Coronation Street Past And Present Wiki
Advertisement

Norris Benjamin Cole was a character in Coronation Street who first appeared in Ep 3670 - 11 Mar 1994. Norris has a habit of being a busybody. He is known as "Nozza" to some, and he does not like that nickname. Norris' latest appearance was Ep 9320/9321 (8 Dec 2017). He made return appearances from May to June 2019 as part of his exit and left in Ep 9789/9790 (7 Jun 2019). Mary did a hideous rendition of Miss You Nights by Cliff Richard as Norris left. Norris later returned and moved into Stillwaters retirement home with Freda, and made his final appearance in Ep 10079 (24 Jun 2020). Norris was killed off in September 2021 as dying in hospital after a stroke, aged 81.

He is played by Malcolm Hebden.

Biography[]

Backstory[]

Norris Benjamin Cole was born on the 5th March 1940 in Weatherfield to Mr. Cole and Eunice Mary Cole. Norris had an older half brother Ramsay Clegg who had been adopted as a baby in 1935. In 1960, Norris' half brother Ramsay visited Norris and his mum but she turned him away. Eunice died in January 1961 aged 46. Norris blamed Ramsay for her death. They clashed at their mums funeral. Ramsay then got the next available flight back to Australia, cutting all ties with Norris for the next 48 years. In 1961, Norris visited Darlington. Norris later married Myrtle Hargreaves but they never had any children. Norris was a friend of Derek Wilton.

1994-1997[]

Norris in 1994.

Norris first met Derek when he gave him a lift home when Derek broke down on the motorway. Norris later turned up at Derek's home at Coronation Street and said that he had left his way. He temporarily moves in with Derek and his wife Mavis, who doesn't take a liking to Norris. Norris later meets Angela Hawthorne, the ex-wife of Derek, and they later marry in 1995. Norris moves in with her also still made occasional visits to the street.

Norris and Derek were rivals, mainly due to Norris running a successful firm and Derek still being at the bottom and less than lucky. Norris also played a prank on Derek prior to his marriage to Angela by stealing Derek's gnome and sending postcards claiming to be from around the world. Derek discovered Norris was responsible on Norris' stag night when finding the gnome hidden in his cupboard. Derek got his revenge by making Norris almost late for his wedding.

Following Derek's death in 1997 Norris visited the street for the funeral, although gave an insensitive eulogy about Derek during the service and even pronounced his name incorrectly, oblivious to Mavis' feelings. Following the funeral he returned home and wouldn't have anything to do with Coronation Street for a further two years, mainly due to having little reason to visit in that time.

1999-2020[]

Norris returns to Coronation Street in 1999, which would become his permanent home the following year.

In late 1999 Norris moved into Coronation Street and helped run The Kabin with Rita Sullivan after she recognised him in early December as he was a sales rep, selling chewing gun. Norris gained a reputation for being a busybody, always making assumptions on his neighbours affairs and secrets once they became common knowledge.

One time he made assumptions about serial killer Richard Hillman and Richard lured him to the top floor of a hotel, and then threatened him near the grand staircase which had a huge drop.

Norris comes into conflict with killer Richard Hillman.

He said if Norris gossips about him anymore he will kill him. When the likes of Audrey Roberts and Archie Shuttleworth become suspicious that Richard is not all that he claims to be, especially after Audrey claimed Richard tried to kill her in a house fire, they rally together to work against him. Although their assumptions on Richard's darker nature is true, the rest of the street (including Richard's wife Gail, who is Audrey's daughter) believe Richard is a decent man. After Maxine Peacock is murdered at her home Norris and co believe he is guilty and when Richard gives an eulogy at the funeral they believe he will confess, but Richard doesn't. Their beliefs are confirmed true when Richard confessed to the murder of Maxine among others in February 2003. The following month Norris and other residents witnessed Richard driving off with the kidnapped Platts, and altered the Rovers to the killer's return. Richard later drowned when attempting to kill the Platts, who all survived.

