on remand for murdering Tina McIntyre. Jim decided to comply with his "requests" as he was a friend of son Steve, but told Peter that he would be expecting payment.
Over time Peter became dependent on Jim and was suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms (seemingly unnoticed by Jim). He then made a proposition to Peter - get him back in contact with Liz and Steve in exchange for more drink. Peter made a call to Steve begging him to visit him, and asked for him to visit his father. However Jim was instead visited by Liz who then told Jim to leave her and Steve alone. Angry Jim refused Peter more booze as he hadn't fulfilled his side of the deal. Jim later found Peter collapsed in the prison kitchens having found the booze, and summoned help. This earned his respect from Steve, who decided to make amends with his father for saving Peter's life. When Peter was discharged from Weatherfield General and was returned to prison, Jim warned him that the other prisoners weren't happy for Peter drinking most of the supply, and goaded him that his family was visiting, but Peter had no one. In revenge Peter told Tracy that Jim had supplied him with the booze, and in turn told Steve who again cut contact with his father. Angry Jim arranged for Peter to be beaten up.
In the aftermath of Peter's beating, Liz turned up at the prison for Deirdre's sake to beg Jim to leave Peter alone. Jim then resorted to blackmail, telling Liz to visit him in exchange for Peter being left alone. Liz complied, however when it began driving a wedge between her and partner Tony Stewart, she decided to cut off contact with Jim.
Still not wanting to lose her, Jim acquired a mobile phone and continued to harass Liz. When she visited him to ask him to stop, a delighted Jim informed her that he may be moved to an open prison soon, meaning that he could come and visit her. When this information got back to Steve who felt used by Jim, he turned up at the prison and reported Jim for illegally using a mobile phone and harassing Liz. An angered Jim had to be dragged away by prison guards as he swore revenge on Steve, with his sentence most likely being extended for his illegal activities.
Jim was hospitalised and diagnosed with Myotonic Dystrophy in October 2016. After his diagnosis, Jim promptly rang Steve to tell him that there was a 50% chance that he would have the condition too.
2018 onwards: Release and revenge scheme
In late 2018, Jim was released from Highfield Prison and after a few weeks he returned to the street - to the shock and dismay of Liz and Steve, and feigned again that he was a changed man, although the pair of them found it difficult to buy into his claims.
Jim met with Liz at the Viaduct Bistro and revealed to her that he found out their daughter Katie was still alive as there was a mix up at the hospital over 20 years ago, and later introduced her to Hannah Gilmore, who was supposedly their biological daughter. The revelation shocked Liz, although she was later ecstatic that she would finally be able to properly get to know the girl she thought she had lost. However unknown to Liz and everyone else, Hannah was in fact a girl impersonating Katie, and Jim was in on the scheme in order to get revenge on his family for abandoning him in prison. Jim was also in a relationship with Hannah, and shared a kiss with her in the car following a meeting with Liz at the bistro, feeling victory at tricking her. Hannah later confirmed to Jim that the gullible Liz had offered to give Hannah and Jim her life's savings, after Hannah faked a collapse whilst with Liz at the Rovers. Liz also told Hannah that if need be, she would give Hannah her pension money. And to top things off, Liz also asked Hannah to move in with her. Hannah felt triumphant and immediately told Jim that they may be receiving £10,000 from Liz in the near future due to their lies. However, Jim was furious, and said that it would not be enough. Jim was also otherwise occupied, as he began to wonder if their scheme was going too far. Hannah attempted to get Jim fully back on side, by reminding Jim that none of his family cared for him when he was diagnosed with Myotonic Dystrophy back in 2016. However, later that night. Liz expressed her remorse for not caring for Jim's condition and felt guilty for letting him go through having the illness alone. Jim forgave her, and the pair hugged, but Jim showed clear signs of guilt.
Jim soon tried to dig deep into the relationship of Johnny Connor and Liz, as he was unaware of the brief fling between the two. He met with his son Steve in the Rovers, who told him of the relationship between the two. Jim also lied of the whereabouts of Steve to Tracy Barlow. Jim would later send Johnny an anonymous text, telling him that if he did not pay £50,000 to him, then he'd expose the fling to Jenny.
Eventually, Hannah took over the blackmailing scheme, sending Jenny a bouquet of flowers with a threatening message inside. When it had been delivered, she sent another text message to Johnny, but made sure to send it whilst Jim was in Johnny's sight so that he'd stop suspecting him of being the blackmailer. Johnny agreed to leave the money in a bag at Victoria Gardens. However, this was Carla Connor's idea, as she was trying to help her father to escape the blackmail. She resolved to leave fake money in the form of old newspaper in the bag and would wait to see who came to collect it. When the bag was planted and a text sent to Hannah confirming the drop off, Hannah, who was dining in Speed Daal with Jim, Liz and Eileen Grimshaw, secretly triggered the fire alarm so that a crowd would form outside, obscuring the view. The plan worked at first, however Kirk Sutherland, Daniel Osbourne and Tyrone Dobbs were videoing the garden from a fire escape in an attempt to catch the Manchester big cat. Carla later looked at the footage with Johnny and discovered Hannah was the blackmailer. Johnny then broke this news to Liz.
