James "Jim" McDonald is the father of Steve and Andy and ex-husband of Liz.

Before moving to Coronation Street in 1989, Jim served with the Royal Engineers. On civvy street, he worked as a builder, mechanic and repairman and briefly managed The Queens pub with Liz in 1993.

Jim's cool reserve hid a temper which flared up violently when his family or pride were hurt. He and Liz had a stormy relationship; Jim's fists and his paranoia over Liz's affairs drove them apart but they always reconciled. Their first marriage ended in 1996 after Jim hit Liz when she confessed to a fling with his colleague Johnny Johnson years earlier. They re-married in 2000 prior to Jim being sentenced of the manslaughter of drug dealer Jez Quigley, who had beaten up Steve. They split again in 2005 when Liz had enough of waiting for Jim. He was released from Highmoor Prison in 2007 and remained a free man until 2011, when he was given a seven-year sentence for trying to rob a branch of the Lancashire & Fyle Building Society to give Liz enough money to buy the Rovers Return.

Jim hails from Northern Ireland and was noted for his usage of Irish sayings like finishing his sentences with "so it is" and calling people by their full forenames.


1955-1999: Marriage to Liz

Jim married Liz Greenwood in 1974 when they had twin sons, Andy and Steve. Jim served in the army for a few years and later moved back to Weatherfield with his wife and sons in 1989. Jim got a job as a mechanic working for Kevin Webster in 1992, but tragedy struck when Liz and Jim lost their premature baby daughter Katie, which led to a temporary split.

In February 1996, Liz confessed to having an affair with Johnny Johnson as they were heading back home from attending an Army reunion in Macclesfield. Angered, Jim shouted verbal abuse, dragged Liz from the car and hit her. He then left her lying in the road; she had to make her own way home. Jim later tried to break into their house with a snooker cue rest. He was arrested and a restraining order was placed on him. He subsequently spent three weeks in Strangeways Jail.

In 1998, Jim suffered serious injuries when he fell from scaffolding after a brawl with Steve and was confined to a wheelchair. He was assigned occupational therapist Michael Wall who helped him to walk again. With Michael a near enough permanent fixture at the house, Michael and Liz embarked on an affair and upon learning about his wife's deceit an angry Jim threw Liz out the house. She and Michael left for Milton Keynes.

2000-2007: Prison sentence

In 2000, Steve got beaten up by drug dealer and gangster Jez Quigley as Jez discovered that Steve testified against him for killing Tony Horrocks. In revenge, Jim went round to Jez's flat and severely beat him. Jez died later in Weatherfield General from a ruptured spleen - and after Jez attempted to kill Steve in his hospital bed, Jim handed himself into the police and was remanded in custody. Liz returned and the pair reconciled before remarrying in November 2000 before his trial. Jim was sentenced to eight years for manslaughter.

Three years into his sentence, Jim feared that Liz was having an affair with Laurie Dyson, manager of The Black Dog pub in Blackpool, where Liz was now employed. Jim broke out of Holmes Gate Prison and with the help of Steve, went to Blackpool to meet Liz. Jim and Liz planned on fleeing to Ireland and looked forward to life as fugitives, however the pair stopped to help Ashley Peacock and Claire Casey who were trapped adrift on a boat. When they got back to the marina, Jim was arrested and sent back to prison. In 2005, he was eligible to be released on parole, but this was overturned as he had beaten up a cellmate. Liz visited him and requested a divorce for the second time.

2007-2010: Release

Jim was eventually released early in November 2007 for good behaviour. He appeared to be a changed man and Steve gave him a job at Street Cars, and he was able to see his granddaughter Amy. However, Jim still had feelings for his ex-wife Liz, who was set to marry Vernon Tomlin. On the day of Liz and Vernon's wedding, Jim declared his undying love for her and they kissed, which ended with Vernon launching at Jim. Steve interrupted and broke up the fight and told Jim that he was not welcome with them. Jim soon left the area. However in August 2009 he returned along with son Andy for Steve's wedding to Becky Granger. When Becky was arrested due to drugs being planted at the pub by her ex-drug dealing boyfriend Slug, Jim suggested to Steve that he put photographs in his cabs in case people recognised him. With that he left once again with Andy and went to Spain. He turned up a year later for his birthday to visit everyone, but wanted to see Liz in particular and wasn't happy about Liz's new boyfriend Owen Armstrong. Annoyed by Jim turning up looking for Liz, Owen hired some of his builders to beat Jim up, putting him in hospital. Steve went to see him and when Jim was discharged, he warned Steve about Owen. Sometime later, Owen was told by Steve that Liz wanted nothing to do with him.

2011-2016: Back in the big house


Jim fails to rob a building society, which later lands him back in prison.