In 2005 Norris took writer Mel Hutchwright in, who had visited their book club at the cafe. Norris and the other members assumed Mel was a struggling artist as he needed funding for his new book and agreed to help pay for it, although Ken Barlow was suspicious. Norris and the other members gave Mel cheques, although Ken exposed Mel's true nature and that he was a conman that he fleeced other book clubs across the country and had been in prison. A heartbroken and betrayed Norris banished Mel from the cafe, although they didn't take their money back. Mel then left the street never to be seen again. That same year Norris bought a share into the cafe, as he wanted to secure his future after he got a scare when believing Rita was dead. Around this time his ex-wife Angela returned to offer Norris a job opportunity, but he turned her down. In 2007 Angela died and Norris attended the funeral, and met and befriended some of her short-lived ex-husbands.

In 2008 factory owner Tony Gordon wanted to buy up the Kabin as he wanted to expand the Underworld factory. Norris wasn't interested but Rita was keen, as she thought about finally retiring. Norris attempted to get local business owner Dev Alahan to stand with him on the matter as he viewed Dev a small-time business owner like him. Dev took offense to this and refused to stand by Norris, as Dev had admired Tony for his ambitions. Despite Tony's attempts, Rita decided in the end to not sell the shop, which ruined Tony's opportunities for expanding his empire.

Norris began to take part in competitions but lost out to a fellow competitor named Mary Taylor. He contacted Mary and they met at the pub and befriended each other, although Norris wanted them to remain just friends. This would lead him to be teased by Emily's new lodger Jed Stone, who Norris took a disliking to. In 2009 Mary's mother "died", which allowed her freedom. She planned to go travelling in her campervan and asked Norris to come along. He thought over the idea, although got spooked when he had dinner with Mary in the campervan and she attempted to make a pass at him. Norris decided not to go and Mary left on her own, and he felt regret. On the same day of Mary's departure an old face from the past turned up expectantly, which was his long-lost half-brother Ramsay Clegg. Ramsay turned up at the Rovers and Norris was unnerved and confused by his presence. Ramsay stated that he wanted to catch up but Norris wouldn't hear of it and later accused Ramsay of "having blood on his hands".

Norris isn't happy to come face-to-face with his long-lost brother Ramsay Clegg after almost five decades.

Over the course of the summer Ramsay had made numerous attempts to reconcile with him, but Norris wasn't interested and still couldn't understand why he chose to come into his life after nearly five decades. Norris revealed to Rita and Emily that his mother had died after Ramsay originally come back into her life back in 1961, which he put down to the stress and shame of her past. Although Norris couldn't stand Ramsay he himself became popular with the residents, especially Emily who grew strong feelings for him. The only person who couldn't be bothered with Ramsay with Emily's niece Freda Burgess, who found Ramsay's constant need of trying to please others insufferable, especially when he tried to communicate to her in sign language which she found patronising. In August 2009 Ramsay made one last ditch effort to make amends with Norris and planned to buy a flat for them to move into. Norris had enough of Ramsay and wanted him gone for good. Ramsay gave up and left Weatherfield, not wanting to come between Norris and his friends, and the two brothers parted ways, which even brought emotion out of Norris. A few days later Norris was notified by the police that Ramsay died on the way back to Australia, and that all along he had a brain tumour. Norris was overcome with shock. Emily laid into Norris and told him that he was a selfish little man. The words stung Norris and he left the house and visited his mother's grave.

After Ramsay's passing Norris discovered that he was left Ramsay's estate which was a large sum of money, as well as a bunch of letters. Norris read the letters and was shocked to find that Ramsay had made many attempts to communicate with him back in 1960 (before his return) but their mother had always sent it back. This also showed that Ramsay's return was not just out of the blue after all. This caused Norris to break down in tears as he regretted the way he treated Ramsay and missed out a chance to know his brother properly.

