Robert Darren Donovan is a fictional character of the British Soap opera Coronation Street.
He first appeared as a central character in 2012 and went on to serve as the anti-villain in 2013, the main antagonist in 2014, a minor antagonist in between 2015-2016 and an anti-hero in 2017.
He is portrayed by Marc Baylis.
Rob Donovan was born as the youngest brother to Carla Connor. When Carla had left home to marry Paul Connor, Rob was left alone to look after his drug addicted mother. which caused him to develop a dislike towards his sister, despite also missing her. Due to her drug addiction his mother got into debt with criminals around the area. Wanting to pay off his mother's debt, Rob got involved in a gang who planned to rob a bank, with Rob taking the role of getaway driver. But the job didn't go well, and Rob ended up being arrested by the authorities and was sentenced to eight years at Strangeways.
During his time in prison, Rob did keep some sort of contact with Carla also this was rare. When their mother passed away from a drug overdose in 2011, Rob informed Carla over the phone. Rob was given a day release from prison to attend the funeral, and according to Carla's recollections of the events Rob and the rest of the family were frosty towards her, due to her lack of contact with her mother.
Release from prison
Rob was released on parole in July 2012, and arrived at his sister's factory Underworld on Coronation Street. He witnessed a confrontation between Carla and her partner Peter Barlow at the factory, which caused Rob to jump in at Carla's defense and pin Peter towards the wall. Peter was confused as to who Rob was, until Carla revealed him to be her brother. Rob and Carla caught up at the Rovers Return, although it was still clear that he was raw about her abandoning him all those years ago. When Carla chose to leave Weatherfield with Peter, Rob agreed to run the factory until she returned. He began to run it along with old flame (and Carla's best friend) Michelle Connor. He also moved into Carla's flat, which she had abandoned due to being raped there by finance Frank Foster the year before.
During his time at the factory, Rob began to get acquainted with the local community and fitted in with the residents. He began to date barmaid Eva Price, although the relationship ended when she discovered him naked with a client.
Carla returned to Weatherfield in December 2012, but didn't intend to stick around long and wanted to sell up her home and the factory and start afresh with Peter. Rob wasn't too pleased at losing his livelihood and worked to try and get his hands on the factory. He doctored the books so that the value of the factory would be lowered and he can buy it. Although Carla temporarily left the United Kingdom (without Peter) for America, she returned not long afterwards and resumed running the factory, much to Rob and Michelle's concern. When Carla learned about what Rob had done, she sacked him. Feeling betrayed, Rob set up his own business and began to steal Underworld's clients. Carla folded and gave Rob his job back, as well as a 45% share of the company.
Relationship with Tracy Barlow
In 2013 Rob met Tracy Barlow, the sister of Peter, and the pair began dating. This caused disapproval with her family, especially her dad Ken, who believed that Rob wasn't good enough for Tracy. Rob used his influence at Underworld to get Tracy a job in packing.
In April 2013 Carla bought shares of Peter's bookies from his ex-wife Leanne Tilsley, in hopes of helping build the business back up due to the failing finances. Carla gave Rob a job at the bookies so he can help out, much to Peter's annoyance, as he didn't like having Rob around. Rob carried out alterations at the business against Peter's wishes, such as installing updated equipment. Rob was later forced out of the bookies by Peter, much to his anger. Rob began to fleet the bookies and placed bets, and had a lucky winning streak. Although Peter hoped to play Rob at his own game, Rob ended up having a huge winning, which caused Peter to bankrupt the business and end Barlow's Bookies. To avoid suing Peter, Rob and Tracy proposed that Peter gives him the property rent free for a year, allowing them to set up their own business, which Peter agrees. In October 2013, Rob and Tracy open up a business Barlow's Buys, which acts as a pawn shop.
Despite the tension with Carla, Rob didn't want to see her get hurt and before her wedding with Peter believed she was making a mistake. Carla ended up marrying Peter anyway, although during the reception got drunk. After the guests left, Rob shared a kiss with Tina McIntyre, whom Tracy had began a feud with. They decided not to take things any further.
Rob moved in with Tracy at her parents' house 1 Coronation Street at the beginning of 2014, although her mother Deirdre began to develop a distrust for Rob. When Tracy discovered Rob's fling with Tina, she kicked him out of the house, much to the smugness of Peter. Rob moved in with Carla and Peter at the Rosamund Street flat, and believed his relationship with Tracy was over. Carla tried to fix him up to dating Tina, but this didn't work and Tracy was angry to discover what was going on, which led to her starting to sell Rob's stuff at the shop. Rob met with Tracy and stated that the kiss was a mistake, and that he shouldn't be punished for it. Tracy realised Rob did love her and they reconciled their relationship, and ended up getting engaged.
Tracy and Rob began to work with local career criminal Tony Stewart, who brought them stolen goods to sell at the shop and make a profit. Although it was going well, Rob became worried bout breaking the law, scared that his parole officer may find out which would land him back at prison. Despite the concerns, he continued going along with Tony's scheme.
Becoming a murderer
Rob discovered that Peter had been involved in an affair with Peter for many months, but refused to say anything as he didn't want to upset Carla, and felt it was Peter's duty. Rob made threats towards Peter about his knowledge.
