|Born||12th June 1924|
|Spouse(s)||Les Clegg (1947)
Ron Cooke (1974)
|First appearance||1st April 1968|
|Last appearance||13th January 1975|
|Played by||Irene Sutcliffe|
Margaret "Maggie" Cooke (née Preston, previously Clegg) was the owner of Coronation Street's Corner Shop from 1968 to 1974. She was soon joined in the street by her sister Betty Turpin, whose son Gordon she had raised with her husband Les Clegg. Gordon wasn't told the truth about his parentage until 1975.
Maggie Preston was born in 1924 and married Les Clegg. In 1949, her sister Betty had an affair with a married sailor and had a son, Gordon, who was adopted by the Cleggs and they raised him as their own son.
By 1968, Les was a violent drunk and Maggie put up with hell during the marriage. Gordon hated his dad and didn't forgive him for beating Maggie up. In 1968, they moved to Coronation Street for a fresh start and bought the Corner Shop from David and Irma Barlow. Gordon lived in the flat upstairs.
Things went well until Les gained Maggie's trust to go out on his own, but when he went out to celebrate a bowls victory he disappeared, showing up with a bottle in hand and smashing up the shop. He hit Maggie but was restrained by Gordon, who knocked him out. He was admitted to a mental hospital after seeing a psychiatrist, though he was remorseful about his actions Maggie supported his rehabilitation, as the marriage has left her a nervous wreck.
Maggie found life much easier with Les away. Gordon was studying for his accountancy exams, so she didn't let him help in the shop, taking on Valerie Barlow as assistant. Maggie concerned herself with Gordon's welfare and didn't approve of his relationship with Lucille Hewitt. She worried that Lucille would keep him away from his studies, but Lucille wasn't too interested anyway as she thought Gordon was a mummy's boy.
Eventually the relationship did get serious and they were intent on marrying. Maggie refused to give them permission to marry, and a few days later they left Weatherfield, the only way they could be together with their parents interfering. However, they had a change of heart and returned for Gordon to take his exams. The engagement was still on, but Maggie decided to stop mothering Gordon and let him marry Lucille if he really wanted to. In 1969, Gordon called the wedding off and took a job with an accountancy firm in London. Maggie was happy about the broken engagement but upset that he was leaving.
Later that year, Betty and her husband Cyril Turpin moved to the area, and Betty got a job as a barmaid in the Rovers Return Inn. Betty thought she was helping Maggie by matchmaking between her and Len Fairclough, but they were good friends and Maggie was still married so wanted to remain so. Betty tended to dominate Maggie too much under the pretence of helping her out, and wouldn't take no for an answer.
In 1970, Maggie and Les started divorce proceedings. She didn't believe he would stay sober and sure enough he started drinking again within a few months.
A divorced Maggie gave herself permission to pursue Len, but he was still only interested in her as a friend and pursued barmaid Anita Reynolds instead.
Later that year, Maggie sold part of the business to Irma Barlow, who had just been widowed. The share in the shop was a gift from her dad Stan, as she used to own the shop, but Irma hated the arrangement. Maggie gave the money to Gordon, who was becoming quite a success in London. Soon a more enthusiastic Irma brought her share of the shop to 50%. Irma also moved into the shop flat with Bet Lynch.
The following year, Maggie took a Social Services course at the Open University. Irma left to live in Wales and sold her share of the shop back to her. Maggie had to tread carefully when Cyril wanted him and Betty to buy the other half of the shop, and Cyril made Maggie feel guilty that Betty had to come to Weatherfield to help her in the first place. Maggie stood firm and didn't let herself be emotionally blackmailed, and admitted she didn't want Betty in the shop. She announced whoever offered her the most could have the whole shop - she was going to live in London. There was no sale; Maggie changed her mind and stayed.
In 1972, Maggie employed Norma Ford as a live-in assistant. With her divorce now final, she started seeing Councillor Alf Roberts, and was hurt when he didn't tell her his estranged wife Phyllis had died. They had an on-off relationship until 1974. In 1973, Alf was chosen over Len as the last Mayor of Weatherfield and he asked Maggie to be his Mayoress. Maggie turned him down, admitting she was scared of letting him down - she thought Annie Walker would be a much better choice.
They kept seeing each other, with Alf eventually proposing, but Maggie turned him down, as he wasn't very romantic despite being reliable.
In 1973, Maggie thought about enlarging the shop but Len talked her out of it as there was the possibility that the shop would be demolished and it would be a waste of money. The following year, Maggie was lumbered with Betty again when Cyril died. Maggie had to persuade her to return to work at the Rovers when she was ready, though Betty wanted to stay at the shop. Maggie feared that if she let Betty stay she would be there forever.
Maggie later met reformed alcoholic Ron Cooke and was impressed he had stayed off the drink for two years. He almost immediately proposed to her and promised her a new life in Zaire. They married in July, with Maggie seizing the opportunity for a fresh start in a new country. Gordon returned to Weatherfield and ran the shop after Maggie left, later renting the shop out to the Hopkins family.
Later in 1974, Megan Hopkins found Gordon's birth certificate behind a sideboard in the shop accommodation, but the mother's name was not Maggie's, but Betty's. The Hopkinses were going to blackmail Betty, but Maggie returned to Weatherfield so he would hear the truth from her. The Hopkinses were evicted from the shop and Maggie returned to Zaire.
(To the Hopkins, icily): "It doesn't matter very much to me what you say, or to Gordon. We shan't be here – but Betty will. So remember it's her business and leave it alone...please." (final words)