In January 1972, Ken Barlow became deputy head of Bessie Street School and took an interest in the misbehaving lad after being rebuked by headmaster Wilfred Perkins for being hasty in giving Terry detention. Ken suspected Terry's behaviour could be due to problems at home and paid a visit to Rita Bates to discuss the issue with her. Rita too was concerned about Terry but felt that Ken was embarrassing the lad by seeing her, and so they kept in touch by letter only.
Terry played for Bessie Street's football team and practised along with the other boys under the tutelage of Ken, Albert Tatlock and Stan Ogden in preparation for a match against Regent's Road. Terry was then disappointed to be relegated to the bench, and disappeared part-way through the match, feeling left out of the proceedings. Despite his classmate Rodney Smith going down with injury and Bessie Street playing a man short due to Terry's absence, the team triumphed over Regent's Road.
Terry's disappearing act caused Ken to take an active interest in the boy again, with Ken going to see Rita to find out what the problem was. Terry was indifferent when Rita confronted him about it, and, angry that Ken was interfering in his home life, threatened Rita that he would tell Harry that she was interested in Ken. Ken also had trouble in school when Mr Perkins caught one of Terry's mates, Mark Hillkirk, writing "Barlamb fancies Terry Bate's Mam" on the blackboard. Perkins reprimanded Ken for getting too involved and told him to be more discrete. The issue was raised again that night when Rita went to a PTA meeting, where Rita told Perkins to keep his nose out of her business.
Rita's interest then shifted from Ken to Len Fairclough, as Rita's house was due for demolition and Len was on the council housing committee. When Len arrived at the house to meet Rita, he got Terry to leave early for his Boy Scouts meeting by giving him money for sweets. Terry managed to get two bob out of him.
A few weeks later, Rita left Harry Bates and took up with Len. Without her, Harry was unable to look after Terry and the boy was taken into care. In March 1973, he showed up at Rita's doorstep in desperation, asking Rita to stop him being put in a home. Rita shielded him as best she could but when informed that she couldn't foster Terry, and would face a six-month imprisonment for hiding him from the authorities, she gave him up.
Rita continued to think fondly of Terry. They wrote to each other as late as May 1974, and in June 1977, she gave him a warm welcome when he turned up at The Kabin to give her a belated wedding present of a glass ashtray. Now 17, Terry had a job delivering roller towels to factories, a job which he didn't take much pride in. He was still having problems at home, as he explained to Rita, this time with his dad's girlfriend Doreen who was always nagging him or ignoring him, and Harry was no help as he always sided with Doreen. Later that day, Terry had a big argument with Doreen in which he hit her across the face and left home. He turned up at 9 Coronation Street, asking to stay the night. Rita was sympathetic and agreed to take him in for a few days while he looked for digs, but Len thought Rita was being a mug as Terry was nothing to do with her, and, refusing to share his home - and his wife - with another man's son, he threw the lad out right away.
- The character was uncredited in his first appearance.