Julie has a brittle, sometimes harsh exterior - it's an attempt to mask her insecurities. She went into retail after leaving school and has worked at Valco (the St Helens branch and now the Warrington branch) ever since. She's been courted by Morrisons a few times but she's a Valco girl through and through.
Julie was engaged to someone, but he's now known as The Bastard. They bought a show home together on a newly built estate in Warrington. She was dumped by The Bastard eight years ago, who went off with 'The Bitch' from IKEA (now officially a No Go Area). He let Julie keep the show home. Julie has 'slightly' re-written history claiming to everyone that it was a mutual separation. Only her ex-boss, Craig, knows the truth.
Julie fell to pieces in the aftermath of the break up. She went to Ireland for a mini break and ended up having a mini breakdown. This has caused her to mess up in interviews to gain promotion where, when very nervous, she lapses in to Irish (it's like a 'Nam' flashback, except to the Emerald Isle).
When she joined the Warrington branch of Valco, she immediately fell under Gavin's 'dynamic' spell. Coveting Deputy Manager Leanne's job since arriving, she dreamt of becoming the Crystal to Gavin's Blake. After a series of misfires and mishaps, Julie finally gained the promotion she so desired during Series 2.
Julie's life mainly consists of ready-made meals for one whilst watching all the things she's Sky-plussed: anything with Ross Kemp in, ditto Robson Green (to the point of watching Extreme Fishing), Dragon's Den (though insists she could do that Deborah 'trout face' Meadon's job better than her - she never dips her hand in her pocket for any of the inventors), Come Dine With Me, Escape To The Country and The Apprentice (her role model is Karren Brady - Karren's brilliant with figures - and that's with having a brain tumour!).
Gavin is university educated. He'd originally thought about a possible career in law (although he wasn't sure in what field) but the idea of having to appear aggressive in court put him off. He always says he didn't pick a career in retail - 'it picked him' - and has remained in retail all his working life.
After being a Valco store manager for ten years, Series 2 saw Gavin promoted to a Head Office role as Area Manager. However, life on the road and a disastrous new Manager at Warrington threw a few spanners in the works.
Widnes, where he lives, holds many happy memories for Gavin but alas, tinged with sadness. It was where he met his beloved wife Barbara. He boarded the train at Widnes, lost his ticket, Barbara gallantly stepped in and stuck up for him to the train guard. She was a little 'feisty' at times, hence why they ended up getting thrown off by the guard. He and Barbara often used to chuckle fondly over the guard calling her Eva Braun.
Barbara made the excellent suggestion of Gavin taking her out for a meal and things 'just snowballed' from there which resulted in them marrying six months later - Barbara looked stunning in her bridal jodhpurs and crop. Then a few years later, sadly, Barbara was taken by 'the silent killer' (cervical cancer) and she died. They shared a mutual passion for Dire Straits and her funeral song was The Walk Of Life. Gavin always remembers her with affection but we get the impression she was completely domineering (which probably attracted him to her) if not a bit scary. The photos Gavin keeps of her in his office should depict a steely woman - a real ball-breaker.
Out of business hours, Gavin likes to keep trim by playing squash (he doesn't play an aggressive game though) and cricket where he enjoys a couple of halves of real ale in the pub after. He also has a younger brother (who used to bully him - they just exchange Christmas cards now) and elderly parents.
A gentleman of the queen's highway, Gavin sometimes worries he can go 'like a bat out of hell' (at least 73mph) when listening to one of his favourite Lighthouse Family tracks.
Richard (Series 3)
Richard France is Valco's new Head of Strategy. He's been brought in to modernise the chain, and the Warrington branch is his guinea pig.
Young, dynamic, unconventional and somewhat eccentric, France's ideas clash with Gavin's safe and by-the-book approach. Soon the store becomes unrecognisable to Gavin.
As France also starts to empower Julie, it's clear that he's trying to push Gavin out.
