Played by: Helen Worth
First appeared: 12 July 1974
Gail is another character who Granada has let lead more than one life. Until 1979, and her mum's introduction to the Street, Gail would happily talk about her parents living back home together.
However, when the monster that is Audrey stepped onto the cobbles,
a far more exciting past was dreamed up for Gail, and she became
front runner in the race for The Street's "person with the
most emotional ups-and-downs".
She was now the product of a liaison
between her mum Audrey Potter,
and a man to Gail, and grew up without a father-figure and with
a mum who, to say the least, liked a man's company. It
wasn't until 2000, when Gail was 41 that Audrey finally told Gail
that her father was Ted Paige. After being forced to give up her
son Stephen at 16 for adoption, Audrey was distraught. She devised
a plan to get married and get Stephen back. The man she fancied,
Norman Jones, wasn't interested in her, but his best friend, soldier
Ted Paige was. She fell pregnant to Ted, but on the night she
intended to tell him, knowing he would propose marriage, Audrey
realised she didn't love him and couldn't spend the rest of her
life with him, so she broke off the relaionship. Ted went back
to army camp, unaware of Audrey's situation and was never seen
For most of the time Gail was brought up by her grandparents,
Robert and Nancy Potter. She went to Weatherfield High School,
and left with O-levels in English and Maths.
We first saw Gail on The Street working as a clerk in the Mark Brittain warehouse. In April 1975, she discovered that the man her mother was living with - Frank Peterson - wasn't her father, as she had been led to believe, and Gail walked out and moved into the shop flat to share with her co-worker and former schoolfriend Tricia Hopkins. Gail was plagued by nuisance telephone calls at the flat, and when phone engineer John Lane turned up one evening to try and catch the culprit, Gail realised it was him. Luckily, Emily Bishop saw him go in, her suspisions were aroused, and the police were called.
After the warehouse had burned down, Gail and Tricia worked in the corner shop, but when Renee Bradshaw bought the shop and flat in June 1976 she took over behind the counter and the girls were evicted from the flat. Gail was fortunate that this coincided with the return of Elsie Tanner. Elsie and Gail found work at Sylvia's Separates and both moved into Nº11. She lost her innocence to Roy Thornley in the stockroom at Sylvia's Separates, but unfortunately, he turned out to be married, and Gail was cited in a messy divorce case.
In December 1976, Sylvia's Separates was taken over by Mike Baldwin and re-named The Western Front. Elsie was moved from boutique manager to factory supervisor, and Gail was made manager with Suzie Birchall working underneath her, and by February 1977, Suzi had moved into Nº11, creating one of the Street's most celebrated female households.
In November 1978, Mike Balwin closed down The Western Front as it wasn't making money, but things looked up the next month when Brian Tilsley gatecrashed a party at Elsie's, and in January 1979 when Gail got a job working with Emily Bishop in Dawson's Cafe.
By April 1979 Brian and Gail were engaged. They were married
in the November and moved in with Brian's parents, Ivy
and Bert Tilsley at Nº5.
They scaped some money together, and in August 1980 moved into
a £13,000 'micro-bijou' (ie one-bedroomed !) house at No5
Buxton Close on the Whirlow Crescent estate. On New Year's Eve,
their son Nicky was born.
The Tilsley's marriage never seemed wholey secure, especially with the narcissistic Brian being given free reign by his doting mother, and it soon hit a rocky spot- before 1981 finished, Gail had been propositioned by Brian's friend Colin Jackson and Brian was dazzled by customer Glenda Fox. And in January 1982, Brian's boss Ron Sykes announced he was selling the business and moving it to the Persian Gulf. Faced with the prospect of working away or redundancy, the next month Brian went to work in Qatar. Gail made friends with neighbour Jackie Moffatt but soon got bored at home on her own, so Jackie agreed to babysit whilst Gail went back part-time to Jim Sedgewick's cafe (she had briefly worked there when it first opened in 1980) which was now being run by Jim's ex-wife Alma. In July, Brian announced he was staying on in the Gulf, extending his contract by another two months and Gail became very lonely and agreed to go for a lunchtime drink in the Farriers Arms with cafe customer Les Charlton. At the very same time, her son Nicky slipped away from temporary childminder Jill Mason and was later found in the newly-built No7. A distressed Gail thought about giving up her job, and although Les Charlton occasionally called round at Buxton Close afterwards, Gail always politely rebuffed him. Unfortunately, Les' last visit coincided with Brian's leave and he left Les in no doubt that he was not welcome. This prompted Brian to drop plans to return to Qatar, and in the ensuing row he admitted the he also had "had a drink" with a nurse after he cut his hand - but left Gail in no doubt that their friendship became a lot closer. In August 1982, using the £2,000 he had earned in Qatar, he opened a garage in partnership with Ron Sykes. For a while the Tilsley's were happy, and Brian became embarrased when Sharon Gaskell developed a crush on him.
