Tony Cunliffe was a Police Sergeant who transferred to Weatherfield in 1984. Sgt Graham Ibbotson, a former colleague of Cyril Turpin's, asked Betty if she'd put Tony up at 37 Hillside Crescent and although unsure at first she accepted after finding a photograph of Tony with Cyril.
The middle-aged, moustached man soon caught the eye of Bet Lynch, who called at the house to flirt with him after finding out he was separated. Tony considered himself a free agent and so agreed to go out with Bet. He wasn't serious about their relationship, which suited Bet at first but once they spent the night together she started falling for him. Oblivious to this, Tony was getting bored with Bet and set his sights on Rita Fairclough. Rita turned down his request for a date at first as she'd seen him with Bet but she agreed to go out with Tony - her first date since Len's death - when he told her he and Bet were just friends. Rita and Bet were friends and when Bet found out Tony had stood her up to date Rita out, she accused Rita of getting her claws into him. Rita only wanted friendship from Tony but agreed to stop seeing him for Bet's sake. Tony, on the other hand, thought he had a good thing going with Rita and told Bet she was just a barmaid and they were all free agents. He then made arrangements to dine with Rita in a hotel on Christmas Eve, with the intent that they book a room for the night, but Rita wasn't ready to spend the night with a man so soon after Len. Tony realised Rita wasn't ready for a relationship and finished with her.
Tony also took Jack Duckworth to the police station when he admitted he'd given his name as Stan Ogden when the police caught Billy Walker serving at the Rovers after hours and booked the drinkers. It was only afterwards that Jack found out Stan had just died.