In 2011, Jim returned again when Liz had fallen out with Steve and Becky as it was believed that Becky was making a mess of her son's life. After a talk with Liz, Steve came up with a plan to buy the Rovers to pay off his debts, as he had got into financial problems when the pair "bought" nephew Max Turner from Becky's half-sister Kylie. Steve was angered by the idea and felt betrayed. However, when Becky came up with an idea to run off to Spain with Max and Amy to get away from both Kylie and Tracy, Steve agreed to sell the pub to Jim. His parents accepted the idea of Steve, Becky and the children running away, and looked forward to running the pub together and giving their relationship another go. However Jim was having problems with getting the money. On the day when Steve and Becky planned on fleeing, Jim was unable to make up the money for the pub. He met up with former cellmate Spoony, who presented him with a shotgun. He then went to a branch of Lancashire & Fyle Building Society intent on robbing it so he could get the £120,000 to buy the pub. However, the panic button was pressed and Jim ended up taking everyone in the bank hostage as the police arrived. Liz and Steve were called to the scene and Liz managed to talk Jim out through the phone. Jim let the hostages go and planned on killing himself, but decided to give himself up. He was arrested and put into a police car, and told Liz he was very sorry for everything. She visited him in Strangeways and promised that she would wait for him when he would be released. However later that night, she left the Street, and Steve visited him the next day with a letter she left for him and Jim blamed himself for everything.

Jim was given a sentence of a minimum of seven years' imprisonment. Steve was the only one to attend the trial; Liz chose not to return as she felt it would be too humiliating. Jim was upset by the snub and told Steve he wanted nothing more to do with any of his family.

While serving out the remainder of his sentence in Highfield Prison, Jim began selling alcohol under the name "The Landlord" and had built a reputation up for himself. In August 2014, he was approached by alcoholic Peter Barlow who was on remand for murdering Tina McIntyre. Jim decided to comply with his "requests" as he was a friend of son Steve, but told Peter that he would be expecting payment.

Over time Peter became dependent on Jim and was suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms (seemingly unnoticed by Jim). He then made a proposition to Peter - get him back in contact with Liz and Steve in exchange for more drink. Peter made a call to Steve begging him to visit him, and asked for him to visit his father. However Jim was instead visited by Liz who then told Jim to leave her and Steve alone. Angry Jim refused Peter more booze as he hadn't fulfilled his side of the deal. Jim later found Peter collapsed in the prison kitchens having found the booze, and summoned help. This earned his respect from Steve, who decided to make amends with his father for saving Peter's life. When Peter was discharged from Weatherfield General and was returned to prison, Jim warned him that the other prisoners weren't happy for Peter drinking most of the supply, and goaded him that his family was visiting, but Peter had no one. In revenge Peter told Tracy that Jim had supplied him with the booze, and in turn told Steve who again cut contact with his father. Angry Jim arranged for Peter to be beaten up.

In the aftermath of Peter's beating, Liz turned up at the prison for Deirdre's sake to beg Jim to leave Peter alone. Jim then resorted to blackmail, telling Liz to visit him in exchange for Peter being left alone. Liz complied, however when it began driving a wedge between her and partner Tony Stewart, she decided to cut off contact with Jim.

Still not wanting to lose her, Jim acquired a mobile phone and continued to harass Liz. When she visited him to ask him to stop, a delighted Jim informed her that he may be moved to an open prison soon, meaning that he could come and visit her. When this information got back to Steve who felt used by Jim, he turned up at the prison and reported Jim for illegally using a mobile phone and harassing Liz. An angered Jim had to be dragged away by prison guards as he swore revenge on Steve, with his sentence most likely being extended for his illegal activities.

Jim was hospitalised and diagnosed with Myotonic Dystrophy in October 2016. After his diagnosis, Jim promptly rang Steve to tell him that there was a 50% chance that he would have the condition too.

Other information

  • Jim is currently due to be released from prison in 2018.
  • Jim's Royal Engineers number was 67569897. 

Background information

  • Jim was written out of Coronation Street after ten years in 2000 as the character was axed. However Charles Lawson continued to make guest stints from 2003 onwards. In April 2011, the character was written out in a building society robbery plot which saw the character return to prison. Actor Charles Lawson reflected on the storyline in 2014 and admitted he found it stupid, however he said that there were problems behind the scenes as Beverley Callard had to take a break after real life problems (the character was absent for a few months between November 2010 and March 2011) which prompted rewrites.
  • Jim was reintroduced in August 2014 as part of a storyline where Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) had been wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) and Charles Lawson was given a three month contract. He departed two months later and his final scenes aired on 22nd October 2014.

First and last lines

"Hi. Listen, sorry just to drop in on you like this but we've just seen your house in the estate agent window and was wondering if we could have a wee look around." (First line, to Audrey Roberts)


"You must be the lowest form of pond life to betray your father. I'll have you! I'll have you! I swear to God I'll have you!" (Final line, to son Steve.)

See also