In March 1983 things seemed to be going so well that Brian took out a bank loan and bought out Ron Sykes' share of the garage business. However, things started to go wrong - in the July Brian's dad Bert is seriously injured overinflating a tyre at the garage, and by the September the business was going downhill - Brian was forced to put the garage up for sale. He was talked out of selling by Gail and Mike Baldwin. Instead they swallowed their pride, sold the house in Buxton Close and moved back into No5 with Ivy.
The Tilsley's marriage now began to crumble. Gail and Ivy never got on, the strain of living under the same roof was telling, and when in August 1984, Gail was offered the job of manageress at Jim's Cafe, she took it - against the advice of Brian and Ivy, and annoyed them both. A couple of months later there was more friction when Brian found that Audrey's latest boyfriend, George Hepworth, had made a pass at Gail.
By April 1985, Gail couldn't take any more, left Brian and moved into a bedsit with Nicky. This finally prompted Brian to get a council house of their own, and Gail moved back in with him at 33 Hammond Road. Early in 1986, Brian's Australian cousin, Ian Latimer came over and stayed with Ivy at Nº5. Soon he and Gail were having an affair - even Audrey advised against this ! Gail confessed to Brian when she found she was pregnant and didn't know if Brian or Ian was the father !! Blood tests showed that Sarah Louise couldn't have been Ian's, but Brian's ego prevented him accepting Sarah Louise as his child, and he moved in with his new girlfriend, Liz Turnbull. Soon after, Brian divorced Gail.
Gail started seeing a carpenter, Jeff Singleton, and Brian didn't like the idea of this boyfriend being a stand-in father. After Brian's abortive "kidnap" attempt on Nicky, Brian and Gail got back together, he moved back into Hammond Road, and they eventually remarried in February 1988. But this relationship soon went downhill as Gail realised she had married too young, and Brian couldn't change his old-fashioned attitudes about wives and women. She asked for a divorce, and Brian's attempt to find himself some other female company one evening resulted in him being stabbed to death outside a nightclub in February 1989.
Alma Sedgewick returned to Weatherfield from Spain late in 1988, and in June 1989 offered Gail a 40% partnership in Jim's Cafe, which she bought. Martin Platt had been working at the cafe since 1985. To Gail's suprise, she found that Martin wasn't just getting on well with Nicky, only 12 years older than him, Gail herself was attracted to this 'lad' 11 years younger than her. When Gail finally broke down from the strain of her recent past, it was Martin who was there to comfort her, and a few kisses led to them ending up in bed together.
Much against Ivy and Audrey's wishes, she allowed Martin to move in with her. She became pregnant, and feeling that she could neither cope with another child, nor allow Martin to be tied down when he was so young, she went off to have an abortion. A frantic Martin caught her just as her train pulled out of the station, and consequently David was born on Christmas Day 1990. Gail and Martin married in September the following year. In December 1991, Martin bought Nº8 for a bargin price of £38,000, and the Platt family moved in.
Gail's emotional trials were still not over, though. When Martin studied to become a nurse, a fellow student Carmel Finnan (aka The nanny from Hell) moved in with them in late1992 and became besotted with Martin. After she told Gail that she was too old for him, Gail threw her out. A few weeks later Carmel returned, claiming to be pregnant by Martin, and she tried to kidnap David. A struggle with Gail ensued, and Carmel fell down the stairs. After she was rushed to hospital it was found she wasn't pregnant and her Irish grandfather arrived and explained about her mental history.
Throughout 1994, a tension built in the Platt household as Nicky started to refuse to acknowledge Martin as a "father", and drove a wedge between Martin and Gail. This came to a head when Martin, depressed and a little tipsy after Christmas celebrations at work, slept with nurse Cathy Power. Unfortunately for Martin, his father-in-law Alf Roberts happened to be touring the hospital on a mayoral visit at the time and caught them snogging. Alf and Martin kept it secret for a time, but after Audrey found out, Martin felt he had to confess to Gail. Gail took the betrayal very badly, and although they continued living in the same house, Martin and her hardly spoke for a couple of months. They were reconciled after spending a holiday in North Wales with the kids (and next to the Duckworths !).
