First married to Nick Horrocks, Natalie was living alone by the time she took over their son Tony's share of the Coronation Street Garage in 1997. Natalie made herself deeply unpopular in the area by having an affair with her partner Kevin Webster, breaking up his marriage to Sally, but made inroads with the neighbours when she became a barmaid at the Rovers.
In 1998, Natalie married Des Barnes. Just four weeks after the wedding, Des was fatally injured while defending Tony from drug dealers, leaving Natalie devastated. Happier times followed as she bought the Rovers and had a relationship with Vinny Sorrell, the Rovers' potman. When Vinny ran off with Natalie's sister Debs Brownlow, Natalie sold up and left Weatherfield, sending word the following year that she'd given birth to Laura, her baby with Vinny.
1997-1998: Affair with Kevin Webster
Natalie first visited Coronation Street in February 1997 after her son Tony, co-owner of the Coronation Street Garage, suffered a breakdown due to hitting and killing Joyce Smedley with his car. She took over the reins of the garage, implementing a new billing system computer program and acting as part owner and manager in her son's absence. There she began a relationship with the very married, and much younger Kevin Webster. She seduced him and convinced him that she wanted nothing other than an affair - no strings attached. Kevin, lonely at home as his wife Sally was in Scarborough nursing her ill mother Elsie, decided to take a chance. They began an affair.
After a period of time, Natalie decided that she wanted Kevin full-time - she had fallen in love. She convinced him that he was unhappy in his marriage and that he should leave and move in with her. He did. It was a bumpy ride and Natalie became the most hated woman in the street. Sally demanded money to raise his girls and this put a strain on Natalie and Kevin's relationship. At Christmas of the same year, Kevin having come to his senses and missing his family, left Natalie and returned to Sally and his children. Natalie was devastated at the loss.
After finding herself unwanted at the garage, and feeling that it didn't warrant her time, Natalie suddenly showed up in the Rovers Return working behind the bar. The regulars were dismayed with this particular barmaid and some refused to drink there. With time, the regulars softened and Natalie became less offensive and people started to like her off-the-cuff manner.
1998: Relationship with Des Barnes
Natalie became friendly with Des Barnes while he was dating Samantha Failsworth, another barmaid at the Rovers. When the relationship floundered, Natalie was there as a friend for Des. Samantha began to stalk Natalie and was jealous of her friendship with Des. When Samantha kidnapped Natalie's cat, the relationship between Des and Natalie grew. She struggled for months to fight her attraction to him but in the end, they found themselves together. This was the relationship they had both longed for. Steady and secure, as far as either of them could tell, it was a perfect match.
Tony's return to the Street in the autumn of 1998 triggered a watershed of events that soon left Natalie devastated. In early October, Des proposed to Natalie and she accepted. The wedding was the event of the Street and all attended. The marquee was decorated by Hayley Patterson, the best man was Les Battersby, the champagne flowed. It was a union toasted by all except, naturally, Kevin and Sally.
Unknown to all except Des, Tony had arrived on the scene with some excess baggage. He was a drug dealer and he was in big financial trouble. He needed money and his mother was quick to open her wallet and give him what she had although she never knew what it was for. It wasn't enough. While at home one night Tony was accosted by three thugs, looking for the drug money that he owed them. Des happened on the scene as they were beating up Tony and, while trying to come to Tony's aid, he took a hit to the head, which sent him crashing to the coffee table. Married less than a month, Des died in hospital of a heart attack.
1998-2000: Managing the Rovers
Bereft and looking for a new start, Natalie sought out the familiar comfort of the Rovers. Finding that it was for sale, Natalie bought the Rovers from Alec Gilroy on 30th December 1998. After shifting the Duckworths from their lodgings upstairs, Natalie moved in and redecorated. She was finally home.
After taking over the Rovers, Natalie started a relationship with Ian Bentley, aware that he had a fiancée but not knowing that he was about to marry Rita Sullivan's former foster daughter, Sharon Gaskell. Rovers barmaid Betty Williams spied Natalie and Ian together, and told Rita, who confronted Natalie. Natalie soon finished with Ian (and Sharon left him at the altar); however after this Natalie was not well liked by Sharon.
After the break-up of her marriage to Nick Tilsley, as resident barmaid, Leanne Battersby moved into the Rovers with Natalie. The Rovers was robbed on New Year's Day 2000, after Leanne fell into debt with Jez Quigley over her addiction to cocaine. The Rovers robbery left Leanne hospitalised, and after she confessed, Natalie agreed to support her and sought help for her with a drug counsellor.
In March 2000, Natalie suffered a terrible ordeal when she discovered that her son Tony had been found dead and buried on the new development of Victoria Street. Tony's body had been found by Natalie's on and off lover Vinny Sorrell after falling through a hole. Vinny had previously worked alongside Natalie in the Rovers, but when both decided that working together was bad for their relationship he took a job as a labourer. Natalie suffered a breakdown, confused over her feelings over Tony's death, as she had hated him over his role in Des' death.
Colin Barnes turned up at Tony's funeral and caused a scene, which led to the police questioning him. To avoid arrest he gave his alibi that on the night of Tony's death he and Natalie had slept together. Natalie felt ashamed especially as it cracked open her relationship with Vinny Sorrell.
Natalie was determined to find out more about the murder of her son Tony, and put up a £10,000 award for information regarding Tony's death. Steve McDonald came forward and told her that Jez had threatened him over using Steve's mini cab firm for supplying drugs, and when Steve stood up to him Jez told him that he would have to face the fate that had befallen Tony. Natalie had Jez arrested, but he was found not guilty in court after Steve's motives as a witness were questioned.
On his release Jez told Steve that he caused Tony's death. Leanne also was threatened by Jez especially when he made it clear he wanted her as his girlfriend, and it wasn't long before Leanne fled the country. She went to Amsterdam to meet up with Mark Redman, while Natalie stood back and watched Jez ruin more lives. Jez's reign of terror came to an end after Jim McDonald attacked Jez, in retaliation for Jez's nearly killing his son Steve. Jez later died in hospital due to a ruptured spleen and Jim was charged with manslaughter.
Natalie started to get her life back together, knowing that she was pregnant by Vinny, but she faced another blow when she discovered that Vinny was having an affair with her sister, Debs, who had recently moved to Weatherfield after working as a hairdresser on cruise ships for many years. Natalie decided that what Debs and Vinny did was unforgivable and before giving Debs a notice of eviction from No. 6, she washed her hands of both of them; they both left Weatherfield for Southampton, with Vinny hoping for a job alongside his newfound love Debs on a cruise ship, unaware that Natalie was pregnant.
Natalie wanted the baby but decided that she didn't want to bring her child up in a pub and in Weatherfield. She decided to sell the Rovers for a new life with her cousin Helen in the Cotswolds, but there was some protesting from the residents when Natalie decided to sell to the Boozy Chain, who had intentions on calling the place "The Boozy Newt". After some negotiation, businessmen Duggie Ferguson, Fred Elliott and Mike Baldwin agreed to buy the pub and save it from its fate with the Boozy Chain.
First and last lines
"Is your husband in?" (First line, to Sally Webster)
"Okay, driver." (Final line)