Richard "Charles" Hillman was a financial adviser and businessman who had been married twice prior to arriving in Weatherfield. In June 2001, he turned up at Alma Halliwell's funeral - claiming to be her cousin - whereupon he met her friend Gail Platt. The two quickly hit it off and began a romantic relationship.
Richard went into business with fellow entrepreneur Duggie Ferguson to develop the The Ridings into luxury flats. The partnership soon soured, however, when Richard discovered that Duggie had been cutting corners to expand his financial business and closed the deal in response. This he did when the pair ended up in an argument, which culminated tragically after Duggie fell through some banisters in the house they were working at together - injuring himself in the process. Though it was an accident, Richard took the opportunity to rid himself of Duggie and left him to die. Richard and Gail made plans to marry, but his ex-wife Patricia surprisingly turned up to demand her share of their property company: Kellett Holdings. When Patrica threatened to report him to the police as he kept stalling for time, Richard killed his ex-wife by hitting her with a spade. He subsequently buried her body in the foundations of his new flats and appeared to have got away with the crime.
Problems with the Ridings left Richard on the verge of bankruptcy and desperate for money. After learning that Gail's mother Audrey Roberts was wealthy, he plotted to kill her in order to inherit her money. Richard did so by setting her house on fire, but the plan failed when she was rescued by his business partner Steve McDonald and her friend Archie Shuttleworth. By then, Richard has already manipulated Audrey and her relatives into believing that she was going insane. This was impacted when Audrey learned what Richard did, but few in Weatherfield believed her other than Archie and their friend Norris Cole - who himself had grown suspicious of Richard since he first saw him on the street. Richard later targeted Norris' roommate Emily Bishop, an elderly resident whom he had signed up to an equity release scheme which would see him inherit her house upon her death. While Emily was babysitting Joshua Peacock on behalf of his father Ashley, the local pub landlord, Richard snuck in and struck her on the head with a crowbar. However, at that moment, Joshua's mother Maxine unexpectedly returned home and stumbled upon Richard - who promptly attacked her. Emily would survive the attack, but Maxine died and Ashley was left devastated.
In the aftermath of the incident, Richard framed his stepdaughter Sarah's troublesome boyfriend Aidan Critchley for Emily's attack and Maxine's murder. Though this was successful, Richard soon discovered that he had recently inherited enough money to save his business - meaning it had been unnecessary to harm either woman, which left him increasingly guilt-ridden. He and Gail nevertheless made plans to start a new life away from Weatherfield and bought a house. But Gail had grown increasingly suspicious of Richard's behaviour and his involvement in recent events. In February 2003, she confronted him and he finally confessed his crimes. Calling him "Norman Bates with a briefcase", Gail made it clear the marriage was over - so Richard fled. His crimes now out in the open, a large manhunt ensued. Richard secretly returned to Weatherfield a few weeks later with a last-ditch attempt to stay beside Gail and her children forever; by killing them and himself in a suicide impact. After kidnapping Gail and Sarah, along with Gail's David and Sarah's daughter Bethany, Richard tried to kill them in the garage until Audrey and Gail's ex-husband Martin found out what he was doing. Richard then fled the street with his step-family in the car, and Martin perused him with his friend Kevin Webster and their co-worker Tommy Harris. As his step-family tried to escape, Richard proclaimed his love to Gail before driving the car into the Weatherfield Canal. Gail and the children were all pulled to safety, but Richard drowned and his body was later identified by Gail and Audrey - thus signalling the end of the troubles he inflicted onto his step-family and Weatherfield.
At the end of March 2003, Richard was given a funeral and Gail attended alone to ensure that her killer husband was put to rest for good. Though he was gone for good, Richard's crimes would impact Gail and her family for the rest of their lives.
1951-2001: Early years and arrival in Weatherfield
Richard was born on 20th December 1951 and grew up to work as a financial adviser. He had two previous marriages before arriving in Weatherfield. His first wife was Marion, who wanted to have children, but Richard had to attend to his sick mother. Marion divorced him, as she didn't want to take care of an old pensioner. Following his mother's death he married Patricia. Like Marion, she wanted children but Richard later discovered he was unable to have them. Believing he made up the story, Patricia also divorced him. In 2001, he turned up at Alma Halliwell's funeral, claiming to be her cousin. He befriended Gail Platt and they eventually began dating. Before long, he'd moved in with Gail and started winning over her children Sarah and David with expensive presents. Hillman's dealings were questioned by Norris Cole when he learned that elderly people had lost their life savings to Richard.
