|Born||8th September 1938|
|First appearance||27th January 1961|
|Last appearance||5th December 1984|
|Duration||1961, 1962, 1963, 1969, 1970-1971, 1972-1973, 1974-1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1984|
|Number of appearances||406|
|Played by||Kenneth Farrington|
William "Billy" Walker was the son of Jack and Annie Walker, landlords of the Rovers Return. Although he grew up Weatherfield, Billy moved to London to run a garage in 1961, and only made fleeting appearances in Coronation Street until Jack died in 1970 and Billy returned to help out at the Rovers to ease the burden on Annie. A mechanic at heart, Billy was never happy behind the bar of the Rovers and left Weatherfield several times in the early 1970s to work elsewhere.
In 1974, Billy became engaged to Deirdre Hunt. With the wedding only weeks away in 1975, Billy called off the wedding and left to take a job in Jersey, which became Billy's new home. In the years that followed, Billy occasionally returned, like a bad penny, usually to ask Annie for money for the latest business deal which interested him as he usually gambled his own money away and was always debt-ridden. He kept tabs on Deirdre, despite her marrying and divorcing Ray Langton in his absence, and unsuccessfully tried to convince her to make a new start with him in Jersey.
When Annie retired in 1984, Billy took over the Rovers licence at her request, but after a short time as landlord he was forced out by the brewery for holding after-hours parties.
1938-1969: Early lifeEdit
William "Billy" Walker was born on 8th September 1938. His parents, Jack and Annie Walker, had been the licencees of the Rovers Return Inn for a year and the family lived in the Rovers, later joined by the Walkers' daughter Joan, born 1940.
Annie had high aspirations for her children and sent them to Mrs Dudley Henderson's Private School, but Billy was expelled for fighting and had to go to Bessie Street School like most other children in Coronation Street did.
In the late 1950s, he was going out with factory girl Doreen Lostock (who Annie didn't approve of) when he was called away for National Service, returning from duty as a Corporal in Hong Kong in January 1961. Billy took a job as a car mechanic at the Blue Bell Garage, and was happy to make a career out of the trade. When the boss's son opened a garage in Chiswick, London, and Billy was offered the job of foreman, Billy accepted and left Weatherfield to live down south.
In 1962, he met up with former neighbour Dennis Tanner, who was also in London working for a talent agency. Dennis represented beauty queen Philippa Scopes and introduced her to Billy. Back in Weatherfield, the Walkers were surprised to read in the newspapers that the pair were engaged, and they were even contacted by reporters. Billy and Phillipa came up to Weatherfield, but Annie didn't take to Phillipa because of her profession. Phillipa broke off the engagement to return to beauty contests in London, closely followed by Billy who returned to his job.
Billy was sacked from the garage in 1964 and was worried about keeping up with his rent. Jack helped him out and made regular payments to the landlady, Mrs. Nicholls, but when Annie found out about the payments she assumed the worst and briefly left Jack. Billy came up from London to put Annie straight, and got a new job soon afterwards.
Billy's penchant for getting others into trouble continued when he got engaged to Merle Baker under the name David Barlow. While in Weatherfield Merle met the real David Barlow and was surprised he looked nothing like Billy.
The next time Billy visited, he was in a serious relationship again, and it was going well until the parents met his girlfriend, Chinese Jasmine Choong, in 1969. Annie was against her because she was Chinese and they didn't get along at all. Eventually Jasmine left because of Annie's prejudice. Disgruntled Billy also left.
1970-1974: Permanent return to WeatherfieldEdit
Jack died in 1970. When Annie decided to continue as the sole licensee of the Rovers, Billy moved back to Weatherfield permanently, deciding to start afresh, look after Annie and put in the occasional shift at the Rovers. However he also looked after his own interests and, doing fairly well financially, bought the Canal Garage and employed Alan Howard as a mechanic, businessman Alan having just declared himself bankrupt. Alan had been successful and didn't easily get used to just being an employee. When he repaired Ken Barlow's mini as a favour without asking Billy, Billy was unhappy with him, but Alan wasn't one to make the same mistake twice and their working relationship was fine after that.
Later that year, Frank Bradley used the garage to work on stolen cars. Billy was going to inform the police but relented as Frank's girlfriend Bet Lynch thought she could keep Frank under control. In 1971, Billy was already thinking about moving on and moving back to London where there was a garage he was interested in buying. He held onto the Canal Garage, promoting Alan to manager, increasing his wages and giving him a share of profits - a generous offer from Billy.
The garage didn't do good business, and Billy returned with his tail between his legs in 1972, and £3,000 in debt. He cut his losses and sold the garage to Alan for £2,500, and went to work at the Rovers permanently. Despite her age, Annie insisted on staying on as landlady, but the brewery Newton & Ridley preferred Billy to take over the licence. Billy turned the offer down for Annie's sake.
Billy left for London again to motivate Annie when she had taken to bed, returning when she was up and about again.
By 1973 Billy was turning into a drinker and a gambler, with seemingly nothing in his life except the Rovers, which he had always hated. He was betting using the pub's takings and he decided to leave quietly, but left a note for Annie.
