Cora Cross made her first appearance on the 11 April 2011 and she is the mother of Tanya, Rainie and Ava. She also has two granddaughters Lauren and Abi Branning, two grandsons Dexter Hartman and Oscar Branning as well as a great-grandson and great-granddaughter, Louie and Abi Jnr.
Cora Cross is a whirlwind of chaos who's storming into The Square. She's an unpredictable character that you either love being around or steer well clear of.
Outwardly, Cora’s tough as old boots and doesn’t give a stuff what people think of her. But underneath all her bling and hair dye there is a sadness to her. She’s lonely, and wishes she had a relationship with her daughters Tanya & Rainie.
Unpredictable Cora has lived on an estate all her life. She’s never really had any money and finds it impossible to hold down a job. Even though she’s always skint, she does enjoy the finer things in life. She’s a fan of gold, and her big earrings may even outshine some of Pat's. This lary lady won’t back down from an argument and holds lifelong grudges. Cross Cora at your peril!
Cora likes the high life. She likes to get out, have a drink and a sing-song, tell a few stories - and maybe dole out a few home truths when someone needs taking down a peg or two.
Although relationship-building generally comes second to sticking her beak in where it's not wanted and offering unwanted advice, she is fiercely defensive of her family and only wants the best for them. If a fight breaks out, this is a lady you want on your side.
Cora turns up at her daughter Tanya Branning's house unannounced, and revealing that Tanya's fiancé Greg Jessop invited her to their wedding against Tanya's wishes. Cora's other daughter, Rainie Cross also arrives at Tanya's house, which Tanya is initially unhappy about, but Cora vouches for her by promising that she is now clean from drugs and explains that Rainie's counsellor thinks she should reconnect with her family. Tanya soon softens towards her mother and sister. On Tanya's hen night, Cora takes a dislike to Vanessa Gold after Vanessa laughs about them living on a council estate. The next day, Tanya's ex-husband, Max Branning, goes to Tanya's house after tearing their daughter Abi Branning's bridesmaid dress; Tanya does not want to see him so Cora attempts to sort him out. She tells Max that although the girls have his name, they are Crosses deep down. It is later revealed that Rainie is staying at Cora's house. Cora then attends Tanya's wedding, and finds it amusing when Jane Beale says she kissed Greg the night before. Cora departs after the wedding on 15 April, and Rainie later reveals that she has moved out of her mother's home.
Cora returns months later as she can no longer handle her abusive neighbours and asks to stay with Tanya for a few days. Tanya lets her stay longer, and on her birthday, she visits The Queen Victoria public house and meets Patrick Trueman and Alfie Moon. She gets drunk and confronts Tanya about forgetting her birthday and how she treats Rainie. Cora also guesses that Tanya does not love Greg, but Tanya denies this. Cora reveals she has been evicted from her home because her neighbour has an ASBO, but when Cora, Tanya and Rainie return there to empty the house, the neighbour reveals that Cora is the one with the ASBO. She looks after Tanya's young son Oscar Branning but he annoys her due to the noise he makes. She leaves him to play on the stairs but he falls down them, leaving him with minor injuries.
Eventually Cora is forced to move out of Tanya's and convinces Dot Branning to let her stay with her and her sister Rose Cotton. She asks Anthony Moon to help her move her things, saying he can keep one of her belongings as payment. He asks for her candlesticks, but she says they are the only decent thing she owns, so she lets him buy them for £200. She later finds out they could be worth £1000, so convinces Anthony's father Eddie Moon to give her an extra £300, but he believes them to be worth £8000. Dot later kicks Cora out for laughing at her and using language that Dot dislikes. Cora arrives at Tanya's house just as Shirley Carter is throttling Rainie so Cora fends Shirley off and threatens her. Tanya then lets Cora stay with her. When Max returns because Abi is worried about Tanya, it leads to Lauren revealing that Tanya has cervical cancer and has stopped her treatment. Tanya explains that she did not tell anyone because of how it was for her when her father, William, was dying of cancer. She then tells Cora and Rainie that William did not die peacefully as they thought, but he was in constant pain so Tanya helped him to die. Cora is initially horrified, but after Tanya explains further the circumstances surrounding William's death, they reconcile.
Cora then vows to support Tanya through her illness. Cora starts voluntary work at a cancer charity shop, where she is quickly promoted to manager. Cora also returns to live with Dot and Rose. Cora suspects Max of having an affair with Roxy Mitchell. Max gets Roxy to admit to Cora that she attempted to seduce him, but that he refused her. Cora then warns Roxy to stay away from Max before throwing her out. Lucy Beale confides in Cora as she is unsure if she will see her father again. Having smashed Cora's shop window, Sasha Dixon is made to do shifts in the shop to pay for the damage. Cora swindles funeral director Les Coker as a means of increasing shop sales. When Lola Pearce goes into labour, Cora helps deliver her baby daughter, Lexi.
Cora pretends to be in a relationship with Patrick at a funeral of one of his old friends. Tanya assumes the relationship is real, so Cora is angry that Tanya is interfering. Cora and Patrick then decide to start a real relationship, taking it slowly. Tanya tries to make up for upsetting Cora by replacing a bracelet she lost, but discovers a birth certificate for a sister she knew nothing about, Ava Anderton. Cora refuses to discuss the matter, until later, when she burns the birth certificate and tells Tanya that Ava died shortly after birth. Tanya asks Cora find Rainie so she can be a bridesmaid at Tanya's second wedding to Max. Rainie sends her addiction sponsor to meet Cora, who reveals that Rainie has been sober for six weeks, Rainie blames Cora for her bad behaviour and does not want any further contact with her. Cora bins Rainie's bridesmaid dress and simply tells Tanya that Rainie refused to be a bridesmaid. Cora begins behaving strangely and angrily tells Tanya the truth about Rainie.