Richard went into business with Duggie Ferguson, converting The Ridings, an old house in Crimea Street, into luxury flats. However, the partnership soon ran into trouble when Richard realised Duggie and his men were cutting corners and also stripping the house of valuables. One night in February 2002, Richard confronted Duggie in one of the flats, angered by the poor workmanship that his partner had overseen. When Duggie leaned on one of the banisters it gave way and he fell through several floors down the stairwell. Duggie was badly injured, and although Richard initially intended to help him, he realised that this was an ideal opportunity to rid himself of his unwanted business partner. Leaving Duggie for dead, Richard took the keys from Duggie's pocket, visited his house and emptied his safe, including the money that Duggie had made from the sale of the Rovers. He then returned to the Ridings and put Duggie's key back in his pocket. To cover himself, Richard went to meet Gail at the pub and left a message on Duggie's phone arranging to meet him the next day. The following morning Richard visited the conversion site with Gail, and he was shocked to see Duggie was missing, though he had only crawled into the next room before succumbing to his injuries.
2002-2003: Debts and murder spree
Weatherfield's older residents began coming to Richard for financial advice. He persuaded Emily Bishop to sign up to an equity release scheme, whereby she would be given a sum of money for her house, but would be allowed to live in it until she died, at which point the property would belong to Richard. He also talked Jack and Vera Duckworth into letting him invest their £20,000 savings. Norris Cole grew suspicious of Richard when he caught him trying to administer some pills to Emily and accused him of trying to kill her for her house. Norris also urged the Duckworths and another prospective client, Rita Sullivan, not to trust him. Irked by Norris' interference, Richard forced him into his car and drove him to the Ridings, where he showed a terrified Norris around the flats and warned him to stay out of his affairs.
Richard was due to marry Gail in the summer of 2002, but his ex-wife Patricia turned up, demanding £25,000 for her share of their business, Kellett Holdings. When she threatened to tell the police and Gail about Richard's past crimes, Richard grabbed a shovel and smashed Patricia over the head, killing her instantly. She fell into a ditch at The Ridings where new flats were to be built, and her body was buried in the cement by Richard. Later, the police visited Richard to inform him that a body matching Patricia's description had been found. Richard identified it as Patricia, even though it wasn't her, and was convinced that he was now safe, as nobody would be looking for the real body. With the issue of Patricia out of the way, he married Gail and the whole family went on their honeymoon to Florida.
Richard discovered that Gail's mother Audrey Roberts was wealthy, and Gail would inherit a large sum of money if she died. He was also mad at her for leaving him out of the family photos, treating him like he wasn't part of the family. In the autumn, He set about trying to convince Audrey (and everyone else) that she was going insane by stealing her keys and leaving them in the door of the salon, altering the salon's appointments book, and leaving the radio on in her house. He also took one of her favourite dresses to the dry cleaners on Moxton Street, later slipping the receipt into her handbag. Audrey was frantic when she couldn't find the dress and at a loss to explain what she had done with it. Richard's plan appeared to be working and Audrey began questioning her sanity, but she worked out based on the date on the receipt that she could not have taken the dress to the dry cleaners that day.
One night, Richard set Audrey's house on fire while she was asleep, staging it to look like Audrey had left a pot on the stove. Much to his chagrin, she was saved with the help of Steve McDonald and Archie Shuttleworth. Audrey realised that Richard was behind the fire and that he was also responsible for her other recent supposed memory lapses, so he and Gail could inherit her money. However, her frantic attempts to prove this only further convinced Gail that Audrey was losing her mind. Audrey went to the police, telling them Richard had murdered his wife and had tried to murder her. The police were sceptical, but Richard was nevertheless called in for questioning. There was no meaningful evidence against him and Gail told the police he had been with her on the night of the fire, so he was released the same day. Shunned by her family, Audrey soon found her only allies against Richard were Norris and Archie.
Richard's financial problems worsened when he learned of plans to build a bail hostel near the Ridings, immediately lowering the value of the flats and his prospects of selling them. He once more turned his sights to Emily Bishop and her house, which he stood to inherit once she died. He heard that Emily would be babysitting for the Peacocks as there was a party at the Rovers. He also decided to kill two birds with one stone, and stage it as a robbery in order to take revenge on Gail's daughter Sarah Platt's troublesome boyfriend Aidan Critchley for abandoning her after a car accident. First, Richard drugged Aidan with some tranquillisers that had been prescribed for Audrey and after he had passed out, Richard stole his jacket and trainers, and (after making sure he was seen wearing it from the back and leaving footprints in the Peacocks garden) broke into the Peacocks' house and hit Emily hard over the head with a crowbar while she was watching TV. Unfortunately Maxine showed up, wanting to check on her son Joshua. After remarking "You should have stayed at the party Maxine", Richard beat her to death with the crowbar. Emily miraculously survived the attack, but had no recollection of it. The other aspect of Richard's plan worked; no-one suspected him of having any involvement and Aidan was quickly arrested with almost everyone believing he was behind Maxine's murder during a bungled robbery.
