Eccentric, pompous and vain, Reg had an eye for the ladies but his ostentatious personality was enough to put off any sane woman. Nevertheless, two women married him. First was the formidable Veronica, who left Reg to live with a "real man" in New Zealand in 1991. In 1993, Reg was reunited with Maureen, the love of his life, and they were married a year later. They lived at 7 Nightingale Street with Maureen's cantankerous mother Maud Grimes, who hated Reg.
Climbing up the Bettabuy career ladder, Reg became manager of the Weatherfield branch in 1989, with Curly Watts being appointed assistant manager that same year. Reg considered himself a mentor to Curly, though Curly like most people treated him as a figure of fun. He managed to ascend to area manager before quitting the firm in 1994. After this he bought the Corner Shop, which ended up being run by Maureen when Reg got bored behind the counter and joined Firman's.
In 1995, Reg took the position of Chief Executive for Distribution in Lowestoft. While separated from Maureen, he ran off with wages clerk Yvonne Bannister. They had a daughter together, born in 1996. Sighted running a cash-and-carry Calais in 1999, he was last seen hosting a medieval-themed weekend at Tatlock Towers in 2010.
1942-1993: Conquering the retail market
Reg began working at Weatherfield supermarket, Thomas, Ellis & Goodwin's in 1972, they were later amalgamated with the Bettabuy firm and he rose to the position of branch manager, he first crossed paths with the residents of Coronation Street when Curly Watts was made his trainee assistant manager. Reg took something of a dislike to Vera Duckworth when she began working at the store and was quick to use a staff assessment by Curly as an excuse to make her redundant. He was forced to change his mind when Curly found out he was having an affair with store detective Renee Dodds. He had a similarly awkward relationship with Ivy Brennan when she also started work at the store, coming close to firing her when she developed a drink problem, with Curly again having to intervene and plead her case.
Reg's philandering caught up with him when Curly found him sleeping in the Bettabuy store room after his wife Veronica had thrown him out. Reg managed to get over that difficulty and had the first round of what would be an occasional rivalry with Coronation Street Corner Shop owner Alf Roberts when Reg arranged a private bus to take customers to Bettabuy.
He began romancing Rita Fairclough after they met a tea dance and rigged a supermarket sweep event at the store so she could win. An uncomfortable Rita donated all her winnings to charity and ended their friendship, but Reg still faced an enquiry conducted by his long-term nemesis, area manager Brendan Scott. Brendan was frustrated to find no evidence of wrongdoing but Reg was less successful in his personal life than in his professional, as his wife Veronica used the incident to finally divorce him.
As a result, in September 1991 Reg moved into the flat at 12 Coronation Street. He hired Curly's housemate Angie Freeman to design a Bettabuy float for the Weatherfield carnival but afterwards he refused to pay her fee. Curly ended up authorising the payment himself and Reg offered to help him out during an internal investigation, only for his influence to be lost when the investigator was Brendan Scott, who denied Curly a promotion as punishment.
Reg made various attempts to romance the local ladies and was jealous of Rita's engagement to Ted Sullivan, disbelieving claims that Ted was terminally ill and sneering at him in the Rovers. He attempted to curry favour with Bet Gilroy by offering his services as quizmaster of what was meant to be a regular run of pub quizzes. Instead, he was largely responsible for it degenerating into an argument when he accepted an answer not given by the team captain, and Bet told him his services were no longer required.
When Vanessa Morgan started working at Bettabuy, Reg treated her with the same contempt as the rest of the staff. Curly found out that she was actually the daughter of company chairman Lord Walter Morgan but kept quiet after Reg kept hiding manager's jobs from him to keep him as his assistant. Reg was horrified when he found out and quickly started giving Vanessa the easy jobs, but ironically Walter praised him for being the first manager not to show her preferential treatment.
1993-1995: Marriage to Maureen
Reg was annoyed to find Curly had given a store assistant's job to someone his age rather than the young thing he was hoping for, but his annoyance turned to delight when she turned out to be his old flame Maureen Grimes, now known as Maureen Naylor, having been married and divorced. The fact that she was still living with her mother Maud, who he blamed for their breaking up the first time, dampened his enthusiasm slightly, while Maud was equally unimpressed to be reunited with Reg. Reg's romancing of Maureen caused him to neglect his work: He was out on a long lunch with her when Andy McDonald was injured in an armed robbery. His first attempt to seduce her also ended in disaster: Derek Wilton was fitting a new light fixture in The Kabin at the time and managed to drill through the ceiling and puncture Reg's waterbed.
Nevertheless, Reg and Maureen were still engaged and Reg made plans to take voluntary redundancy at Bettabuy and use the money to buy the Corner Shop from Alf. Brendan gazumped him, taking the redundancy and buying the shop himself, but Reg had the last laugh when he was promoted into Brendan's old job as area manager while Brendan died of a heart attack after only a few weeks on the job. Curly took over as manager of the Bettabuy store, and almost immediately asked Reg to help get rid of his new assistant Elaine Fenwick. Reg arranged a manager's job for Elaine elsewhere and was frustrated when Curly, having changed his opinion of Elaine, undermined him by cancelling the appointment.
Reg made another attempt to buy the Corner Shop by wining and dining Brendan's widow Debi, only for Maureen to accuse him of cheating on her and end the engagement. They soon reconciled but, suspecting she was keeping something from him, Reg told her he'd turned to another woman for comfort in her absence. He was horrified when Maureen responded by confessing to sleeping with Curly during their separation, causing further distance between the two men. With the engagement back on, Reg attempted to save Maureen from redundancy by threatening to resign, only to be made redundant as well. He finally managed to get his hands on the Corner Shop, buying it from Alf, who had bought it back at auction the previous year. He arranged for Ken Barlow, who had occupied the shop's flat, to move into his old flat across the street and used the corner shop flat for storage.
