Robert Preston is the former husband of Tracy Barlow. Robert was working as a carpet fitter when he married 19-year-old Tracy in 1996 after a six month relationship. The couple moved to London soon afterwards but separated in 2002 after Tracy had an affair. Remaining in London, Robert became a fully qualified chef some time later and went on to marry a woman named Joni.
Robert made contact with Tracy again in July 2015, on the day of Tracy's mother's funeral where he admitted his heart always lay with Tracy. He rekindled his relationship with Tracy in the same month and divorced Joni, moving to Weatherfield where he was given a job at Nick's Bistro. Robert left Tracy in May 2016 after she ruined the wedding of Carla Connor and Nick Tilsley, which she had done purely out of spite. Robert continues to work in the Bistro and holds a 50-50 partnership with Nick.
Robert was a 25-year-old carpet fitter when he met Tracy Barlow in 1996. After a six month relationship, they became engaged to the disapproval of Tracy's parents Ken and Deirdre. However they soon warmed to Robert and the couple got married on 13th November 1996. They were going to tie the knot in London, and not tell Ken and Deirdre the news but Tracy decided to marry in Weatherfield instead as it was cheaper. They married at Weatherfield Register Office. She bought a £14 wedding dress. After their wedding, they left the street and moved to London. In 1999, Robert accused Tracy of having an affair with her friend Dan but Tracy insisted nothing was going on between them. Ken and Deirdre were forced to intervene to help the couple sort their issues. In 2002, Tracy had an affair with Robert's best friend Graham which led to her returning to Weatherfield; she later divorced Robert, which shocked her parents. Deirdre tried to change Tracy's mind about Robert, but she simply refused to go back to him.
Robert returned to Weatherfield for Deirdre's funeral in July 2015. He met up with Tracy later that day at No.1 and made it clear he still loved her despite the way she treated him. The pair started to kiss and were in the midst of getting undressed in the living room before Ken walked in. Ken was appalled at Tracy's actions on the day of Deirdre's funeral and ordered Robert to leave. The next day he turned up at Barlow's Buys where Tracy was getting harassed by two men wanting payment after her business partner Tony Stewart did a disappearing act. Robert threatened to beat up the men, causing them to scarper. The couple then had a drink together in the Rovers where Robert revealed he was now working as a chef, and that the reason he returned to the North was because he missed her.
In December, Tracy received a visiting order from ex-fiancé Rob Donovan, and although she was now with Robert, she grudgingly went to visit Rob at Highfield Prison. Rob told Tracy that despite the fact that she had betrayed him by turning him into the police he still loved her. Tracy failed to mention that she was with another man and agreed to visit Rob again. He later managed to use a mobile phone that'd been smuggled into the prison, and called Robert to ask him to meet him. When the two men faced each other, Rob informed Robert that Tracy had been seeing him. Robert was sceptical at first but Rob was able to prove that she had been there. Robert intended to propose to Tracy on Christmas Day but with the new information he decided against doing so and instead made a fool out of Tracy by revealing to everyone in the Rovers that Tracy had been meeting her ex-fiancé. Tracy was devastated to discover that he knew and begged Robert not to leave her, but he didn't listen to her pleas.
Robert ended up spending New Year's Eve at The Sunset Casino drowning his sorrows. While in there, Robert bumped into Carla Connor and decided to sit with her. After a big win at the roulette wheel, they booked a room and while on a high after the big win, they ended up having sex, although they immediately regretted it. Robert then bought a 20% share in Nick's Bistro to wind Carla up. In an attempt to win Robert back, she named her new florist shop Preston's Petals, but Robert refused to attended the opening ceremony and headed back to the bistro but ultimately the couple got back together with Tracy not knowing about Robert and Carla's one-night stand. A few days later Carla found Robert doing paperwork inside the bistro and begged him not to go into business with her fiancé Nick Tilsley, but Robert refused to throw away a good opportunity for her sake. While talking in the darkened room, she spoke about the night in the casino. Unbeknown to Carla, Tracy was in the kitchen half-naked waiting to surprise Robert. After Robert left Carla in the bistro, Tracy was tempted to seek revenge on her long-time rival, but before she could do so two thugs burst into the bistro demanding money. Carla was tackled to the ground before she could escape. Tracy slipped through the back door without telling anyone what had just happened since she was so shocked by Robert's betrayal. Carla suffered serious injuries after she was thrown from the thugs' getaway vehicle in an attempt to reclaim her handbag, and was put on life support but managed to survive.
Carla, frightened that Tracy would tell Nick that she had sex with Robert, begged Nick to leave Weatherfield with her and start afresh in Devon. Robert saw this as an opportunity to buy the bistro and offered £90,000 to Nick for the business but before he could seal the deal, Leanne Tilsley gave a higher offer to Nick - the money being from stepson Simon Barlow's trust fund. Tracy, who desperately wanted the bistro demanded that Carla gave her £10,000 in order to beat Leanne's offer. Carla took money from Underworld's account and handed it to Tracy. Nick ultimately took Robert and Tracy's offer following heavy persuasion from Carla. Nick and Carla's marriage didn't last long and Nick ultimately stayed in Weatherfield whereas Carla moved to Devon by herself. Compared to Nick, Robert was not a natural boss and soon began to mistreat his staff. This resulted in Leanne quitting her job. Nick, in an attempt to spite Robert, planned to open a new restaurant with Leanne and chose premises on Viaduct Street right beside Robert's and he also reported him to the police for drink driving which ended in Rob facing a ban for twelve months. Soon after Robert's chef, Zeedan Nazir, had enough and also quit his job. Now desperately low on staff, Robert managed to strike a deal with Nick but only after much arguing: the two settled on a 50-50 partnership in the bistro.
- Robert Preston was played by Julian Kay for recurring appearances in 1996, 1999 and finally a one-off in 2003. The character was recast with Tristan Gemmill in the role upon the character's return in 2015 and he signed a one-year contract with the show.
- Tristan Gemmill previously appeared on the programme for two episodes in January 2000 as drugs counsellor Will Griffiths.
First and last lines
"Cheers. Nice to meet you." (First line, to Deirdre Rachid)