Joss Shackleton was an old friend of Amy Burton's who claimed to be Vera Duckworth's biological father.

Joss was a practised liar and fantasist who told cock-and-bull stories about his own life to impress people. Many of his tall tales involved Royalty; in his career as a barber, he boasted that he'd shaved princes, prime ministers and maharajas, worked at the George V Hotel in Paris, and that he was in the middle of shaving Jack Buchanan when the air raid siren sounded and was ordered to carry on so that Jack looked presentable in the bomb shelter. Another claim was that he'd spent a period butlering at one of the finest houses in Kent and earned a fortune in tips, which he whittled away having picked up his employers' spending habits.

Joss's friendship with Vera's mother Amy appears to have been legitimate, dating back to when they lived a street apart from each other as children. In 1937, when Vera was born, he was serving in the army with Joe Kay. According to Joss, Vera's youth was an agonising time as he saw her every week but wasn't able to let on that he was her real father. He grew ever closer to a long-widowed Amy in their old age, except for a period in 1987 when Joss was courting a woman he met at a lonely hearts club who subsequently died. In February 1991, coincidentally right before Amy suffered a fatal heart attack, she made a new will instructing Vera to see that Joss wanted for nothing until his dying day. After the behest was revealed to Vera by her Auntie Cissie at Amy's funeral tea, Joss dropped the bombshell that he was Vera's father.

While Vera digested Joss's revelation, he was welcomed into her home, relegating the Duckworths' lodger Curly Watts to the sofa. Still grieving for her mother, Vera accepted Joss as her father more through force of will than any evidence proffered. Jack, on the other hand, had been sceptical since the will reading, suspecting that Joss had coerced Amy into making the behest and told Vera a pack of lies in order to sponge off them, despite having a flat of his own. Unfortunately, Vera was determined to carry out her mother's dying wish and wouldn't hear a word against Joss.

Jack wasn't beaten yet - he only had to prove that Joss was a liar. When Curly moved in with Angie Freeman, losing the Duckworths his rent, Jack asked Joss to chip in, to which Joss replied that he didn't carry money as he became a disciple of Gandhi after playing darts with him in Oldham - another tale which Vera accepted unquestionably. When Vera found a photo of Edward VII in Joss's possession, Joss explained that the former King was his grandfather, with his mother being the result of an affair between Edward and Joss's grandmother at a stately home in Leeds where she worked as a servant girl. Convinced that she had Royal blood in her, Vera dismissed Jack when he acted as the voice of reason; as a commoner, it was beyond his understanding.

In April, after returning from his cousin's in Scarborough, Joss began to mingle more in Coronation Street. He took a shine to Emily Bishop after chatting to her at the Friends of Weatherfield Hospital Charity Shop, but was oblivious when Phyllis Pearce fell for his charms. Emily wasn't interested in Joss, but put up with him and his flights of fancy out of politeness, to the extent of letting him have lunch with her at the Rovers. Percy Sugden, who was the only person aside from Jack who saw Joss for the fraud he was, was worried that Emily would fall for his patter and so, when he walked into the charity shop to find Joss tangoing with Emily to the music of old records, he jealously pushed him out of the way causing Joss to hit his head, knocking him out cold.

After a short stay in Weatherfield General and a blood transfusion, Joss was restored to health. A guilty Percy offered his blood but was the wrong type, as was Vera. Jack took this as cast iron proof that Joss wasn't Vera's father, but as his word regarding medical matters wasn't enough for Vera, he went to the blood centre to have it confirmed by a doctor. Unfortunately for Jack, Dr Bannerman told him that Joss and Vera could still be related. Thwarted yet again, Jack resigned himself to the fact that Joss would never leave.

A few days later, Jack applied for a job as a driver to a private house in Knutsford, with Vera as housekeeper. He knew that they stood no chance of being hired, hoping only to blag an interview so that they could make a huge expenses claim. Amazingly, Mrs Maxwell-Glover loved them and offered them the jobs, pending references. Joss had disapproved of the whole endeavour - particularly as there'd be no room for him in the staffs' quarters - but when he saw how much Vera wanted it, he forged references for them and also gave Jack a lesson on etiquette, using his experience from his purported years in service. However, at the last minute Vera got cold feet, unwilling to risk Mrs Maxwell-Glover checking up on the references.

In early May, the water went off on the terraced side of Coronation Street, resulting in Joss moving back home. When the water was turned back on, the bath Vera had been running flooded the house, and so Joss stayed away. Settled back in his own flat, Joss never returned to Coronation Street. He died two years later, on 8th November 1993. Vera wrote to the Queen to inform her of her cousin's passing and, as Joss had left no policies, she paid for her dad's funeral out of her recent bingo winnings. His flat contained no letters from the Royals but an ashtray inscribed "present from Windsor Castle" and an old pot dog, which Vera took home with her.

List of appearancesEdit


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