Ralph Dobson was sales manager at Ingram's Textiles and a close friend of Peter and Jackie Ingram. Ralph was put in charge of Mike Baldwin when Ingram made Mike work's manager on the shop floor to get at him.
Following Ingram's sudden death due to a heart attack, Ralph broke the news to the staff and became the factory's de facto manager. Meanwhile, despite his lowly position within the business, Mike started acting as if he was in charge and handled phone calls meant for Ingram. Mike became determined to win Jackie's trust and prove to her that his cut-and-thrust approach to business would bear more fruit than Ralph's overly cautious and by-the-book attitude.
Although wary of Mike, Ralph didn't stoop to his level, concentrating simply on keeping the factory running smoothly. In September, he and his wife Enid attended a party at No. 6 Quebec House, Weatherfield Quays thrown by Mike and Alma Sedgewick, at which Jackie, councillor Deirdre Barlow and potential customer Phil Jennings were among the guests. As was seemingly a common occurrence, Ralph spent most of the evening trying to keep his inebriated wife from showing them up, before leaving at the earliest opportunity.
Mike convinced Jackie she should make a go of running the factory herself and passed this news onto Ralph. Ralph saw that Mike was now pulling the strings at the factory and handed in his resignation, advising Jackie that she was out of her depth and that Mike was poison.
After leaving Ingram's, Ralph was approached by Blackshaws to act as a consultant as they restructured their business. A year later, while working with a larger textile company, he arranged a private meeting with Jackie, who was now engaged to Mike, and offered to buy her out. Jackie agreed to sell but she asked Ralph not to tell Mike.
While investigating Ingram's accounts, Ralph discovered that Alcazar Holdings, which Mike had told Jackie was a holding company for tax purposes, was actually the lease holder on Jim's Cafe. Ralph paid a visit to the cafe to confirm that it was managed by Mike's ex Alma who lived in the flat above which was also covered by the lease. Now married to Mike, Jackie believed her husband when he told her the cafe was a good business investment and there was nothing between him and Alma. More was to come however as after an argument with Mike, Phil Jennings told Jackie that Mike had been after the factory since their first meeting. Jackie walked out on Mike and asked Ralph to proceed with the factory takeover. Before the deal was finalised, Ralph had a final confrontation with Mike, where he took great satisfaction in refusing to disclose Jackie's location and throwing Mike out of his own office.