Vi was the oldest child of Ivy Makepiece, a disturbed woman whose demons and the poor conditions of the era led her to often abuse her children. The Makepieces were the first tenants of 11 Coronation Street after it was built in 1902. Ivy's drinking often meant that the responsibility of looking after her younger siblings fell to Vi. She married Jack Todd as World War I broke out, with Jack leaving soon after their wedding. The war changed Jack, but he and Vi had one of the happier and longer-running marriages on the Street for the next few decades.
Vi briefly gave up work to dedicate her time to her 'gift' as a medium. She became a local celebrity when she predicted the great storm of 1927 but when her forecast of a snow-free Christmas wasn't borne out, she hurriedly got her old job back.
In 1939, as war clouds found their way to Weatherfield once again, Vi, now something of a matriarchal figure in the Street, befriended young Elsie Tanner, who had just moved to Weatherfield with her husband Arnold. Elsie began a sexual relationship with Vi's son Jim not long before Jim was shipped off to fight, and she comforted Vi when Jim was killed in battle. Vi secretly helped women have abortions, unsuccessfully attempting this with Elsie after Arnold raped her.
Vi swore she would never be like her mother, but she took a firm hand with her daughters when they behaved inappropriately, such as fighting over the same man. When she tried to convince Dot to date Walt Greenhalgh, Dot accused her of only wanting them together because Walt had been in a regiment with Jim. Vi beat her and threw her out of the house for several months, but they finally made peace. Vi was overjoyed when other daughter Sally married an American soldier, Oliver Hart, and gave birth to a son, Clark.
In 1944, a drunk Vi fell into the canal while returning home. While everyone around her assumed she was too strong to die, she became weaker and weaker, and slipped away with her daughters and close friend Elsie by her side. Her beloved husband learned only after returning home from an out of town job.
Vi's influence would be felt in her children and Elsie Tanner for many years to come.