Phyllis first visited Coronation Street in 1982 when her grandson Craig - her only living relative - came to live there, in the care of his paternal grandfather Chalkie Whitely. When Craig and Chalkie emigrated to Australia, despondent Phyllis gained employment as a washer-upper at the cafe to keep herself occupied.
In 1984, Phyllis set her cap at Percy Sugden and doggedly pursued him for many years, even though her feelings were clearly not reciprocated. Young at heart, Phyllis typically presented an upbeat attitude, enjoying the pleasures she had left in life rather than complain. She enjoyed her work and was disappointed to be forcibly retired from the cafe in 1989 by Alma Sedgewick. In 1991, she became housekeeper to Des and Steph Barnes, and could be counted on to give Des a talking-to when he messed up in his love life.
1921-1983: Gaining and losing a family
Born in 1921 to Joshua and Violet Grimes, Phyllis Grimes married Harold Pearce in 1946, having given birth to their daughter Margaret the year before. Both would predecease her with Margaret dying of cancer in 1977, having been told by her mother not to worry about a lump she had discovered.
By 1982 her only surviving family in the world was her grandson, Craig Whitely who was living with his paternal grandfather Chalkie. Phyllis tracked the pair down to their new home at 9 Coronation Street as she wanted Craig to come and live with her but Craig chose to continue living with Chalkie instead. Phyllis stayed in Weatherfield to be near Craig but was stunned when Bob Whitely, Craig's father returned in November to announce that he had left the Navy and was emigrating to Australia, taking Craig with him.
Following Craig's departure in December, Phyllis turned her attentions towards Chalkie - looking after him when he came down with flu. When Phyllis found out at the beginning of the year that her house on Omdurman Street was to be demolished, she hoped to move in with Chalkie but he turned her down as he hoped to sell the house as Bob needed the money. Fearing that if he did sell up he would move to Australia and she would never see Craig again, Phyllis did all that she could to prevent it from happening. Phyllis' plans were thwarted when Chalkie won £3,543.75 at the bookies and he finally sold No.9 before leaving for Australia at the beginning of August 1983.
1984-1998: Pursuit of Percy
In August 1984, Phyllis was employed by Gail Tilsley as a washer-upper at Jim's Cafe. Phyllis eventually got over Chalkie's departure and set her sights on Percy Sugden, the Community Centre's caretaker. Phyllis doggedly pursued Percy over the following years, chasing him at the Valentine's ball and looking after him while he was ill.
In September 1985, Phyllis was wooed by Sam Tindall, Percy's bowls rival, but she was not interested until she realised Percy was in the tournament too. She then offered herself up as a prize to the winner of the tournament. However, when Percy won he refused to take her on the Bowls trip to Southport with him - claiming there were no tickets left. Phyllis managed to obtain a ticket and join Percy, Sam and the bowls team on their trip and she and Percy ended up missing the coach back. When Emily Bishop invited Phyllis for Christmas dinner she accepted but asked that Emily keep it secret from Percy. Much to Emily's surprise, Phyllis and Percy appeared to get on well come Christmas Day.
In 1993, she won a poetry competition for a poem about her love for Percy, and in January 1996, her hopes rocketed as Maud Grimes read Phyllis's tea leaves and told her the man of her dreams was coming into her life. Sadly, Maud had mixed up the cups!
In July it was mentioned by Lily Dempsey and Percy that Phyllis had been taken ill and had moved to sheltered accommodation at Mayfield Court, where she was described by Percy as being one of the "walking wounded" and unable to do her own shopping. Later that month she was too ill to help to with the spring cleaning in the cafe and sent Lily in her place, when it was mentioned that her health was still bad and her pills were not working. Although Percy stated that Phyllis was not a well woman, she had expressed her support in the campaign against the renaming of Mayfield Court to Alfred Roberts Court.
Maud Grimes moved into Mayfield Court in October 1997, followed less than three weeks later by Percy, and although the pair discussed life at Mayfield extensively during this month, no mention was made of Phyllis still being there.
There was one other man in Phyllis' life - Des Barnes. Des took pity on Phyllis when she lost her cafe job and let her become housekeeper at 6 Coronation Street. Although Phyllis had seen plenty of Des's philandering, she had always been discreet, though at times she had to turn a blind eye or give Des a good talking-to.
First and last lines
"Found you 'ave I? In your rat'ole." (First line, to Chalkie Whitely)
"There's three wheelie bins under my window, and I've never turned my gas low." (Final line, to Maud Grimes)