When attending the pub, Rob saw Tina go home early after being visibly distraught, due to Peter not wanting to start a new life with her. Rob followed Tina back to her flat above the builder's yard to offer support. But the situation turned ugly fast as Tina threatened to expose the affair with Peter. Tina fled from Rob onto the builder's yard balcony, and during a struggle between the pair Tina fell off the edge and onto the street below. Rob believed that Tina was killed, and began to panic, resulting in him cleaning away his fingerprints in the flat and trashing the place to make it look like a robbery. When fleeing, he realised Tina was still alive as she got to her feet. Rob was relieved and offered to get her medical help, but an enraged Tina accused Rob of trying to murder her, and that will be bringing down his entire world by exposing his dodgy dealings at his shop, as well as his "attempted murder" on her, which will guarantee an extended prison sentence. Seeing red, Rob grabbed a nearby blunt oject and began to bludgeon Tina over the head, not wanting to return to prison.
When Tina was discovered, Rob feigned being shocked at the incident, although was unnerved when he discovered she survived the attack and was in hospital. Much to Rob's relief, Tina passed away from her injuries, although he did feel regret for the incident and struggled to contain his emotions. When Tina's mother Ann visited the Rovers after her daughter's death, Rob gave his condolences. During Tina's funeral, and angry Rob got into a fight with Peter by the graveside, accusing him of being the killer.
During the police investigation, Peter ended up becoming the prime suspect in Tina's murder. Peter was later held on remand at the prison whilst the trial was being prepared. Rob believed that Peter deserved the sentence due to his past history and the way he has treated people. Peter was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison. This allowed Rob to hopefully move on with his life, and he began to plan his wedding to Tracy, feeling it would be a good distraction. But on his stag night (with only Carla attending), a suspicious Carla kept lamenting that she wasn't convinced Peter was actually Tina's killer. Due to Rob's reaction and struggling to keep his guilt under control, Carla knew her brother was responsible for killing Tina. Despite his act, she comforted her brother and offered to be by his side if he goes to the authorities. Rob begs Carla not to shop him to the police, as his life will be ruined and he will be an old man by the time he is released. Carla is skeptical, but "agrees" to keep quiet and allow Rob to get married.
But on the wedding day, Carla has a private word with Rob and reveals that she has called the police, and begs him to remain for them to arrive and assures him she will be there for him. But Rob panics and ends up fleeing the scene before the police arrive and goes into hiding. He makes contact with Tracy and they plan to flee the country together. But Tracy has a change of heart and doesn't want to leave behind her daughter Amy. She lures Rob to an abandoned building which is revealed to be a sting, and Rob is taken into custody by the police. Tracy is remorseful for Rob's arrest but reveals that it is for the best as she has her family to take care of. An bitter an emotionally wrecked Rob is taken away by the police.
He was later sentenced to 25 years in prison, the extension due to him allowing Peter to be wrongfully convicted. Rob's exposure allowed Peter to be freed from prison. An angry Rob refused contract from either Tracy or Carla due to their "betrayal" and made sure they couldn't reach him in prison.
A year into his sentence a bored and envious Rob read about Johnny Connor's deal at Underworld in the newspaper. He sent out a visiting order to Tracy and saw her for the first time in 12-months. He lied to Tracy claiming that he missed her and prison was rough. This was a scheme to break up her relationship with Robert Preston. Rob claimed that he was going to get a retrial due to evidence apartment coming to light proving he was innocent. Tracy believed Rob's claims as she went through a similar incident which helped her get free years prior, and planned to leave Robert to be with Rob. Rob also took to blackmailing Johnny Connor, revealing he knew he was actually Carla's biological father. Carla found out the truth and revealed it to Johnny's kids, putting a stop to Rob's blackmailing.
Rob managed to break up Tracy and Robert's relationship and revealed to Tracy that he lied, causing her to try and attack him in the prison and be forcefully dragged away by guards, much to Rob's amusement.
But things didn't work out well for Rob, as Carla visited him in prison, and revealed to Rob that when he does get out eventually, not to bother trying to track her down and make amends, making it clear their relationship was over. This left Rob a broken man, having alienated those close to him.
A year later, Rob found out about a drug operation being carried out in the prison, and chose to redeem himself by testifying. This caused him to be marked for retaliation by those involved, so the authorities arranged Rob to be transferred to a safer and secure prison. During the ride there, the prison truck containing Rob ended up crashing into the sea, leaving it unknown if Rob survived. Rob had managed to escape and went on the run as he feared for his life. He returned to Coronation Street to try and get help from Carla, only to discover she was no longer living in the area. He bumped into Tracy in the ginnel, and she helped him shelter at the abandoned gym.
Rob apologised for his previous actions, and was grateful for Tracy helping him out. They planned on going on the run along with Tracy's daughter Amy, and they fled to the Lake District (with Rob hiding in the trunk of the car). Around this time Tracy was suspected in pushing her father Ken down the stairs. When Amy was a suspect, Tracy lied to the police and was arrested, which allowed Rob and Amy to escape. Amy ran away from Rob, and she was nearly picked up by a sinister man in a car, but Rob stepped in to save her. Although Rob had an opportunity to flee the country and start a new life, he instead returned to Weatherfield with Amy in tow, and revealed to the court Tracy wasn't responsible for Ken's accident as she was with him at the time. Rob returned to custody and was prepared to be transferred to the prison. He shared one last intimate moment with Tracy before leaving.
- Since Carla's debut in December 2006, she had always referenced to a brother named "Darren". However, upon his debut in July 2012, he was given the first name Rob, with Darren as his middle name.