In October 2009 Norris decided to use the inheritance to buy the Kabin from Rita, as Ramsay's passing made her realise life was too short and she wanted to travel. Norris became the proud owner of the Kabin, with only his name over the door. In December 2009 Freda returned and got involved with Norris in his competitions, and they won £1000, which they split in half between them. Freda put the money towards a home in Edinburgh, and Norris and Emily saw her off in January 2010. That same day Mary returned, although she seemed envious of Norris' "relationship" with Freda until Norris put her straight they were just friends. In March Rita returned and started working for Norris at the Kabin, although kept behaving like she was the boss.

In May 2010 Norris went on holiday to a cottage with Mary, but it turned into a nightmare when Mary began acting unstable. When Norris tried to escape her hurt his ankle, and Mary held him at the cottage against his will like something out of Misery, and refused to get help. Norris tried to find Mary's phone and found she brought her wedding dress with her. Norris later 'spotted' Mary talking to her 'dead' mother, and claiming that her and Norris will be getting married. Norris confronted Mary and she revealed she was speaking into an ear phone. Norris managed to alert the police and escaped the property. Although Mary was taken into custody and questioned she was later released, and it turned out she lied about her mother being dead. Norris avoided Mary for a couple of weeks, but he put the incident behind him when they bonded over gossip during Gail McIntyre's trial when she was accused of the murder of her husband Joe McIntyre. Gail was found not guilty, which delighted Mary as she won a bet she had with Norris over the verdict.

In December 2015 Norris was upset when Emily had decided to leave Coronation Street to see her nephew Spider Nugent in Peru for a few months and felt she was too old to travel there to do charity work. But he eventually accepted Emily's wishes and along with their other friends saw her off in the New Year. After her departure, it was clear Norris was lonely in the house. He began taking on lodgers, such as Sean Tully and Brian Packham, as well as Kirk Sutherland who briefly stayed with Norris after falling out with his wife Beth in June 2016. When Emily began to stay in Peru longer than expected, Norris began selling some of her stuff on her request.

When Emily returned to the United Kingdom in January 2018 and went to stay with her niece Freda Burgess, Norris went and stayed with them. During this time Norris and Freda entered into a relationship, and after spending a year with them he decided to start a new life away from the street. Wanting to travel with Freda and Emily he decided to sell up the Kabin, which stunned Rita. Norris returned to the street in May 2019 after being away for sixteen months, and wanted a divorce from Mary so he could marry Freda. Mary felt betrayed and planned to stop this from happening, but in the end she decided to respect Norris and granted him a divorce. Norris sold up Number 3 and in June 2019 he left Coronation Street after 25 years on and off, stating that he would miss it. He returned back to Edinburgh with Freda.

In October 2019 Norris returned to attend Ken Barlow's birthday at the Rovers Return. Two months later in December, Norris was in the area looking for a place for him and Freda to live, and passed Rita. He later joined her for a quick chat.

Norris' final appearance on-screen.

Norris and Freda moved into the Stillwaters retirement complex, and were joined by Ken in March 2020, although Ken would later move back to Coronation Street. Norris paid one final visit to Coronation Street in June 2020 when he celebrated VA Day with Rita, Ken and Audrey. When Rita went up to the bar Norris jokingly predicted that she would get herself a vodka and tonic, before then giving them a rendition of Vera Lynn. This brought some chuckles around the table, and Norris watched his old friend Rita and smiled on, which would mark his final scene in the series. He returned back to Stillwaters afterwards, in which he served as chairman on the committee. Although he and Freda are still together they decided at that time to put their wedding on hold in order to settle down properly.

2021 Death[]

In September 2021, Ken and Rita went to the hospital where Norris was taken to after suffering a stroke. Freda met them outside the main entrance to say Norris had just died. He was 81. Norris' funeral was held a few days later, and the Kabin paperboy Statue was destroyed, as before Norris died, he said there was something important inside, but it was nothing.

