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Villain Overview
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I killed for you, Gail! Would any man you've ever known do that? Did Brian or Martin love you that much? They didn't even love you enough to stay with you. They betrayed you, like most men do, with their seedy little affairs. I would never do that to you, if you live for a thousand years, you'll never find anyone who loves you more than me.
~ Richard attempting to justify his actions to wife Gail.
You should have stayed at the party Maxine.
~ Richard's most infamous quote - and one of the show's most famous lines of all-time - as he is discovered by Maxine Peacock shortly before killing her.
This is it! I LOVE YOU!!
~ Richard's last words before he unintentionally commits suicide in a failed last-ditch resolve to kill his entire stepfamily after kidnaping them.

Richard "Charles" Hillman is a fictional character and recurring antagonist of the British soap opera Coronation Street.

He first appeared in June 2001 and was the show's main antagonist until 14th March 2003. He also served as a posthumous antagonist from the following years due to his reign of villainy developing a huge impact on the iconic Platt Family.

He was portrayed by Brian Capron

Development

Introduced as the alleged cousin of Alma Halliwell in June 2001, Richard developed a close relationship with Alma's close friend Gail Platt and they eventually got married in July 2002.

At first Richard appeared to be a successful financial adviser and a good family man, but secretly had debt problems and a shady past. Ultimately, despite living the apparent perfect family life with Gail and her children Sarah and David altogether, Richard went to extreme measures to get out of his monetary difficulties - which consequently led to his involvement in the deaths of three people; as Richard left his business partner Duggie Ferguson to die after the latter fell off a bannister and later murdered his ex-wife Patricia Hillman in 2002, before ultimately killing local resident Maxine Pollack in 2003 and managing to briefly implicate Sarah's troublesome ex-boyfriend Aidan Critchley behind the crime. Over the course of these events, Richard attempted to kill Gail's mother Audrey Roberts and her longtime friend Emily Bishop; with the former attempt leading to a wedge-issue with Audrey after she discovered his true colors, and the latter attempt indirectly staging the events of Maxine's murder.

Once his deceit and murderous crimes were finally revealed to Gail on the night she and Richard were due to leave Weatherfield to start anew in February 2003, Richard went into hiding and became the most wanted person in the UK. In March 2003, however, Richard secretly returned with the intent of committing suicide and killing his family. After kidnapping Gail and her children alongside Sarah's infant granddaughter Bethany altogether, Richard tried to gas them before driving them into a canal when Gail's ex-husband and David's father Martin discovered this and gave chase. However, although the family managed to escape before being rescued by Martin and his friends, Richard himself died after drowning in the canal and his body was later identified by Gail and Audrey. The follow-up of Richard's death saw Gail being the only person to attend his funeral as a way of closing the chapter on their history. Despite his demise, however Richard's memory cast a shadow over the Platt family for over a decade to come - up to the point where the extent of his villainous deeds caused David to go down a dark path.

Although not the first killer or original villain to appear in the show, Richard Hillman was the first regular character to become a murderer.

Biography

Background

Richard Hillman was a financial adviser who arrived for the funeral of his cousin Alma, and began a relationship with Gail and later moved in with her. Richard ran a property business called "Kellett Holdings", which specializes in buy-back mortgages as he buys the house and the occupant would stay there until they die - after which he gets it all on his own.

He began to turn shady after going into business partnership with the pub landlord Duggie Ferguson doing property developing. After a disagreement at one of the flats, Duggie falls down a flight of stairs and dies; Richard initially started to phone an ambulance, but he then chose not to help Duggie and instead robbed him before leaving the body to be found the next morning. Duggie's death is ruled as an accident and Richard appears to have got away with it after his funeral.

Richard the Killer

When planning to marry Gail, his ex-wife Patricia turns up wanting Richard to buy back her share of Kellett Holdings. After a disagreement at the building site, Richard kills her with a shovel and buries her body under concrete. He and Gail later get married before taking her children on a honeymoon in Florida.

Following his honeymoon with Gail and her children, however, Richard found himself in dire financial straits when his business suffers a huge problem; a bail hostel is being proposed to be developed in the same road where Richard's business is being managed, thereby sparking trouble with his clients. After learning that Gail's mother Audrey Roberts had recently inherited £250,000 from an old acquaintance of hers, Richard planned to kill her for her money. He sets her house on fire one night, but she survived and eventually learned that Richard was behind it. But by then Richard had managed to cover this up in an earlier plot that saw him sabotage Audrey's daily routine, in a successful plot to make everyone around her believe that she had Alzheimer's Disease. This caused Gail and her family to disbelieve Audrey's claims that Richard is responsible for all the troubles that she recently endured.

When Audrey changes her will to ensure that Richard doesn't extract her inheritance in case he tries to murder her again, Richard resolves to target her longtime friend and elderly neighbour Emily Bishop - as she had sold her house to him. Richard later plans to kill Emily on Christmas Night 2002 in order to take control of her residence. He attempted to do so by smothering her with a pillow, but was forced to quickly abort this when her companion Rita Fairclough arrived in just the nick of time to put Richard's plan to a halt; Richard managed to hide his intentions from Rita by claiming he was just checking on Emily to see if she was getting better.

