Alma's first husband was Jim Sedgewick and she got the café in the divorce settlement in 1982, but it wasn't until 1989 that a cash-strapped Alma started working there full-time with co-owner Gail Tilsley. Alma was hardworking and a loyal friend but she was led by her heart and in 1989 she set her sights on factory owner Mike Baldwin. They had a relationship but it wasn't until 1992 that they walked down the aisle, Alma putting aside her doubts about Mike's trustworthiness.
During the marriage, Alma had frequent disagreements with Mike over his underhanded business tactics. Mike would sometimes try to appease Alma but the marriage was often a battle of wits, with Alma trying to get one over on Mike after he dismissed her opinion. Keen to prove she was just as capable as Mike, Alma started her own catering business and sold her share of the café to Roy Cropper in 1996, putting the money into Mike's new factory which he opened after selling his garage to Don Brennan at an inflated price. When Don's life then spiralled out of control, he blamed Mike and in 1997 kidnapped Alma in his taxi and drove into the River Irwell. Both survived.
Alma then moved onto pastures new, getting a job at Freshco supermarket and divorcing Mike after finding out about his affair with Julia Stone. She died in 2001 from cervical cancer aged 55, which was already in its final stages when she found out about it. Her friends in the Street were Gail, Audrey Roberts, Hayley Cropper and Ken Barlow.
Alma made her Coronation Street debut in 1981, and when her marriage finally folded in 1982, Alma got Jim's Cafe in Rosamund Street in the divorce settlement. Jim ran off with a florist and Alma went to Florida with pools winner Philip. Unable to deal with his new fortune, Philip squandered money on sex, drugs, booze, and bad investments.
In 1988, Alma argued with Gail Tilsley over a sandwich round that Gail had started with Gina Seddon. Alma wanted the round to stop, stating that Gail should be concentrating on the cafe but Gail threatened to resign unless Alma allowed the sandwich round to continue and wanted a share of the profits. Alma finally caved in and agreed. By 1989 Alma was broke, and returned to Weatherfield to run the café, selling Gail Tilsley a 40% share for £9,000. She fell for Mike Baldwin immediately, and tried to seduce him with oysters. This however backfired, as they made her ill and she ended up rushing backwards and forwards to the bathroom. She eventually managed to seduce Mike after beating him in a game of golf but he dumped her for Dawn Prescott. Alma took up briefly with married man Terry Conway, before returning to Mike as his live-in lover in his luxury dockland apartment.
Mike had sold his factory and was looking around for a new investment, but a dodgy Spanish land deal went sour and Mike lost his money. Returning to the rag trade, Mike operated a sweatshop in the café flat, until it was closed down by Health and Safety Officials for noise pollution. He then took up work as a salesman at Ingram's Textiles - and after the death of boss Peter Ingram, took up with his wife Jackie. After fretting over which woman to remain with, he dumped Alma in December 1990. A distraught Alma spent time with best friend Audrey Roberts to recover, then got revenge by vandalising Jackie's bedroom. Mike still had feelings for Alma, and even felt some responsibility and contributed to the rent of Jim's cafe without Alma's knowledge. These payments caused the destruction Mike's relationship with Jackie. Two weeks after they were married in July 1991, she learnt about the money and initiated divorce proceedings. Meanwhile, Alma had taken up with reliable Ken Barlow after meeting him at a Spanish night class. He planned to take her to a hotel for New Year's Eve but Alma was still drawn to Mike. She spent Christmas Day with him, and when she confessed to Ken at the hotel, he dumped her and left. Mike pursued her again, and they were married in June 1992.
Alma settled down to work at the café with Gail and an assortment of helpers like Audrey, Martin Platt, Phyllis Pearce, and later, Roy Cropper. She also rented the flat above the café to many Street residents including Angie Freeman, Fiona Middleton, Steve McDonald, Maxine Heavey, and the notorious Tanya Pooley.
Alma's marriage was not perfect. In particular, she was well aware of Mike's arrogant and underhand treatment of people, and often found herself apologising for his behaviour. She sympathized with Ken, Jim McDonald, and even Don Brennan (before he tried to kill her.) Mike also had a habit of patronizing his wife and making decisions, overriding her opinion. In March 1995, Alma received a letter informing her that Jim Sedgewick had died three months before and she inherited £2,000 - Mike was put out when Alma splashed out on a convertible MG. The same year, she got a job catering for the Wheatsheaf pub, Mike's chauvinistic dismissal of her talents compelled her to develop the sideline into ABC Catering (Alma Baldwin Catering). Alma was also only too aware of Mike's roving eye and acted jealously when Mike stepped in to help long-time friend Deirdre Rachid, and when he employed Liz McDonald.
In January 1996, misfortune visited the Baldwins when Audrey Roberts's son, Stephen Reid, arrived from Canada as a representative of Kbec clothing. He was looking for an English manufacturing base and asked Alma to provide catering for a business presentation. Alma was attracted to Stephen and later made a pass at him, which was embarrassingly rebuffed. Later, she was incensed when she told Mike and he told her he wasn't worried. Mike won the contract to make clothing and re-established a factory, selling his garage to Don Brennan at an inflated price. Don went bankrupt and his girlfriend Josie Clarke left him. He nursed a grievance against Mike that intensified when he was done for drink driving when about to pick Mike up in his taxi. Don's hatred was to threaten Alma's life. He attempted suicide and left a threatening message on the factory answer machine. When Stephen heard about what had happened, he cancelled the contract with Mike, who blamed Alma. Stephen later taunted Alma with her feelings, and accused her of secretly enjoying it when he ruined Mike, Alma dismissed him and was fully reconciled with her husband. The affair caused ructions in her friendships. Audrey wouldn't hear a word against her son and accused her of being angry because Stephen had rejected her.