However, tensions with Nick (as he then asked to be called) grew, and were considerably aggrevated by the death of Ivy in August 1995, who left virtually everything, including Nº5, to Nick - on the condition he changed his name back to Tilsley. Months of wrangling and bad feeling ensued, with Gail, Martin, Nick, Don and Josie at each others throats, and Audrey stiring for the sidelines. It wasn't until January 1996 when Gail, forever the peacemaker, eventually won the day for all concerned by getting Don to pay Nick £12,000 for the house.
Shortly after, Gail finally got to meet her half brother, Stephen Reid when he came to Weatherfield for a visit. Later in 1996, Martin and Gail's marriage is strained mainly due to conflict between Nick and Martin. Stephen invites the whole family to Canada for a holiday and Nick decides to stay in Canada to finish his schooling using the money he received from Don for Ivy's house. Roy Cropper begins working in the café at Gail's side when Alma wants to spend less time there and eventually, Alma sells her share in the café to Roy after she and Gail fall out over Stephen's decision to cancel his contract with Mike.
Gail and Roy get on quite well and things tick over as usual. Roy even presents Gail and Martin with a weekend in Paris using vouchers he has saved. Don lands in jail after attacking Mike but later is put in hospital with terminal cancer and asks to see Gail to make amends for all the anger and resentment he's had since Ivy's death. Don runs off from the hospital, attacks Mike and crashes Alma's car into the viaduct, killing himself. Nick returns from Canada for the funeral (now played by Adam Rickett). Nick takes up with Leanne Battersby, daughter of a loud and obnoxious family that moved into Number 5 after Don had vacated it for the jail.
Gail nearly pops an artery when Nick and Leanne elope to Scotland in January 1998. Brian's murderer is paroled from prison and because Nick had got in contact with him using Leanne's name, he starts skulking around. Gail urges Nick to report him to the police when things start to get out of control The killer, Darren Whately, is sent back to the nick.
Gail tires of the responsibility of the café and sells her share to Roy and his new lady, Hayley but continues to work there. The café moves location in 1999 to a new development on Victoria Street and is renamed Roy's Rolls. 1999 also sees the beginning of the end of Gail and Martin's marriage. Tension rises when Gail insists Martin have a vasectomy, because she had a pregnancy scare and does not want more children. Martin refuses and things are very cool between them. Soon, unbeknownst to Gail, Martin begins an affair with nurseRebecca Hopkins which carries over into 2000.
Before the truth can come out though, Gail's world already starts to crumble when she discovers that her daughter, Sarah, who has only just turned 13, is nearly 5 months pregnant! With her home life in disarray, Gail decides to stop working at the café. In June, Sarah gives birth to a baby girl, Bethany and decides to keep the baby rather than have her adopted. The truth about Martin's affair comes out soon after the baby's birth. Gail was devastated. She tried to hold her family together for a short while but it just wasn't working and she told Martin to leave.
Her marriage over, and jobless, Gail had to regroup. She took a computer course and landed a job at the local health centre on Rosamund Street. Life with growing children and a grandchild was a struggle though, and there were a lot of conflicts with David who reacted badly to the breakup and with Sarah who chafed at the responsibility of motherhood. Gail's best friend Alma died of cancer in 2001. At the funeral, Gail met a man who said he was Alma's cousin, Richard Hillman. They began a relationship and married in a lavish ceremony in July 2002.
Richard was a financial manager but sometimes conducted rather shady business deals. Eventually Richard's money troubles drove him to desperate measures. Gail remortgaged the house to help but had no idea that Richard killed his ex wife Patricia and their neighbour, Maxine Peacock as well as attempting to take control of Audrey's money by trying to kill her in a fire in her own house. Gail always believed Richard's lies but eventually discovered the truth. She and the children survived Richard's attempt to kill the whole family but Richard died. It was time for Gail to start over. Again.
But life never runs smoothly for Gail who returned to her former name, Platt. There was soon conflict with Sarah when Sarah took Bethany to move in with Todd Grimshaw. She tried to have Sarah declared an unfit mother and take Bethany away. When that didn't work, she and Sarah had no contact with each other for several months. They made up eventually and now, in 2004, Sarah is pregnant again, this time with Todd's baby.