When Stella was a teenager, she was in a relationship with Les Battersby and fell pregnant with his child. They had a baby girl who Les wanted to name Betty (after his mother) but Stella named her Leanne. Les and Stella were in a happy relationship until Les started drinking heavily and neglected Stella and Leanne. A lonely Stella left Les and her daughter because she couldn't cope. However, she later returned to get her baby back but Les and his mother refused to let her see Leanne, leaving Stella heartbroken.
Stella later began running pubs across the country. When she was running a pub in Warrington, she held lock-ins for the locals, and one night, whilst closing up, a customer threatened to tell her boss what she had been up too. Stella was raped by the customer after refusing to have sex with him. however, she chose not to go to the police because she felt it was her fault.
Stella was given a job as manager of the Rovers Return Inn by Steve McDonald after impressing him the most compared to the other applicants. Tracy Barlow however was none too pleased about this, as she thought Steve had promised her the vacancy instead. Stella started her first shift the next day, and her down to earth nature seemed to appeal to both the staff and the customers. Steve had also allowed Stella a room at the Rovers as part of her conditions of her taking on the job. He did not however expect first her partner Karl Munro and then her daughter Eva to move in also. Nevertheless, he agreed (although he didnt really have much choice). A week into her tenture, Steve headed away for a few days for his birthday leaving Stella soley in charge. Matters were made messy though when Steve's estranged wife, Becky, moved back into the Rovers and declared herself in charge. When Steve later returned, he found the pub completly trashed and a window smashed as a result of a brawl breaking out. Blaming Stella, he sacked her on the spot, but later calmed down and realising what his violatile spouse was like, asked Stella to stay on, which she agreed to do so.
Stella seemed to take quite a keen interest towards Leanne Barlow and jumped to her defence on several occasions be it a row between Leanne and Eva or even tackling a armed robber in the bookies. Because of this, Leanne's husband Peter started to become suspicious of Stella - even more so when he spotted a picture of his wife in the landlady's purse. When confronted, Stella revealed that she was Leanne's mother. With her 30th birthday approaching, Stella wanted to make amends to her secret daughter, and begged Peter not to say anything just yet. He agreed, but for Leanne's sake.
However, Eva began to think there might be something going on between her mother and the married bookie after catching the pair sharing a secret conversation in Roy's Rolls. That night, Leanne celebrated her 30th birthday with a surprise party held at the Rovers. Whilst the celebrations were taking place, in the pub's back room Eva demanded to know what exactly was going on between Stella and Peter. He in turn told Stella that the time had come for her to reveal all to Leanne - with the lady herself walking in at that precise moment.
When Leanne rejected her and refused to believe her reasons for her disappering act, Stella planned to leave Weatherfield. However, Peter managed to stop her by accusing her of abandoning Leanne for the second time. Over the next few weeks, Stella continued to make amends with both of her daughters. She supported Leanne when she suffered a miscarriage after falling down a set of stairs and took Eva out for some 'retail therapy'.
- Michelle Collins was added to the cast of Coronation Street as Stella to coincide with the departure of previous Rovers landlady Liz McDonald. Soon after, it was announced that Stella would be revealed as Leanne Barlow's biological mother.
- Soon after Stella's arrival, Collins was criticised for her broad northern accent and dialect, however producer Phil Collinson declared that he would not be toning it down as he preferred it.
"If you are going to ask her out, ask her out" (First Line to Tommy Duckworth, concerning Tina McIntyre)
"Come round the back" (When preparing to give someone help or advice)