Relationships[]

Family[]

Norris' mother died in January 1961. It is unknown what became of his father, although he was presumably dead by the time Norris arrived on Coronation Street. The only known surviving member of Norris' family when he arrived in 1994 was his half-brother Ramsay Clegg, although Norris hadn't seen him since 1961 when Norris blamed Ramsay for causing their mother's death, and Norris never spoke of Ramsay until he turned up on the street in 2009. Norris found it hard to forgive his brother and made it clear there was no chance of reconciliation despite Ramsay trying hard for three months to form a relationship with Norris. Norris came to regret this when it was discovered Ramsay was dying of a brain tumour, and he passed away on his flight back to Australia.

Before arriving on the street Norris was married to Myrtle Hargreaves, but he left her in 1994 after meeting Derek Wilton and deciding to move to Weatherfield. Norris married a second time to Angela Hawthorne, Derek's ex-wife, although they ended up divorcing in 1999 after four years of marriage.

Derek and Mavis Wilton[]

Derek Wilton was the reason Norris came to Weatherfield in the first place. When Derek was stranded at a petrol station Norris gave him a lift home. Norris decided to leave his wife and move in briefly with the Wiltons, although later moved away to another part of Weatherfield and married Derek's ex-wife Angela. Norris and Derek were "frenemies", whilst they were friends they also had conflict with each other, mainly due to Norris being a lot more successful than Derek at the company they were employed at, and Norris going out his way to annoy Derek. This involved him kidnapping Derek's gnome in 1995 and sending him postcards from different locations around the globe as a prank. Norris wanted Derek to be his best man at his wedding to Angela, although Derek got revenge on the day by making Norris nearly late for his wedding. Following Derek's death from a heart attack in 1997, Norris spoke at Derek's funeral although showed disrespect for his late friend/rival, which disgusted Derek's widow Mavis, who couldn't stand Norris. Ironically enough, Norris would become Mavis' successor at the Kabin in 1999, following her departure from the street.

Rita Sullivan/Tanner[]

Norris came to work for Rita at the Kabin in 1999, and replaced Mavis Wilton, who had left two years previously. This formed a new double act, with Rita once again being the witty straight man of the relationship and being tired of Norris' bumbling around and nosy behaviour with the neighbours. Despite this they were still close friends, and Norris felt loyalty to Rita and looked out for her. In 2007 Norris developed romantic feelings for Rita and proposed to her, although she gently turned him down. In 2009 she sold the Kabin to Norris with the intent to retire, although returned the following year and still acted like she ruled the roost. Norris sold the Kabin to Brian Packham in 2018 when he decided to retire, which made Rita feel cheated as he didn't discuss it with her first. Despite this, they still kept on good terms when he made visits to the street in 2019 and 2020.

Emily Bishop[]

Norris became Emily's new lodger in 2000, somehwat acting as the successor to her previous nosy and cankerous neighbor Percy Sugden, who left the street the same year as Mavis. Like Rita, Norris was overly protective of Emily and mistrusted any other man that came into her life that he perceived as a possible threat. This caused him to clash with Richard Hillman in 2002 when he (correctly) deduced Richard wanted to kill Emily. But sometime Norris' protective nature was wrongful, as he didn't trust the likes of Freda Burgess, Ray Langton and Jed Stone who would come to stay with Emily, even though they never intended to exploit her. Although Emily could be quite friendly and even meek, she still didn't let Norris control her and would be quite stern with him and call him out if he took things too far. In 2013 she sold the house to him, although made sure that she would live there rent free and he had to pay for the maintenance. When Emily left the street at the beginning of 2016 to volunteer in Peru, Norris felt lonely and missed her. He reunited with Emily when he went to stay with her and Freda in 2018 when she moved to Edinburgh.

Mary Taylor[]

Norris met Mary Taylor in November 2008. She was initially his competition rival, but when they met up they developed a close friendship, despite a 30 year age gap between the pair. Although Norris was fine with keeping their relationship as good friends, Mary developed an obsessive crush on Norris and tried to make a pass at him in May 2009. When she went to travel the world he decided to stay behind, although she returned to the street several months later. Her obsession with Norris grew unhealthy and she kept him against his will at a cottage when they took a prize holiday together. The incident caused Norris to be scared of Mary and wanting to call an end to their friendship, but he later forgave her and they became good friends. He supported her in 2016 when he found out she had been raped in the past and had an illegitimate son named Jools Creme, who Norris helped her reconcile with. The pair married in 2017, although this was for winning a competition intended for couples. They divorced in 2019 when Norris moved away to marry Freda, although they kept on good terms despite Mary feeling betrayed by Norris at first.