Mike needed capital to continue with the factory, and when Alma offered to sell her share of the café, Gail felt that she was left high and dry. When Stephen accused her of trying to wreck Gail's business to get to him, she slapped him. Alma was set to sell to pizza chain Pizza Heaven, and dismissed an offer by Roy Cropper, believing him mentally incompetent but relented when Gail pleaded with her and Roy bought her share for £35,000. Alma and Gail were friends again.
Mike continued making and selling counterfeit Kbec gear, until Don burned the factory down and shopped him for arson and insurance fraud. Initially, even Alma doubted his innocence but lack of proof meant Mike was never charged. Don looked at other means of revenge and chose Alma, kidnapping her and taking her on a terror trip around Weatherfield, pouring out his complaints, before plunging into the river Irwell. Alma was lucky to escape with her life and Don was sent to a mental institution. After the stress, Alma wanted to emigrate to Florida. Mike again upset her by dismissing her dreams and embarked on a business deal with Angie Freeman to found the Underworld underwear factory. She looked around for a job and got one at Firman's Freezers. Once more Mike bowled in with other ideas, whisking Alma away for a holiday to Cyprus, telling Curly to forget her job. When they returned however, Alma was determined that Mike would not get the better of her. She secured a shelf-stacker's position at Firman's and was soon made Employee of the Month - her face even featured in Firman's promotions. However, Don was not yet finished with the Baldwins. Alma visited him in hospital and he apologized but later escaped and attacked Mike with a chair-leg at the Factory. Failing to kill him, he took Alma's car, ploughing into the viaduct and killed himself.
At Firman's, Alma met assistant manager Hayley Patterson who was friendless and lacked self-confidence. Feeling sorry for her, Alma attempted to get Hayley to stand up for herself but Hayley latched onto Alma, who she considered her only friend. Deciding to set Hayley up with Curly, Alma held and improptu dinner party and invited Hayley, Curly, Audrey and Roy Cropper (who was invited to simply make up the numbers). The dinner party was a disaster with Audrey getting drunk and revealing Alma's misjudging matchmaking... however Hayley found a connection with Roy, as they were both socially awkward and often lonely. Friendship blossomed, until Hayley told Roy she was a transsexual waiting for her gender reassignment operation. Roy rejected her, and Hayley confided her secret with Alma, who was caring and sympathetic and pushed Roy to start treating Hayley right. Hayley and Roy were eventually reunited shortly before she left to go abroad for her final operations.
On the domestic front, Alma had to cope with an unwelcome guest. Deirdre Rachid was charged with fraud and as usual Mike had stepped in to help her, offering her a place to stay. Alma was not best pleased, especially when she was placed on suicide watch after Mike caught Deirdre staring wistfully at some pills. Deirdre was eventually convicted and sent to jail, but shortly afterwards released after new evidence of Jon Lindsay's criminal activities.
Hayley returned to Weatherfield in June 1998 and restarted her relationship with Roy, to Alma's concern, but happiness. She was amazed when Hayley passed a test and got a job in Mike's factory.
Accidentally, she told Mike that Hayley was transsexual after a social security mix-up and Mike decided to sack her, to Alma's horror. She pleaded and eventually scolded Mike to give her her job back and eventually he relented, but never really accepted her. When Hayley's secret finally did come out to the factory, Roy launched an attack on Alma for telling Mike in the first place.
In February 1999, Roy and Hayley fell out just before the Valentines Disco but Alma persuaded Roy not to give up on her and to go along. He did, and he proposed to Hayley there and then. Alma was asked to be Matron of Honour, and allowed Hayley to stay at their house the night before the wedding, in April, to Mike's displeasure.
In May 1999, Alma discovered that Mike had been blackmailed following an affair with Julia Stone and they separated. Alma moved in with the recently widowed Audrey. Despite some attempt to reconcile, she realised that she no longer loved him as she had done and the marriage was over. Later that summer, she heard that Mike had been seeing another woman, and was visited by Hayley, who told her it was Mike's mouthy machinist, Linda Sykes. Alma then divorced Mike citing unreconcilable differences. Or maybe she had just had enough of Mike's duplicitous nature... and Linda Sykes.
Following her divorce, Alma changed her surname back to Halliwell. Later, she was pursued by Councillor Bob Bradshaw, but it didn't last, because he was eventually arrested for taking bribes.
In October 2000, Alma, along with Mike, Ken and others, was held hostage at gunpoint in the Freshco's siege by the man who turned to be Linda Sykes' brother. During this time, she became friendly with retiring security guard Frank O'Connor. They escaped unharmed and Alma and Frank became good friends.
In 2001, Alma received devastating news: a misdiagnosis, combined with a missed smear test at the hospital, meant she had developed cervical cancer that had extended to such a degree, that even if she did receive treatment it wouldn't do any good. In short - Alma had terminal cancer of the cervix.
Alma, not wanting to die in hospital, passed away peacefully at Audrey's house on 17th June 2001 from the cancer with Mike Baldwin, Ken Barlow and Audrey Roberts at her side. 13 years after Alma's death cancer would claim the life of her friend Hayley in a similar fashion.
First and last linesEdit
"I'm sorry to keep you love... I mean you don't have to be an octopus to work here, but it does help!" (First line, to Bert Tilsley)