Richard Charles Hillman was a financial advisor and businessman who had been married twice prior to arriving in Weatherfield. In June 2001, he turned up at Alma Halliwell's funeral, claiming to be her cousin. He began a relationship with Gail Platt.
Richard went into property development with Duggie Ferguson, but the partnership was troubled. Richard left Duggie for dead after he fell from a flight of stairs in The Ridings, a property they were selling; where Richard chose to rob Duggie of his money rather than help him. When Richard was due to marry Gail later in the summer, his ex-wife Patricia came back threatening to tell everyone about what Richard was really like and ruin his business, so Richard killed her with a shovel and buried her body in the foundations of his new flats.
Richard began to have financial troubles, and tried to kill Gail's mother Audrey Roberts after finding out she was wealthy. He made her look like she was going insane and set her house on fire, making it look as if she had caused it. His attempts to kill her proved unsuccessful, so in January 2003 he decided to murder Emily Bishop instead, as he could inherit her house and money. Whilst babysitting for Joshua Peacock. He beat Emily over the head with a crowbar, however he was interrupted by Maxine, so Richard killed her when she started to panic. Emily survived the attack but was unaware that Richard was responsible. Richard confessed his crimes to Gail after she had grown increasingly suspicious of his behaviour, then fled the Street. He returned two weeks later, and tried to kill the family by tying them up in the car in the garage and gassing them. He then drove the car into Weatherfield Canal; they were all pulled out alive, but Richard drowned.
1951-2001: Early years and arrival in Weatherfield
Richard was a financial adviser and had two previous marriages before arriving in Weatherfield. His first wife was Marion, who wanted to have children, but Richard had to attend to his sick mother. Marion divorced him, as she didn't want to take care of an old pensioner. Following his mother's death he married Patricia. Like Marion, she wanted children but Richard later discovered he couldn't have any children. Believing he made up the story, Patricia also divorced him. In 2001, he turned up at Alma Halliwell's funeral, claiming to be her cousin. He befriended Gail Platt and they eventually began dating. Before long, he'd moved in with Gail and started winning over her children with expensive presents. Hillman's dealings were questioned by Norris Cole when he learned that elderly people had lost their life savings to Richard.
Richard went into business with Duggie Ferguson, converting The Ridings, an old house in Crimea Street, into luxury flats. However, the partnership soon ran into trouble as Duggie happily cut corners. One night in February 2002, Richard confronted Duggie in one of the flats, angered by the poor workmanship that his partner had overseen. When Duggie leaned on one of the bannisters it gave way and he fell through several floors. Duggie was badly injured, and although Richard initially intended to help him, he realised that this was an ideal opportunity to rid himself of his unwanted business partner. Leaving Duggie for dead, Richard took the keys from Duggie's pocket, visited his house and emptied his safe, including the money that Duggie had made from the sale of the Rovers. To cover himself, Richard went to meet Gail at the pub and left a message on Duggie's phone arranging to meet him the next day. The following morning Richard visited the conversion site with Gail, and he was shocked to see Duggie was missing, though he had only crawled into the next room before succumbing to his injuries.
2002-2003: Debts and murder spree
Richard was due to marry Gail in the summer of 2002, but his ex-wife Patricia turned up, demanding £25,000 for her share of their business, Kellett Holdings. When she threatened to tell the police and Gail about Richard's past crimes, Richard grabbed a shovel and smashed Patricia over the head, killing her instantly. She fell into a ditch at The Ridings where new flats were to be built, and her body was buried in the cement by Richard. Later, the police visited Richard to inform him that a body matching Patricia's description had been found. Richard identified it as Patricia, even though it wasn't her, and was convinced that he was now safe, as nobody would be looking for the real body. With the issue of Patricia out of the way, he married Gail and the whole family went on their honeymoon to Florida.
Richard discovered that Gail's mother Audrey Roberts was wealthy, and Gail would inherit a large sum of money if she died. In the autumn, He set about trying to convince Audrey (and everyone else) that she was going insane by stealing her keys and leaving them in the door of the salon, altering the salon's appointments book, and leaving the radio on in her house. His plan appeared to be working and Audrey began questioning her sanity, but she discovered that one of her "mistakes" was not one when paperwork from the dry cleaners on Moxton Street proved she was right about an incident there. One night, Richard set her house on fire when Audrey was asleep. She was saved with the help of Steve McDonald and Archie Shuttleworth. She worked out that it must have been Richard behind the incident and tried to convince Gail of this. However, her frantic attempts to prove this to Gail only resulted in her becoming convinced Audrey was having mental problems and soon refused to speak to her. With the police also dismissive of Audrey's claims, she soon found her only allies against Richard were Norris and Archie.