An only child ("I wasn't lonely though - I had imaginary friends - I was like a hero to them"), and with his parents now dead, Andy lives alone: and that's the way he intends it to stay. No way would he give up his home for a woman - "she'll only start interfering with my record and CD collection" - all in alphabetical order. And that would lead her to touching his pride and joy - the air-fix model of the HMS Ark Royal he's been building the past few years. (From memory - "Did Andy McNab have instructions to read when he was building a makeshift bridge to escape the Afghans? Of course he didn't!")
Andy has his fair share of ladies (mainly barmaids in the pubs where he drinks or plays pub quizzes) but is genuinely happy to be single - much less complicated.
Has had a variety of jobs since leaving school but found his niche when he became a butcher fifteen years ago. Meat is in his veins.
He likes to think of himself as Mr Fun and has already sorted out his funeral - "so that no one plays Whitney bleeding Houston". Funeral music? Anything by Madness but House Of Fun or Baggy Trousers have to be favourites.
He likes Ray Mears (you never know when survival skills will come in handy - even in Warrington High street) and has read all the books of Andy McNab and Chris Ryan (has been to known to claim that he may well be Andy McNab - he couldn't possibly reveal if he is or he isn't).
After a full 15 - nearly 16 - years at Valco, Andy is reunited with an ex, Sarah, the proverbial 'one who got away', and is convinced to take a chance in life for once, moving to Scarborough to be with her.
Bright, funny, not bad looking, Kieran is a bit aimless. Has no real ambition - as long as he's earning enough to get trollied at the end of the week, he's not arsed.
He's far too nice and easy-going for his own good, equally failing to stand up for himself against Andy and against girlfriend - later wife - Emma. He doesn't like to dwell on things too much, especially when all the signs are there that Emma's not the right girl for him.
Kieran thinks Andy is a pain in the arse at times, but one he's grown to love, in his own way. The one person that makes working at Valco truly bearable is Katie. The one person he should be with is Katie. He just doesn't know it.
Impossibly mild-mannered and well-intentioned, but thick as a pig's proverbial, Leighton is the simplest, most gullible and needy of Valco's employees - but quite probably also its nicest and most honest.
Valco is his entire world, life, and pretty much the extent of his dreams and aspirations. It's no exaggeration to say he'd be lost without it.
Pretty, funny, intelligent. Katie feels trapped in Warrington and has wanted to get out and do something different since she was about ten.
Katie wishes Kieran, with whom she shares more than a slight spark of chemistry, would 'take the blinkers off' and see there's life outside of Warrington - maybe one day with her?
Following Kieran's marriage, Katie went globe-trotting before beginning a belated university course - at 18, she just didn't want that kind of debt. She's now back, happier and refreshed, with a far more positive outlook on life - but still hasn't got what her heart truly desires.
Married to her Alan for forty five years, Margaret has never ventured out of the UK. In fact, she only ventures out of Warrington once a year - to the same caravan park in Wales (she has never bumped in to Bonnie Tyler though in all the years they've been going, despite rumours of a Bonnie sighting).
She has been a 'traditional housewife and mother' all her adult life but now that her sons and daughters have flown the nest, living around various parts of the country, Margaret has felt ready to spread her wings.
Getting the job at Valco as a senior worker is a major move for her. It's opened up a whole new world of opportunities - every day brings something new. She feels a bit guilty for leaving her Alan to cope alone at home but then again, he's becoming a proper little Gordon Ramsay - only without all the effing and jeffing.
Life at Valco could be the beginning of a newly liberated Margaret - who knows? She may even learn to drive yet (if that daft Maureen can do it off the telly then so can she!).
Colin's hobbies include smoking, drinking, getting tattoos and that's about it. Like Lisa, he gets away with doing as little as possible. He can out-gross Lisa any day when he puts his filthy mind to it.
In the early series it is clear Colin and Lisa are made for each other and would make the perfect couple, if it weren't for the fact they can't stand each other...
In later series they do get together, which is disgusting for everyone who has to witness their public displays of affection.
Lisa isn't interested in her job. She's crude, rude, feckless, and loathes ... well, everyone.
She starts off hating Colin but soon ends up having a very, very sexual relationship with him. Yuck.
Sue deals with customer enquiries and problems at the supermarket. She is best mates with Linda, despite there being a bit of an age gap between them.