In January 2003, Richard seeks his chance to kill Emily when she agrees to babysit infant baby Joshua Peacock on behalf of his father Ashley whilst the latter is attending the 50th birthday part of his mother-in-law Doreen - with Ashley's father Fred Elliot hosting the event. While everybody is at the party that night, Richard slipped out and broke into the Peacock's house where Emily is watching television. He sneaks up on Emily and hits her on the head with a crowbar, with the intent of making the incident looking like a robbery. But the mother of the child she was babysitting, Maxine, returned home to check up on him, and he was forced to kill her. This caused him guilt, as she wasn't planned. And to add insult to injury, one of his other clients die, and got hold of her house - so there was no need for trying to kill Emily and murdering Maxine. He also learned that Emily had survived the attack, but Richard once again covered his tracks by framing Aidan Critchley - the ex-boyfriend of Gail's daughter Sarah - for the incident, as he wanted to get revenge on Aidan for hospitalizing Sarah in a car accident a year ago.

When Maxine's funeral occurred, Richard delivered a heartfelt speech that further helped gain the community's respect in him. But Audrey deduced that Richard killed Maxine, and together with her friends Archie Shuttlesworth and Norris Cole resolved to try and bring him to justice - albeit with little success due to insufficient evidence according to the police.

On the night Richard and Gail were due to leave Weatherfield to start a new life away with her children together, Gail got suspicious and Richard confessed his crimes to her. Gail calls him "Norman Bates with a Briefcase" and tells Richard their marriage is finished. Richard fled the street as his crimes became public knowledge, but he returned two weeks later and bound and gagged his family when intending to gas them in the garage. However, they where disrupted by Gail's ex-husband Martin Platt and Audrey herself. They discovered what Richard was doing, so he drove the car away. Martin and his friends gave chase and saw Richard driving the car in the canal. The family where saved, but Richard had drowned to death with his body later being identified by Gail and Audrey. The following weeks saw Gail attend Richard's funeral.

Legacy

Despite his death, Richard's presence would be felt in the street, especially around the Platt family, for many years to come. The trauma he caused to Gail's youngest son David would ensure the lad would go down a psychotic route and become villainous as he blamed Gail for letting Richard into their lives.

In 2006, cards began being sent to the Platt family, apparently from the deceased Richard. The first card was to Sarah for her birthday. Cards began coming through the post for the first few months. Cab driver Les Battersby then claimed he had given Richard a ride in his taxi, however this was just down to Les getting in on the gossip. Gail began suspecting David of being the card sender, so told him it was Richard's birthday coming up. On the day of Richard's "birthday" she received a card from Richard saying he will see her soon, which of course confirmed her suspicions, and she revealed to a shocked David that Richard's birthday was actually in December.

In November 2010 in a Coronation Street DVD Spin-off Knight's Tale, Richard's cousin Dickie appeared (played by Brian Capron as well) and this caused Norris Cole to become unnerved due to their striking resemblance. Dickie also referred to his family's love for the water, a joking reference to Richard driving into the canal.

In 2018, Gail visited her arch-rival Eileen Grimshaw to comfort the latter over a similar ordeal; Eileen had married a nefarious builder called Pat Phelan, who murdered their common lover Michael Rodwell and three other people whilst also committing rape and fraud on separate accounts. While trying to help Eileen move on from Phelan and the trouble he caused her, Gail reminds her that she herself went through the same situation with Richard in the past.

Soon after Phelan's death, Audrey's former fiancé and conman Lewis Archer made a surprise return to the street to scam Gail again. Lewis was aided by his conspirator Rosemary Piper and he had her convince Gail that Richard Hillman had posthumously put a curse on her family. Rosemary was able to get Gail to pay £3000 pounds for a session in return for her "removing" Richard's "curse" from the family for good. But the scam was eventually exposed thanks to Gail's friend Roy Cropper, who had Rosemary jailed while Lewis would later be killed-off months later. After Lewis' funeral, Gail brings up Richard again by comparing their fraudulent history before mentioning how the only difference was that Richard was a serial killer and Lewis was not.

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Trivia

  • Prior to playing Richard Hillman, Brian Capron played a social worker called Don Worthington between 1981 to 1986.
  • Originally it was intended for Richard Hillman to go to prison, but Brian Capron wasn't in favor for that option so it was decided to kill off the character instead.
  • The newspapers published claims in 2005 that Richard Hillman would make a reappearance in 2006, and that the body Gail identified wasn't his. However this was false rumor, and although there was a storyline that involved the Platt family being harassed by cards signed from "Richard", this was her son David Platt.
  • The popularity of the Richard Hillman storylines has led to similar plots involving local antagonists turning into killers, including John Stape, Karl Munro, Gary Windass, Pat Phelan, and Tony Gordon.
    • This also applies to Doctor Paul Browning from Hollyoaks, as well as both Lucas Johnson and later Gray Atkins from EastEnders.
  • Brian Capron briefly reprised the character as part of a Halloween Tour at the Coronation Street set in October 2014.
  • After the return of Lewis Archer in June 2018, some people thought it was actually Richard Hillman.
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