Lesley "Les" Clegg was the owner of the Corner Shop in 1968. His alcoholism had almost destroyed his marriage to Maggie and despite his promise to stay sober, he fell off the wagon after a few weeks and recovered in psychiatric hospital.
Les and Maggie brought up Gordon, Maggie's sister Betty's son, as their own in Birmingham. Les was fond of the drink and his family suffered because of it; it made him violent and Maggie was an emotional wreck. In 1968, the Cleggs bought the Corner Shop in Coronation Street, Weatherfield, from previous owners David and Irma Barlow. Les was treating this new start as a chance to stay sober and chance his fortunes.
Things seemed to be going well so Maggie let him go celebrate his team's bowls victory, trusting him not to drink, but Les disappeared for two days and when he showed up again, drunk and bottle in hand, he tried to wreck the shop. Maggie tried to stop him but he punched her in the face, but he was knocked out by Gordon and taken to hospital, where he accepted that he needed help and saw a psychiatrist, who admitted him to a psychiatric hospital.
In early 1970, a sober and wiser Les left the hospital but Maggie refused to take him back and they divorced instead. A few months later, Maggie heard he was drinking again and after receiving a telegram in August informing her that he was critically ill in a Birmingham hospital, Maggie left Bet Lynch in charge of the shop in order to visit. She returned unexpectedly and unannounced in November.