Mary had a deeply unhappy childhood, raised by her tyrannical mother Maureen. She was taught to obey her mother, who instilled in her life lessons she would frequently quote decades on. At fourteen, Mary was raped by an older man and gave birth to a son, Jude, who Maureen forced her to give away. Mary grew desperate to escape her mother's clutches but, as she was an only child, it fell to her to care for Maureen when she became old and infirm. Her only escape was entering competitions.
In 2008, after winning tickets to a Cliff Richard concert, Mary invited the runner-up, Norris Cole, with her, and they became friends. Mary always saw Norris as more than an acquaintance, but when they finally tied the knot in 2017, it was only to win a Mr and Mrs competition on Radio Weatherfield. They began divorce proceedings in 2019, when Norris decided to marry Freda Burgess.
Mary "moved" to the Coronation Street area in 2010 when she parked up her motorhome, won in a competition the year before. She lived there until 2015, when the council warned her that she was illegally encamped following a tip-off from a spiteful Todd Grimshaw. At this point, Mary moved into 7 Coronation Street, where she had a job as a nanny to Aadi and Asha Alahan until 2019.
In 2016, Mary traced her son Jude to South Africa and learned that she had a grandson on the way. She was thrilled when Jude, Angie and little George came to live in Weatherfield temporarily. When the Appletons' marriage fell apart over Jude's habitual lies, Mary sided with Angie and turned her back on her son.
Eccentric owing to her sheltered upbringing, Mary presents an effervescent personality to the world, and is often not taken seriously. She currently lives at 11 Coronation Street as a lodger of Eileen Grimshaw.
1970-2008: Overbearing mother and rape deception
Born in 1970, Mary was raised by her overbearing mother Maureen Taylor - who was scared of Mary leaving her (like her husband had) and therefore chipped away at Mary's confidence by imposing many restrictions on her life and often putting her down with nasty insults. Despite this, Mary was oblivious to her mother's schemes and obediently followed her rules. However, in 1984 while working as a nanny to two young children, Mary found herself raped by her employer - a man much older than her. After the rape Mary finally saw her mother's true colours - as she blamed Mary for what had happened to her and, after discovering she was pregnant, locked her away from the world before giving her baby, Jude Appleton, away.
Mary later became a carer to her ageing mother - who was unable to look after herself in her elder years. Despite the good deed, Maureen still mistreated her daughter.
2008-2010: Infatuation with Norris Cole
A competition addict, Mary became familiar with Norris Cole after repeatedly beating him at competitions. They met up in November 2008 and Mary was instantly taken with Norris. As they starting spending time together, Mary told Norris that she cared for her invalid mother and used the competitions as a way of escape. Although shy around most people, Mary was happier in Norris' company, although her boundless enthusiasm was often met with bemusement by the more cynical Norris.
As they grew closer, Mary and Norris started entering competitions together. Mary also spent Christmas at 3 Coronation Street, where Norris lodged with Emily Bishop. In 2009, Mary invited Norris to go on a cruise with Mary and her mother, but was devastated when he declined. She disappeared for a short time, but upon her return, immediately went to Norris to tell him that her mother had moved into a home, and that Mary was free to go travelling with Norris in a motor home they had won. She was delighted when Norris agreed to go.
On 3rd April, Mary told Norris that her mother had died, but that she wasn't upset as she had been very domineering. Mary was now keen to travel the world in the motor home, but Norris's ambitions were far more conservative. Mary was patient with Norris when he delayed their departure to attend to his friend Rita Sullivan, who was going through a crisis, but eventually decided he needed encouragement and on 13th May tried to seduce him in the motor home. An embarrassed Norris fled and later told Mary that he didn't want to go with her. Mary embarked on her journey alone, promising to keep in touch with Norris.
In January 2010, Mary saw a photograph of Norris in a magazine after he won a competition he entered with Freda Burgess. Mary saw red and went to see Norris but was relieved to find out that Freda was just a friend. Mary rekindled her friendship with Norris and started occasionally helping out at his newsagent The Kabin.
