23rd June1997: Ever since Des Barnes had moved into Coronation Street in 1990 he had enjoyed playing a series of practical jokes on unwilling neighbours Derek and Mavis Wilton. On his return from an extended trip of his boat in the spring of 1997 he saw no reason to stop the tradition and posted a book of sex tips named Nautical Nights and Nymphs through their letterbox, only to be horrified when he was told that Derek had died several weeks before. Hearing that Mavis was away and Emily Bishop had a key to the house he begged her to allow him in but wouldn’t say why. Emily strung him along, asking him the full reason he needed the key. She fetched the book herself and gave it back to Des but not before she enjoyed herself in thoroughly embarrassing him by talking about a specific illustration on page 43 and how difficult it was to work out what was going on and the difficulty she had in “unravelling” the couple pictured. She asked him to explain it to her, saying that she was a thoroughly unconventional person. Des finally saw through the joke and apologised for his actions.
Billy Walker was the son of Rovers Return landlords Jack and Annie Walker who had a brief spell as the pub's licensee after his mother retired in 1984. Billy grew up in Coronation Street before moving south to make his millions in 1961. Most of the 1960s was spent running garages in London while searching for Miss Right; by 1969, he had been in two serious relationships and engaged once but never married. In 1970, Jack's sudden death forced Billy to return home to Weatherfield. He did his duty by living at the Rovers and helping out at the pub to support Annie, but resisted the brewery's attempts to install him as landlord, preferring to forge his own path. Returning to his trade, he bought the Canal Garage and divided his time between that and the Rovers. In 1975, he was weeks away from marrying Deirdre Hunt when his fiancée called it off. Billy decided that it was time to move on and left to work in a hotel bar in Jersey, which he made his home.