It was at this time that, happier than ever, Jim began distancing himself from Hannah and the con, as he was spending more time with his family and getting close to them again. Jim's guilt reached new heights when Steve said he had missed his dad and asked him to be his best man for his upcoming wedding to Tracy Barlow. Even though he accepted, his guilt was hard to hide. Later, after a row with Hannah, Liz confided about the blackmail and her night with Johnny to Jim, oblivious to the fact he was already aware. The pair reminisced about old times and kissed on the street later, unaware that Hannah had seen everything.
Liz's £10,000 finally came through on the day of Steve and Tracy's wedding. And after lying to Hannah, saying that his kiss with Liz was part of the con, Jim said they could soon be out of Weatherfield quids in. However, Jim suggested that Hannah leave a few days before him to avoid suspicion, in reality wanting to stay with his family. Hannah refused, wanting to be with Jim, so the pair stayed for the wedding, where, after a minor change of plan, Jim walked Tracy down the aisle. Later on in the wedding, Liz told Jim she loved him and wanted to give their relationship another try. The pair kissed once more, again witnessed by Hannah who now understood that Jim's feelings were legitimate. With this, Jim made up his mind to stay. Hannah and Jim then rowed, with Jim saying that he didn't love her and that what he and Liz had was real. After asking to see Jim in private, Hannah feigned forgiveness and said she was going to leave Jim so he could be with Liz. Jim was delighted that he'd soon have his family back and accepted Hannah's request of a final kiss. However, Hannah didn't tell Jim that Liz was in the bathroom and when she emerged, saw the pair kissing. As a panicked Jim tried to explain, Hannah spitefully revealed all about the scam and how she wasn't her daughter. A distraught Liz ran away as Hannah tried to get Jim back on side, telling him that Liz wouldn't love him now. Jim was furious and after telling Hannah he never wanted to see her again, departed to find Liz.
Jim caught up with Liz at the cemetery. Liz was enraged by Jim's deception and how he had the audacity to show his face again. After an angry confrontation where Jim begged for forgiveness and declared his love for Liz, with Liz saying he'd stamped on Katie's grave, she pushed him to the ground, calling him a monster. With Jim unable to get up due to his illness, Liz came close to beating him with his own walking stick, but decided against the idea as it would make her as bad as he was. With all hopes of a romance dashed, Liz allowed Jim to get up, before leaving for home. Back at the wedding, Hannah had told Johnny where Liz was and he'd left to find her. When he got there, he found only Jim there in a bad way. Jim told Johnny that Liz had already left. After a brief verbal confrontation, Johnny departed leaving Jim alone at his daughter's grave.
After spending time with Katie, Jim left the Churchyard, intent on leaving Weatherfield. However, he soon saw Hannah following him in her car. Initially Jim stood by his word and told Hannah to leave him alone. However, Hannah told him that she forgave him for what he said and that he had been abandoned by his family once more. Jim said he was grateful and after telling Hannah she was the only one who still cared, got into her car, and the pair left for pastures new.
The pair were later arrested in December, and were held in police custody whilst evidence was amassed. However, due to lack of evidence and the fact that Liz handed her money over willingly they could not be charged and so were allowed to walk free.
Hobbies and interests
- Jim's Royal Engineers number was 67569897.
- Jim hails from Northern Ireland and was noted for his usage of Irish sayings, like finishing his sentences with "so it is" and "catch yourself on".
- Jim was also known for addressing people by their full Christian names i.e. Elizabeth, Andrew & Steven for his immediate family. He also had a habit of mispronouncing names such as Rackwell and Tirrone.
- Actor Charlie Lawson joined the cast of Coronation Street in 1989 as part of the new McDonald family alongside (Beverley Callard) as his on-screen wife, and Jim's first scenes were aired in October 1989.
- In 1999, it was announced that Lawson had decided to leave the serial as he felt that Jim's storylines had become too "improbable" and feared that the writers no long knew how to utilise the character and that he would be eventually killed off had he stayed. Jim was written out in 2000 after ten years, however continued to make guest appearances from 2003 onwards after the decision was made, due to being a popular character, to "leave the door open".
- In April 2011, the character was written out in a building society robbery plot which saw Jim return to prison. Actor Charles Lawson reflected on the storyline in 2014 and admitted he found it stupid, however he said that there were problems behind the scenes as Beverley had to take a break after real life problems (the character was absent for a few months between November 2010 and March 2011) which prompted rewrites.
- Jim was reintroduced in August 2014 as part of a storyline where Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) had been wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) and Charles Lawson was given a three month contract. He departed two months later and his final scenes aired on 22nd October 2014, until his return in September 2018 - three years and eleven months later.
First and last lines
"Yeah." (Final line, to Hannah Gilmore)
List of addresses
- 11 Coronation Street (1989-2000)
- Holmes Gate Prison (December 2000 to Unknown)
- Open Prison, Manchester (Unknown to November 2003)
- Highmoor Prison (November 2003 to November 2007)
- Bail Hostel, Eccles (November 2007 to Unknown)
- Unknown Address (Unknown to August 2009)
- Unknown Address, Spain (August 2009 to Unknown)
- Unknown Address, Weatherfield (Unknown to April 2011)
- Highfield Prison (April 2011 to 2018)
- Unknown Address (2018 to present)