Richard Hillman was a financial advisor and businessman who had been married twice before arriving in Coronation Street. In June 2001 he arrived in Weatherfield for Alma Halliwell's funeral, claiming to be her cousin. He began a relationship with Gail Platt.
Richard went into property development with Duggie Ferguson, but the partnership was troubled. Richard left Duggie for dead after he fell from a flight of stairs in a propery they were selling, choosing to rob Duggie of his money rather than help him. When Richard was due to marry Gail later in the summer, his ex-wife Patricia came back threatening to tell everyone about what Richard was really like and ruin his business, so Richard killed her with a shovel and buried her body in the foundations for his new flats.
Richard began to have financial troubles, and tried to kill his mother-in-law Audrey Roberts after finding out she was wealthy. He made her look like she was crazy and set her house on fire, making it look as if she had caused it. His attempts to kill her proved unsuccessful, so in January 2003 he decided to murder Emily Bishop instead, as he would inherit her house and money. He beat Emily over the head with a crowbar, but was interrupted by Maxine Peacock, so Richard killed her too. Emily survived the assault but was unaware that Richard was responsible. Richard confessed his crimes to Gail after she had grown increasingly suspicious of his actions, then fled the Street. He returned two weeks later, and tried to kill his family by tying them up in the car in the garage and gassing them. He then drove the car into the canal; they were all pulled out alive, but he drowned.
1951-2001: Early years and arrival on Coronation Street
Richard was a financial advisor and had two previous marriges before arriving on Coronation Street. 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. When Richard's mother died he later married Patricia. Like Marion, she wanted children but Richard later discovered he couldn't have any children. Believing he made it up Patricia divorced him. In 2001 he turned up at Alma Halliwell's funeral, claiming to be her cousin. Richard started dating Gail Platt after first becoming friends with her. It wasn't long until he had moved in and started winning over her children 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, building an estate for new homes. One night Richard confronted Duggie in one of the houses and they had a disagreement about Duggie's poor workmanship. When Duggie leaned on one of the bannisters it gave way. Duggie fell and was seriously injured. Although he initially intended to help him, Richard realised that this was an ideal opportunity to rid himself of his unwanted business partner. Richard took the keys and headed for Duggie's where he emptied his safe. When Richard returned to the house he was shocked to find Duggie was missing. Richard later found Duggie dead. From there he went to meet Gail at the pub and left a message to Duggie stating he would meet him the next day, thus covering up that he had anything to do with the death.
2002-2003: Killer Hillman
Richard was due to marry Gail in the summer of 2002, but his ex-wife Patricia turned up. She demanded money as she owned some of their business. 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 a building site where new flats where to be built. Richard buried the body in cement. With Patricia out of the way, he married Gail and with her and the kids and went away on a holiday to Florida.
Richard discovered that his mother-in-law Audrey Roberts was worth a fortune when she died. He then tried to convince everyone that Audrey was going insane as well as trying to confuse her, a plan which worked so well even Audrey began to believe she was losing her mind. However Audrey soon found that one of her 'mistakes' wasn't one when she found paperwork proving she had been correct in regards to an incident at a dry cleaners. One night Richard set the house on fire when Audrey was asleep. She was saved with the help of Steve McDonald and Archie Shuttleworth. She worked out that it must be Richard behind the incident and tried to persuade Gail of this. However her frantic attempts to prove this to Gail only resulted in her becoming convinced Audrey was having mental problems and soon refused to speak to her. With the police also dismissive of Audrey's claims, she soon found her only allies against Richard were Norris and Archie.
Richard had previously persuaded Emily Bishop to sign a contract in which he would give her a sum of money for her house, and she would be allowed to live there until her death, upon which the deed to the house would revert to him. Richard started to have serious money problems when some apartments he owned weren't selling due to the planned construction of a bail hostel near by, and he knew he had to get some cash fast. When he heard that Emily would be babysitting for the Peacocks as there was a party at the Rovers, he decided to murder Emily. He also decided to kill two birds with one stone, and stage it as a robbery in order to take revenge on Sarah Platt's troublesome boyfriend Aidan Critchley for abandoning her after a car accident. First, Richard drugged Aidan with some tranquilizers that had been prescribed for Audrey then, after he had passed out, stole his jacket and (after making sure he was seen wearing it from the back) broke into the Peacock's 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 a crowbar. Emily amazingly survived the attack, however the other aspect of Richard's plan worked; no-one suspected him of having any involvement and Aiden was quickly arrested with almost everyone believing he was behind Maxine's murder during a bungled robbery.