Freda Burgess[]

Freda is the deaf niece of Emily. They first met when Freda and Emily made contact in August 2005 and Freda came to stay with them. Norris was mistrusting of Freda and believed she was only there for Emily's money, which was untrue. Freda got fed up with Norris and decided to return home, much to Emily's anger. When Freda visited in 2009, their relationship soothed, especially as both Norris and Freda shared their annoyance for Norris' brother Ramsay, who was too keen to please when he attempted to do sign language with Freda. When Freda made a further visit a few months later, she became Norris' new competition buddy due to the absence of Mary and they won £1000, which they split between them. In 2018 Norris went to stay with Freda and Emily in Edinburgh when Emily returned from Peru. He developed a close relationship with Freda and they ended up getting engaged to each other. In 2020 they moved into a retirement complex, with the intention to one day get married when things settle.

Rivals[]

Norris' nosy and interfering nature caused a lot of conflict with some residents, notably male ones. In 2002 he came into conflict with dodgy financial advisor Richard Hillman and became convinced Richard intended to kill Emily for her money. Although Norris was correct in his deductions about Richard, many of the residents didn't believe him due to Norris' nature. His only allies in the fight against Hillman around this period was Audrey Roberts and Archie Shuttleworth, who had worked out Richard wasn't all he seemed. Richard was exposed as a killer in February 2003, and died the following month when trying to drown him family in a canal. Despite being proven right, Norris took no pleasure in being correct, as Richard nearly killed Emily and murdered young mother Maxine Peacock, a neighbour on the street for several years.

In 2011 Norris came to dislike Rita's former flame Dennis Tanner, who returned to the street homeless after 43 years. When Rita invited Dennis into her home Norris suspected that Dennis was a freeloader and just there to be kept. Dennis attempted to rebuff Norris claims and eventually got a job as a lollipop man and did shifts in the Kabin, although this didn't sooth Norris' soften to Dennis and he would occasionally make digs at him. Norris was envious when Dennis and Rita got engaged in 2012, although attempted to put on a brave face due to her being his friend. On the wedding day when Rita went missing (having been kidnapped by Rick Neelan), Norris taunted Dennis claiming Rita had jilted him, which caused a spat between the pair. Dennis and Rita's wedding went ahead when she was saved by police. In February 2014 Dennis ended up leaving Rita and running off with Gloria Price, and Norris supported Rita. He wasn't happy when Dennis returned a couple of months later wanting to make up for what he had done, and feared Rita would take him back. Dennis decided to leave the street for good in July 2014. He got into a final conflict with Norris when Dennis stopped by the Kabin, which resulted in Dennis punching Norris out. Dennis tried to steal from the till as revenge, but was caught out by Rita, who banished Dennis from the street for good.

Norris briefly came into a conflict with crooked builder Pat Phelan in 2016. Phelan got revenge by sabotaging the tiles on Norris' roof. Norris later hired Phelan to fix the roof, and no more came from their rivalry. Thank goodness, as Phelan would later develop a knack for locking up men in his basement of horrors.

Hobbies and Interests[]

To be added

Personality[]

When he originally arrived on the street Norris was a confident and eccentric businessman, who was at the time blessed with luck in life. This put him at loggerheads with his friend/rival Derek Wilton, as Derek suffered bad luck in his life and Norris always outdid him. Norris was also shown to be a prankster, as he stole Derek's gnome and held it for ransom, sending Derek postcards from the gnome at different destinations across the globe. Norris was also shown to be insensitive, as he showed a lack of respect at Derek's funeral despite claiming to be his best friend and made a mockery out of it.