A few days later Richard learned that one of his elderly clients had died two weeks earlier, and he stood to receive £23,000 through the equity release scheme. Furthermore, the plans for the bail hostel had also fallen through and as a result the flats he owned began to sell. Richard was now guilt-ridden, as he realised that there had been no need for him to harm Emily or Maxine.
Richard was desperate to avoid Maxine's funeral, but could not get out of it. Richard almost cracked up during the service, and when Maxine's father broke down while reading a bible passage, Gail insisted that Richard took over the reading. Audrey noticed how tense Richard appeared and realised that he was responsible for Maxine's death and publicly accused him of murdering her. However no-one believed her, and Gail severed all ties with her mother. Ken Barlow, having seen Aidan Critchley under the effects of the tranquillisers on the night of the murder, knew he wasn't responsible but the rest of the Street turned against him, believing him to be defending a murderer.
2003: Richard's downfall
When Richard murdered his ex-wife Patricia months earlier, a bracelet that slipped off her wrist in the struggle was found by Steve McDonald. Richard later took it off him and gave it to Gail, saying it was a present for her. Gail overheard Steve in the pub talking about the bracelet and how he'd found it, not Richard. She began to get suspicious of Richard when she learned that he'd lied about several matters connected to the disappearance of Patricia. Police tests confirmed that Aidan had been drugged on the night of the murder with the same tranquillisers that Audrey had been prescribed, and therefore could not have killed Maxine. Gail recalled seeing Richard at the medicine cabinet containing the tablets on the night of the murder, and that he had disappeared from the party for a while and started to piece everything together. That night, she confronted him back at the house. Richard then confessed the murders and his plans. Shocked and disgusted, Gail called him Norman Bates with a briefcase, and Richard went on the run where he quickly became the most wanted man in the UK.
A couple of weeks later, Richard returned to the Street. He kidnapped Gail, Sarah, Gail's son David Platt and her granddaughter Bethany Platt, binding and gagging them in his car in the garage. Gail was shocked to find him waiting in her home. He told her that the children were safe, and that they could run away together. He tied Gail up and took her into the garage. When she saw her children tied up, she realised that Richard was going to kill himself and them as well. When he started up the car, Audrey came round to help with the tea but couldn't get inside. When she heard music coming from the garage, she realised Richard was back. Kevin Webster burst the garage door open, but Richard sped off into the night. Gail's ex-husband Martin Platt, along with Tommy Harris and Kevin Webster pursued them in another car. Richard then drove into the canal, and Gail and the children were saved by Tommy.
Richard managed to escape from the car, but drowned in the process, and his body was later identified by Gail and Audrey. He was later cremated by Archie Shuttleworth, with only Gail in attendance at his funeral in order to make sure that her killer husband was gone for good.
- In 2006, cards were sent to the Platt family, apparently sent from a deceased Richard. After months of card sending, the person behind it turned out to be no other than David Platt. Gail managed to trick him by stating to David that Richard's birthday was coming up in June, and when a card arrived, she told him that Richard's birthday was in December. However, she later dropped the matter as she blamed herself for bringing Richard into his life.
- According to Richard, he had met Alma's ex (and now deceased) husband Jim Sedgewick at some point in the 1970s.
- Actor Brian Capron who played Richard Hillman actually wanted his character to get killed off, as he wanted that rather than his character going to prison.
- Around 19.2 million viewers turned in when Richard confessed to his wife Gail about his crimes in February 2003.
- Brian Capron made a guest appearance in the Coronation Street spin-off DVD Coronation Street: A Knight's Tale in 2010, as a character named Dickie. The scenes were shared with Norris Cole, who swore to his friend Mary Taylor that he looked like Richard. Dickie also made remarks about his love for water and that he comes from a family of water lovers, an obvious nod to Richard himself.
- The Richard Hillman storyline was voted and featured in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Scariest Moments in 2003, ranking at 32nd place.
- Brian's portrayal as Richard helped him earn Best Actor, Best Exit and Villain of the Year at the British Soap Awards in 2003.
- It was never revealed if Richard was genuinely Alma Halliwell's cousin, or if he just used this as a front to attend her funeral and find more people to potentially con out of their money. Although it is likely he was authentic about his claim, as Richard didn't arrive on the street with the intent to con Alma's friends.
- Brian also played the role of Don Worthington, the social worker of Sharon Gaskell in the 1980s, who was sympathetic to her wishes to be fostered by Len and Rita Fairclough.
- During the plot in 2006 in which Gail received cards from "Hillman", several news outlets claimed Brian Capron was returning to the show as Richard Hillman, although this turned out to be false.
- David pushing Gail down the stairs in March 2008 took place on the fifth anniversary of Richard's death, although the incidents had no relation to each other and Richard wasn't mentioned during the episode.
First and last lines
"Hello" (First line, to Janice Battersby)
"This is it. I LOVE YOU!" (Final line, before driving his family into Weatherfield Canal)