When Alan and his wife Elsie moved to Newcastle, Billy returned to Weatherfield to buy the garage and get on his feet again. Annie was curious where he got the money to buy the garage from, but Stuart Draper showed up to demand money from Billy, who had sold him a second hand car as new. Draper couldn't do anything legally and Billy wasn't worried at all that he would do anything. Draper drove the car into the Rovers door when Billy didn't respond to reason, but when the police moved the car Draper wasn't able to take matters further.
1974-1975: Relationship with Deirdre HuntEdit
In 1974, Billy set his sights on 19-year-old Deirdre Hunt. He had to compete for her affections with Ray Langton, who was closer to Deirdre in age. Billy and Ray fought in the street over Deirdre, but she ended up dating Billy.
The relationship moved quickly and Billy soon popped the question to Deirdre (without a ring, which he couldn't afford). Annie didn't like Deirdre or her mother, Blanche Hunt, and Billy was tired of Annie's judgementalism. The engagement lasted for months without the pair setting a date.
Later that year, Tony Bolton and Paul Meggitt stole jackets from the Mark Brittain Warehouse in Coronation Street and stored them at the garage. The police were called in to investigate stolen goods found in Paul's van when Billy was servicing it, but as Billy couldn't explain how they got there he had to spend a night in a cell. Fred Bolton shopped his own son to the police, hoping it would set him on the straight and narrow.
In 1975, Billy and Deirdre fixed a wedding date of 1st June. Annie was still against it and was taken aback when Billy agreed to pay for the wedding, which promised to be an expensive affair. Deirdre was satisfied to live in the Rovers when they got married, but later changed her mind. Billy thought Deirdre was having doubts and called off the wedding, quickly leaving for a barman's job in Jersey. Deirdre had been having doubts but had still wanted to marry Billy - she eventually married Ray Langton after all, but Blanche always preferred Billy.
1975 onwards: Later lifeEdit
Billy made Jersey his home and only occasionally visited Annie, usually when he needed money. In 1978, he had to return because of a possible takeover at the brewery. He was to take on the tenancy of the Rovers but the takeover fell through and he went back to Jersey.
In 1979, Billy wanted to buy a wine bar and came up to Weatherfield to ask Annie for a loan. Annie was willing to simply give him the money, but when he asked Deirdre to go with him, Annie made it clear her offer was to be withdrawn if Deirdre went along though she eventually changed her mind about this. Deirdre stayed behind as she didn't think Billy would be a good father to her daughter Tracy, but Annie gave Billy the money he needed.
When Annie went to live with Joan in Derby, Billy returned to Weatherfield again to run the Rovers, reluctantly, in 1984. He left at the first opportunity and was replaced by Gordon Lewis, but when debt forced him to leave Jersey, he went to live at the Rovers, and when the brewery found out they insisted he take over the licence.
Not learning from his mistakes, Billy was gambling away the money he had left and offered the wine bar to Mike Baldwin, who wasn't interested. Deirdre was now married to Ken Barlow, and while Ken was away Billy made a pass at Deirdre, but she threw him out. He was intrigued to learn Deirdre had had an affair with Mike. Desperate to pay off a loan, Billy sunk to a new low and blackmailed Emily Bishop to get hold of the insurance money she had got when her husband was murdered in 1978. Mike threatened to tell the police about Billy's crooked deals in Jersey, but Billy was persuaded to go to Annie to sort himself out.
After taking over the licence, Billy wanted to sack potman Fred Gee but not pay compensation. Billy overworked Fred and goaded him into hitting him, then had his name blacklisted by the brewery. Billy was ultimately forced out of the Rovers when he opened for after-hours parties, and supplied supermarket alcohol. Newton & Ridley bought him out, bringing the 47-year Walker empire at the Rovers to an end.
- Billy made a brief visit to Weatherfield in 1963 for Annie's This is Your Life. Joan also made an appearance, having moved away to Derby to marry Gordon Davies.
- In 1970, Billy hired Bet Lynch as a barmaid behind the Rovers to alleviate Annie's staff shortage. Annie was appalled at the way Bet dressed and behaved in front of men but Billy convinced her to give Bet a chance by betting her that with Bet behind the bar business would improve. Bet ended up staying, beginning a 25-year stint which would see her eventually become landlady.
- He also went out with widow Irma Barlow for a while. Again, Annie was quick to judge, but Billy decided to shock her by pretending the relationship was serious and Irma was pregnant.
- Billy was a surprise guest at Annie's '40 years at the Rovers' party in 1977.
- In 2002, Ken Barlow attempted to contact Billy to invite him and all the other previous Rovers owners to Betty Williams' retirement party. However, Billy proved to be unreachable and so he was unable to attend.
- Actor Kenneth Farrington auditioned for the part of Dennis Tanner before being cast as Billy.
- Billy's 1970 return came about after the death of Arthur Leslie, who played Jack Walker.
- It was intended that Billy would marry Deirdre in 1975, however Farrington's abrupt departure from the series made the scenario impossible. Instead of shelving the storyline, writers changed the identity of Deirdre's suitor from Billy to Ray, and a number of scenes were written to explain Deirdre's surprise last-minute decision to marry Ray, a character she had never got along with.
"Pint of beer, please" (First line, upon entering the Rovers on a surprise leave).