The pair regularly gossip about the other staff and customers, more often than not whilst eating on the job and perusing the celebrity magazines Valco is supposed to be selling!
At the end of Series 2, Sue - and Linda - are shocked and delighted in equal measure to discover that she has fallen pregnant.
Linda works with Sue on the customer service desk. They are as unattentive and unhelpful as is humanly possible - although the often bizarre demands of customers don't make it easy to act otherwise.
Linda's quite sweet, but certainly not ladylike and cannot keep a secret to save her life.
Neville (Series 2-3)
Neville is starting his career for the second time, after life dealt a few heavy blows in the economic downturn. A divorcee father of two now in his late 40s, Neville once had everything - the job, the house, the family. But he was never flash, just lucky, because in all truth, Neville's always been one of life's losers - the nice guy, the fall guy.
When the bubble burst, Neville was made redundant and he lost it all. His wife left him for his best mate, and Neville had to move out. Now he lives on a grotty estate in Warrington, where he's intimidated by his neighbours, terrorised by the local kids and he works on the kiosk at the local supermarket.
But Neville's an eternal optimist. Even though everything can and does go wrong for him, he always maintains a cheery attitude, and the cracks hardly ever show. He tells himself that this new job is ideal for him, as he always hated meetings, foreign trips, posh lunches etc. This Valco job is the first rung on the ladder - and what a great rung to be on - the only way is up!
Ian (Series 2-3)
Ian is a big, friendly, hairy, bear-like man and the supermarket's main security guard.
Security is probably not the best job for Ian as he is very trusting, a bit lazy, loves to chat, doesn't judge criminals and sees the good side in everyone.
He shares many passions (action movies, model boats, pub quizzes) with Andy, which leads to them becoming good friends.
Ian turns out to be gay - and married - but doesn't make the slightest issue about it.
Anna (Series 3)
Anna is Gavin's exuberant new Spanish girlfriend.
Much to Gavin's alarm, she soon takes a job at Valco to be close to him.
It's not just Gavin who isn't keen to have Anna working at the store - Julie is dismayed about her appointment too.
Ray (Series 3)
Ray is a fishmonger at Valco, obsessed with fish.
Despite his protestations, he is saddled with assistant Dave, following customer feedback that he is "intense, uncomfortable, and f-ing weird".
Oddball Dave soon establishes that, in a world of weirdos, Ray is actually the weirdest of the lot: he cannot throw, cannot catch, has no idea about music, and has only ever seen half of one film - Legally Blonde. He didn't like it.
Slowly, Ray and Dave start to hit it off. Ray's never had a best friend before.
Dave (Series 3)
Dave works with Ray on the fish counter at the supermarket.
He has absolutely no knowledge nor experience of fish whatsoever. Endlessly enthusiastic, jovial and outgoing, he is the absolute binary opposite of Ray in every manner imaginable.
Lorraine (Series 2)
Lorraine was the new manager of Valco Warrington in Series 2. She was brought in by head office to replace Gavin and to launch the new below economy 'No Nonsense' range.
A cross between Hilary Devey and The Fairy Jobmother, she's a self-confessed "business expert".
In her mid 50s and a mutton dressed as lamb, stuck as the 1980s power-dresser, Lorraine was plain-speaking, brash, occasionally crude and used business speak to prove a point - she knew all because she'd had every job in the world! She pulled herself up by her bootstraps, with help from no one.
Lorraine kept her personal life close to her chest, not believing in friends or family. She was flirty with Kieran and the bakers, but hated Leighton and Andy, and soon turned against Julie too.
Following continued friction with the staff, Lorraine was 'resigned' by Gavin in the middle of the store, leaving in a blaze of verbal fireworks.
Sharon (Series 2)
Head baker Sharon was the person who was always there when you least wanted her to be. Late 30s, 'gobshite', piss taker and prankster - Sharon devoted her time to winding people up all over the store - popping up to laugh at the worst time.
The Pied Piper to a gang of 'dough-rats' - the notorious bakers - she would walk into the room with a 'what's up wankers' greeting.