Reg treated his 1994 wedding as a business opportunity, inviting Eric Firman of Firman's Freezers to be his best man and having other potential associates as guests. None of his supposed friends turned up for his stag night, but Curly came along and shared a quiet drink with him, restoring their friendship. Reg's attempt to offload Maud onto Maureen's sister Peggy and her husband Clive came to nothing and he was resigned to sharing the house with her and Maureen.
1995-2010: Moving on from Weatherfield
Reg soon tired of running the Corner Shop so left it to Maureen and Maud while he took a manager's job with Firman's Freezers. With Curly having lost his job at Soopascoopa following the breakdown of his engagement to Raquel Wolstenhulme, Reg re-employed him as his assistant, despite it being something of a backwards step. He started wearing a wig but it cost him when he was picked out in a police line-up because of his resemblance to a serial flasher. He was cleared when Phyllis Pearce caught the real culprit and soon after left the area after being offered a promotion in Lowestoft.
Reg promised Maureen their marriage would survive the separation but in April 1996 he suddenly disappeared and was revealed to have run off with the wages clerk, Yvonne Bannister, who he had got pregnant. Maureen quickly granted him a divorce and Yvonne gave birth to his daughter in December. In early 1997, after Curly had nearly gone travelling, Eric mentioned that he had considered bringing Reg back to Weatherfield to run the store.
By November 1999, Reg was running a cash and carry business in Calais and up to his old tricks, carrying on an affair with one of his workers. When he ended up fleeing from her jealous husband, he ironically ended up trapped in the van of current Weatherfield resident Vikram Desai, who refused to let him out until he got to Brighton. There, Reg was reunited with Bet and Vicky McDonald and was soon charmed into helping Bet sell a yacht by impersonating her late boyfriend Bruce.
By 2010 Reg had fallen out of his luck and began to work for his former protege Curly at his company. In November 2010 he helped Curly host a medieval-themed weekend at Tatlock Towers, which happened to be attended by Coronation Street residents Jason Grimshaw, Rosie Webster, Norris Cole and Mary Taylor. Wanting rid of Mary, Norris tricked Reg into proposing to her, which Reg accepted and lead to him to quit his job with Curly after believing Mary was into money. But Norris had a change of heart and tried to convince Mary not to marry him, which results in an argument between the two men and leading to Mary to suggest both take part in a tournament. Reg won but is put off to discover Mary also has no money, but she let him off the hook and told Reg he doesn't have to marry her. Following the events at Tatlock Towers, a lonely Reg was walking by a roadside until approached by Curly in a limo who offered him his old job back. A delighted Reg accepted the offer, and the two men drove off together.
The following month Reg sent Mary a Christmas Card, although the pair had no further contact after this.
Reg was officious, pompous and extremely full of himself. He was quick to attempt to charm any woman he encountered, and was so sure of his charms that he kissed Rita on his wedding day, convinced she was heartbroken that he was no longer available. He was willing to play politics in order to keep his job, to the point of ignoring Eric's nephew Leo sexually harassing staff for fear of repercussions if Eric took Leo's side.
Reg did show genuine affection for Maureen, speaking fondly of their history together and being willing to make sacrifices in order to win her back. He even showed rare fondness for Maud on occasion despite their barbed relationship, taking the news that Maureen was the result of a wartime liaison with an American serviceman in his stride and seeing it as a more human side to Maud. Ultimately however, it seemed to be a case of out of sight, out of mind for him, as his and Maureen's marriage did not survive their living apart long.
Curly was the closest thing Reg had to a friend; Reg was fond of him but always viewed him as an underling. He was willing to support Curly as manager of Weatherfield Bettabuy only when he had secured a more senior position for himself, prior to which he had always blocked his advancement. Curly's return to being Reg's assistant grated on him, while Reg saw it as the natural order.
After leaving Coronation Street in 1995, Ken Morley reprised the role of Reg Holdsworth on several occasions for spin-offs and direct-to-video/DVD projects. In 1999 he appeared in four of the six episodes in the spin-off Coronation Street - After Hours. That same year, he appeared in the Emmerdale video spin-off Don't Look Now! The Dingles in Venice in which Reg served as a hotel attendant in Italy. In 2010 he reprised the role of Reg for the third time on the direct-to-DVD special Coronation Street: A Knight's Tale alongside his former co-star Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts). Although not playing Reg, he appeared in a Coronation Street special of Come Dine with Me along with former actors as part of the show's 50th anniversary celebrations.
First and last lines
"Sorry to keep you waiting Mr Watts, the whole place seems to go out of sync when one or two of the girls don't put in. I've got my own system for emergencies, the best laid plans of mice and supermarket managers they say. Right, now to business, your badge of office. I now proclaim you Mr Norman Watts, assistant manager trainee." (First line)
"Well here's to us anyway. To the future." (Final line, to wife Maureen)
List of addresses
|Hillside Road||until April 1990|
|15a Coronation Street||April 1990 to July 1990|
|Hillside Road||July 1990 to February 1991|
|12 Coronation Street||September 1991 to January 1994|
|7 Nightingale Street||January to February 1994|
|12 Coronation Street||February to March 1994|
|7 Nightingale Street||March 1994 to 24th November 1995|
|Lowestoft||November 1995 to unknown|
|Calais||unknown to November 1999|