On 26th March, Mary and Norris won a holiday in the Bronte Country, and Norris agreed to go with Mary when Rita offered to look after The Kabin. When they arrived at their house, Mary began to enjoy herself, spending most of the days entering competitions, but Norris rebuffed her attempts to get cosy and soon made plans to spend time away from the cottage and phoned Rita to complain about Mary. To keep Norris under control, Mary cut the phone lines and told Norris the motor home wouldn't start, so they couldn't go anywhere. Later, Mary found Norris had run off and went looking for him in the motor home. He sprained his ankle while running away, and was forced to return so that Mary could take care of him. Upon their return, Mary suggested that they get married, and was relieved when Norris didn't immediately say no. The next day, Norris overheard Mary talking to her mother and phoned the police, as he was convinced that Mary was mad and that Mary was going to kill him like she had killed her mother. The police arrived and brought them both to the police station, but Mary was released without charge as there was no evidence of foul play at the cottage, and Mary's mother turned out to be still alive, as Mary confessed to Norris after visiting him at The Kabin. Norris refused to listen to Mary and rejected her attempts to speak to him thereafter, having been deeply disturbed by his ordeal at the cottage.
In the weeks following, Mary persisted with her attempts to remain part of Norris' life, and went along to Weatherfield Crown Court to watch the trial of Gail McIntyre for the murder of her late-husband Joe, which Norris was also attending. Mary made a bet with Norris that Gail would get sent down, but lost the bet as Gail was found "not guilty".
2011-2016: A helping hand
After the death of Sunita Alahan in April 2013, Mary started to look after Aadi and Asha full-time and took care of the domestic duties at No.7; after widower Dev struggled to cope single-handed with the children and his business. In late-2014, she seemingly began to grow attracted to Dev, however, she was jealous of his close friendship with Julie Carp.
2016-: Reunion with Jude
In late 2016 Mary was reminded of Jude when she saw how close Ken Barlow had become to his family, following his reconciliation with his sons Peter Barlow and Daniel Osbourne, and grandson Adam Barlow. Norris noticed that Mary was upset, and she confessed to him about how she had given birth to a baby boy back in the 1980s following her being raped, and was forced to give him up in secret. Norris began to help Mary track her son down, and with the help of Gemma Winter was able to use social media to look for Jude. On Christmas Day, Jude turned up at Norris' doorstep, which finally reunited mother and son.
Jude revealed that he was a marine biologist and living in South Africa with his wife Angie. His adoptive parents had passed away sometime before, and he offered Mary the chance to move with him to South Africa and start a new life, which she accepted. Although Norris was upset that yet another close friend of his was leaving (as long-term friend Emily Bishop had left at the beginning of the year), he respected Mary's wishes. Mary seemingly left with Jude to go the airport, however she had a change of heart and returned to Norris's home and decided to stay in Weatherfield. Although she didn't leave with Jude, the pair kept in contact through video calls.
As of February 2014, Mary's mother was still alive, but as she had such a dominating and negative impact on Mary's life, she treats her as her past.
Following the murder of Sunita Alahan in April 2013, at the hands of Karl Munro, Mary stepped in to offer her services to the grieving Dev, who was struggling to raise his two children, Aadi and Asha Alahan alone.
Hobbies and interests
Mary is a keen jam-maker, it's produced from her mother's recipe.
Mary was brought in for a specific plot as part of a storyline in which Norris Cole (played by Malcolm Hebden) developed an obsession with competitions. The character debuted in November 2008 and appeared up until May 2009. In September that year, it was revealed that Mary would return to the show and the character made a return in January 2010, which would be on a permanent basis.
Mary's date of birth appears to have been retconned. Her year of birth was listed as 1974 on the official ITV website in 2010 but events in 2016 revealed that she gave birth at the age of 14 in 1984 which would place her birthdate somewhere from 1969 to 1970. In a 2017 episode she was stated to be 46 years old, confirming that she was born in 1970.
Mary is usually used as a comedic purposes in episodes and for her strange and erratic behaviour. Although on occasions she can be used as a tragic character, especially as it is implied that she had been bullied in the past and even the subject of mockery in some stories. In 2013, she was briefly harassed by Faye Butler and her evil friend Grace Piper, and in 2014 was made fun of by Kylie Platt for her appearance.
First and last lines
"Hello." (First line)
List of addresses
|Unknown||Unknown to 11th May 2009|
|Motorhome||11th May 2009 to 8th May 2015|
|7 Coronation Street||8th May 2015 to 30th August 2019|
|11 Coronation Street||4th September 2019 to present|
|Cover||The Kabin||2008 to unknown|
|Nanny||Alahan family||22nd April 2013 to 30th August 2019|
|Assistant florist||Preston's Petals||21st September 2016 to present|