Upon his return Norris was portrayed as a bumbling nosy gossip, with his good luck no longer around. He would make it his business to interfere in the lives of the residents and set them straight. This would cause him to develop a friendship with the acid tongued Blanche Hunt, although they would often try and outdo each other on who can get the most juiciest gossip.

Despite Norris' nosy and annoying nature, he was shown to be loyal and caring for his friends, especially Emily Bishop (who he lived with) and Rita Sullivan (who he worked with). He defended Emily against dodgy financial advisor Richard Hillman, which caused Norris to put his own life at risk and Richard was a serial killer. He was also supportive of Rita during her troubles. In 2007 he was revealed to have an attraction to her and he proposed to her, although she turned him down. They still remained friends over the incident, and she sold him her shop in 2009 when choosing to go into semi-retirement. Although his caring nature could be put down to obsession and jealously, as he envied Rita's relationship with Colin Grimshaw, although it did turn out Colin had slept with an underage girl decades prior. He also didn't trust Rita's partner-turned-husband Dennis Tanner (who she knew from her younger days) although this was down to Dennis' leeching.

Norris could be shown to be spiteful as he refused to give his long lost half-brother Ramsay Clegg the benefit of the doubt when the latter wanted to reconcile, although this was stemmed from Norris losing his mother when Ramsay turned up on her doorstep in 1961. When Ramsay died and Norris learned through letters that their mother wasn't what Norris thought she was, he was full of regret. Even with his gossiping he sometimes displayed satisfaction over other people's misfortunes.

Norris' nosy behaviour would be a benefit as he was part of the neighbourhood watch and would genially look out for his neighbors and still cared for their best interest. Although he mistakenly thought Peter Barlow killed Tina McIntyre, Norris testified as he felt it was the right way to go and only did it to help the case, as he had no other reason to believe (at the time) Peter didn't do the crime.

Background information[]

  • Twenty-years prior to playing Norris, Malcolm Hebden originally portrayed the role of Spaniard Carlos from 1974 to 1975.
  • Norris appeared as a recurring character from March 1994 to April 1997. The character then returned as a regular character in December 1999.
  • Norris Cole had his own official Twitter page which acted as a tie-in to the main show, and he would regularly update it to give his opinions on events. The account was launched in 2010. The account ran for seven years but was shut down in 2017, which happened around the time when Malcolm Hebden was forced to leave due to falling ill. In 2014 it also featured a couple of videos, with them showing Norris preparing for his testimony against Peter Barlow.
  • In January 2018, it was reported that Malcolm Hebden has taken an extended leave of absence from the show, and in July that year it was confirmed that he was recovering from a heart attack back in December, which led to him being put into an induced coma. In November 2018 it was revealed that Norris would be returning to the show in 2019, and that the cast were looking forward to Hebden's return.
  • Hebden returned for several episodes from May to June 2019 in order to give the character an on-screen exit, and he departed on the 7th June. Despite his departure, the show bosses are adamant that the door will be left open for any future returns for the actor. He made further guest returns in October and December 2019, before then resuming full-time in March 2020, although appearing as a semi-regular. He made his final appearance on 24th June 2020, as Hebden announced his retirement from the show in January 2021. Following Hebden's resignation, Norris was killed off in September 2021 and received a send-off.

Dialogue[]

"Might I be right in thinking this is Mr Wilton's residence?" (First line, to Mavis Wilton).

---

"Check your watches, another vodka and tonic down her neck and we'll get the greatest hits of Vera Lynn." (Final line)

Memorable info[]

Appearances: 11 March–1 April 1994, 3 October 1994–17 April 1995, 6 September–29 December 1995, 11 March–29 December 1996, 9–14 April 1997, 1 December 1999–8 December 2017, 6 May–7 June 2019, 9 Oct 2019, 9 Dec 2019, 16 March 2020–24 June 2020

Full Name: Norris Benjamin Cole

ParentsEunice Mary Cole and Mr. Cole

Siblings: Ramsay Clegg (half, same mother)

Spouse: Myrtle Hargreaves (first wife), Angela Hawthorne (second wife), Mary Taylor (2017-)

Advertisement