Richard was later devastated when he found out one of his elderly clients had died a week earlier, therefore he had already owned a house he could sell. Also, the plans for the bail hostel had fallen through and as a result the apartments he owned had begun to sell. Richard was now filled with guilt, as he realised that he hadn't needed to attempt to murder Emily, or kill Maxine in the process.
Audrey, upon seeing Richard's reaction at the funeral, realised he was responsible for Maxine's death and publicly accused him there and then. However no-one believed her, and Gail severed all ties with her. Ken Barlow, having seen Aidan Critchley under the effects of the tranquilizers on the night of the murder, knew he wasn't responsible but the rest of the Street turned against him, beliving him to be defending a murderer.
When Richard murdered his ex-wife Patricia months earlier, a bracelet that slipped off her arm 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 found it, not Richard. She began to get suspicious of Richard when she learned he'd lied about several matters connected to the disappearance of Patricia. Soon police tests confirmed that Aidan had been drugged on the night of the murder with the same tranquilizers that Audrey had been prescribed. Gail recalled seeing him at the medicine cabinet containing the tranquilizers, and the fact that he had disappeared from the party for a while and started to piece everything together. That night, Gail 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 Sarah, David and Bethany, binding and gagging them in a 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 in 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 door to the garage open but Richard sped off into the night. Tommy Harris, Martin Platt and Kevin gave chase. Richard then drove into the canal. Gail and the children were saved.
Richard had managed to escape from the car, but had drowned and his body was later identified by Gail.
List of victims
Richard Hillman has had numourous victims during his Reign of Terror on the street, who he either attempted to kill or ended up killing.
- Duggie Ferguson: Although Richard technically didn't kill Duggie, he did leave him for dead and robbed him after he fell down a flight of stairs (due to Duggie's poor work on the banister). This later caused his death.
- Patricia Hillman: Richard's ex-wife, hit her over the head with a shovel and buried her body under his foundations of flats after she threatened to expose what he really was like. Her body wasnt uncovered after his confession and later death in 2003.
- Audrey Roberts: Richard attempted to kill Audrey by burning down her house, but was saved with the interuption of Steve McDonald who was passing by. Audrey knew Richard had something to do with it, but he managed to make her look mad over the course of weeks leading up to the incident.
- Emily Bishop: Richard's company bought Emily's house, and she would remain there until she died and his company would get it. When needing some quick cash, he decided to bump Emily off. On Christmas 2002, he went round to her house to keep her company, and decided to smother her with a pillow, but decided not to for the moment. He waited until after the New Year when Emily was babysitting, and broke in to hit her over the head to look like an attempted burglary, and to also frame Sarah's boyfriend Aiden for putting her in hospital after a car crash. After attacking Emily however, Maxine Peacock interupted when checking on her son Josh, and was beaten to death. Emily survived, and coicidently, another client of Richard's died and got their home, meaning he didn't have to attempt to kill Emily, or murder Maxine.
- Maxine Peacock: Beaten to death for walking in on Richard hitting Emily with a crowbar.
- His wife Gail Platt, step-children Sarah Louise, David and step-granddaughter Bethany: In February 2003, Richard confessed to his crimes to Gail. He later fled and his crimes shocked neighbours, whom some believed that Gail was involved. Two weeks later, Richard returned and kidnapped his family and gagged and bound them in the car, planning to gas all of them in the garage. But he was interupted by Gail's neighbours, and instead tried to kill them after driving in the canal, but only ended up killing himself.
- 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 an apparent relation to Richard called 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 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'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. However, it could be geniune that he was related, as he would have ran a high risk of running into another relative of Alma (sister, a cousin, etc) so would have been exposed as a fake.
- 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.
"Hello" (First Line to Janice Battersby)
"You should have stayed at the party, Maxine" (to Maxine Peacock before killing her).
"This is it, I love you!" (Final line before driving into the canal).