Richard had previously persuaded Emily Bishop to sign a contract in which he would give her a sum of money for her house, and she would be allowed to live there until her death, upon which the deed to the house would revert to him. Richard started to have serious money problems when the flats he owned weren't selling due to the planned construction of a bail hostel nearby, and he knew he had to earn some money fast. When he heard that Emily would be babysitting for the Peacocks as there was a party at the Rovers, he decided to murder Emily. He also decided to kill two birds with one stone, and stage it as a robbery in order to take revenge on Gail's daughter Sarah Platt's troublesome boyfriend Aidan Critchley for abandoning her after a car accident. First, Richard drugged Aidan with some tranquillisers that had been prescribed for Audrey and after he had passed out, Richard stole his jacket and (after making sure he was seen wearing it from the back) broke into the Peacocks' house and hit Emily hard over the head with a crowbar while she was watching TV. Unfortunately Maxine showed up, wanting to check on her son Joshua. After remarking "You should have stayed at the party Maxine", Richard beat her to death with the crowbar. Emily miraculously survived the attack, but had no recollection of it. The other aspect of Richard's plan worked; no-one suspected him of having any involvement and Aidan was quickly arrested with almost everyone believing he was behind Maxine's murder during a bungled robbery.
Richard soon learned that Ann Lawson, one of his elderly clients, had died a week earlier, and therefore he already owned a house that he could sell. Furthermore, the plans for the bail hostel had also fallen through and as a result the flat he owned began to sell. Richard was now guilt-ridden, as he realised that there had been no need for him to harm Emily or Maxine.
Richard was desperate to avoid Maxine's funeral, but could not get out of it. Richard almost cracked up during the service, and when Maxine's father broke down while reading a bible passage, Gail insisted that Richard took over the reading. Audrey noticed how tense Richard appeared and realised that he was responsible for Maxine's death and publicly accused him of murdering her. However no-one believed her, and Gail severed all ties with her mother. Ken Barlow, having seen Aidan Critchley under the effects of the tranquillisers on the night of the murder, knew he wasn't responsible but the rest of the Street turned against him, believing him to be defending a murderer.
2003: Richard's downfall
When Richard murdered his ex-wife Patricia months earlier, a bracelet that slipped off her wrist in the struggle was found by Steve McDonald. Richard later took it off him and gave it to Gail, saying it was a present for her. Gail overheard Steve in the pub talking about the bracelet and how he'd found it, not Richard. She began to get suspicious of Richard when she learned that he'd lied about several matters connected to the disappearance of Patricia. Police tests confirmed that Aidan had been drugged on the night of the murder with the same tranquillisers that Audrey had been prescribed, and therefore could not have killed Maxine. Gail recalled seeing Richard at the medicine cabinet containing the tablets, and that he had disappeared from the party for a while and started to piece everything together. That night, she confronted him back at the house. Richard then confessed the murders and his plans. Shocked and disgusted, Gail called him Norman Bates with a briefcase, and Richard went on the run where he quickly became the most wanted man in the UK.
A couple of weeks later, Richard returned to the Street. He kidnapped Gail, Sarah, Gail's son David Platt and her granddaughter Bethany Platt, binding and gagging them in his car in the garage. Gail was shocked to find him waiting in her home. He told her that the children were safe, and that they could run away together. He tied Gail up and took her into the garage. When she saw her children tied up, she realised that Richard was going to kill himself and them as well. When he started up the car, Audrey came round to help with the tea but couldn't get inside. When she heard music coming from the garage, she realised Richard was back. Kevin Webster burst the garage door open, but Richard sped off into the night. Gail's ex-husband Martin Platt, along with Tommy Harris and Kevin Webster pursued them in another car. Richard then drove into the canal, and Gail and the children were saved by Tommy.
Richard managed to escape from the car, but drowned in the process, and his body was later identified by Gail and Audrey.
- In 2006, cards were sent to the Platt family, apparently sent from a deceased Richard. After months of card sending, the person behind it turned out to be no other than David Platt. Gail managed to trick him by stating to David that Richard's birthday was coming up in June, and when a card arrived, she told him that Richard's birthday was in December. However, she later dropped the matter as she blamed herself for bringing Richard into his life.
- Actor Brian Capron who played Richard Hillman actually wanted his character to get killed off, as he wanted that rather than his character going to prison.
- Around 19.2 million viewers turned in when Richard confessed to his wife Gail about his crimes in February 2003.
- Brian Capron made a guest appearance in the Coronation Street spin-off DVD Coronation Street: A Knight's Tale in 2010, as a character named Dickie. The scenes were shared with Norris Cole, who swore to his friend Mary Taylor that he looked like Richard. Dickie also made remarks about his love for water and comes from a family of water lovers, an obvious nod to Richard himself.
- The Richard Hillman storyline was voted and featured in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Scariest Moments in 2003, ranking at 32nd place.
- Brian's portrayal as Richard helped him earn Best Actor, Best exit and Villain of the Year at the British Soap Awards in 2003.
- It was never revealed if Richard was genuinely Alma Halliwell's cousin, or if he just used this as a front to attend her funeral and find more people to potentially con out of their money.
- Brian also played the role of Don Worthington, the social worker of Sharon Gaskell in the 1980s, who was sympathetic to her wishes to be fostered by Len and Rita Fairclough.
First and last lines
"Hello" (First line, to Janice Battersby)
"This is it. I LOVE YOU!" (Final line, before driving his family into Weatherfield Canal)