When Patrick questions Cora about a cake she is baking, she tells him it is for Ava's birthday, she is in fact alive and she was forced to give her up for adoption by her parents because she was unmarried and the baby was mixed race. Her erratic behaviour continues and she is subsequently fired from the charity shop. Patrick reveals to Tanya that Ava is alive, so Tanya tracks her down to a school in Dalston where she works as a deputy headmistress. Tanya is shocked to discover that Ava is mixed-race and decides to leave things. However, she leaves her purse behind, and Ava returns it to Tanya's home, where Cora is horrified when she introduces herself by her name. Tanya reveals the truth, and Cora leaves after slapping Tanya for meddling in her private life. She is angry at Patrick when he says he told Tanya the truth and ends the relationship. Cora then speaks to Ava, and Ava has many questions. Ava says she thought about finding Cora before but decided against it as she wanted to keep the past in the past, and says that nothing has changed now, rejecting Cora. Ava leaves and Cora cries. Cora later goes to Ava's workplace and gives her a Christmas card, and a short while later, Ava brings one for Cora. She also reconciles with Patrick but they stay friends.
As Christmas nears, Cora reunites with Tanya, and is invited for Christmas with the Brannings. At Derek Branning]'s funeral, Cora delivers an honest eulogy. Cora comforts Tanya after she splits with Max. She befriends her grandson, Ava's son Dexter Hartman, who helps to bring Cora and Ava closer. Cora is a support to Tanya and Lauren while Lauren goes through alcoholism. Tanya takes Lauren away to a clinic, but Tanya does not return when Lauren does. When Dexter's father Sam James arrives, he tries to win Cora over but she sees that Ava and Dexter are upset and warns him off. Ava and Sam reunite, and Cora eventually tells Dexter, who is initially angry but comes to terms with the relationship. Cora is jealous when Patrick picks Betty Spragg as his dance partner, making fun of her behind her back and angering Patrick, putting a strain on their friendship. Abi and Kim Fox plot to get Cora and Patrick back together, locking them in a shed. Patrick ends his friendship with Betty and resumes a relationship with Cora.
When Tanya moves away from Walford, Cora continues to live with Lauren and Abi, and they are later joined by Dexter when Ava moves to Newcastle. Cora supports her granddaughters when Max is in prison for attempted murder, but following his release from prison and separation from his third wife Kirsty Branning, he buys 5 Albert Square, and throws Cora and Dexter out, as they do nothing around the house. They move in with Patrick, but he ends his relationship with Cora in March 2014 due to her insensitive comments that she makes to Dot following the death of her son Nick Cotton. He later tells her that she and Dexter have one month to find somewhere else. Cora steals money from the laundrette to rent a flat, but after Dot finds her stealing money from the washing machines, Cora loses hope until Stan Carter, who she has recently befriended agrees to give her some cash. Cora and Dexter later move into a flat together. Lauren and Abi move in with her when Max is revealed to have been having sex with Lauren's best friend, Lucy Beale, before her recent murder (see Who Killed Lucy Beale?). Cora becomes suspicious that Max is withholding information from the police and calls them to clarify his statement. She later warns him not to hurt Lauren and Abi any further.
Cora and Stan start dating and Stan, who has terminal prostate cancer, decides he wants to commit the time he has left with her. He surprises her with a Christmas dance, but things are ruined when Stan's ex-wife Sylvie Carter walks in on them together. Cora decides to move to Newcastle with Dexter and Ava, but after Stan apologises to her and goes with her to the station, she has a change of heart and decides to stay. Stan then takes Cora to a retro dance event, but Cora walks out when Sylvie arrives there. She goes back there with Babe Smith but leaves again after seeing Stan and Sylvie sharing a dance and a kiss and learning that Babe has had feelings for Stan all along.
Several weeks later, Stan invites Cora to a horse racing match in hopes of rekindling their relationship, but she turns him down as she feels she will lose him again. The same day, Stan collapses due to his cancer spreading leaving him paralysed from the waist down. Two days later, after much hesitation, Cora visits Stan in hospital to say goodbye to him, but is unperturbed by Babe's presence in caring for Stan. After Babe privately recalls to Cora how much she loved Stan from the minute she met him, Cora is surprised when Stan proposes to her. She rejects his proposal, not wanting to hurt Babe's feelings, but Babe, realising that her and Stan were never meant to be, encourages Cora to accept the proposal for his last chance of happiness. Two weeks later, Stan passes away from his cancer, devastating Cora. After his funeral, Cora departs, saying she will stay with Tanya in Exeter, and is then seen calling her and waiting for her to pick her up.
A few months later, a dishevelled Cora attends a charity drive for the homeless at the community centre, but ensures nobody sees her. When Abi calls Tanya, she discovers Cora has not visited Tanya. Abi is distressed and attempts to find her. Cora is found by Abi, Jane and Carol Jackson sleeping rough in a bus shelter and at first does not recognise Abi, however, she soon returns to Walford and lives in an allotment shed and in alleyways. Babe continues to make fun of her homeless state and when Cora steals food from The Vic, she humiliates Babe by exposing her past with Queenie Trott as a baby farmer. Eventually, Cora's friends and neighbours stage a protest, surprisingly led by Babe, at the local council's Christmas party and they are forced to house Cora.
When Denise Fox is referred to a food bank, she finds Cora is volunteering there so leaves. Cora persuades Denise to get some food and explains to Denise that when she first used the food bank, she was abusive, but it helped her. Denise lets Cora know that Max is back on Albert Square, so Cora goes there and sees Max on the street. She returns to Walford a month later for Abi's 21st birthday party where she tells Max that he is still a rotten cheat and he will destroy Lauren and Abi's lives again. Cora returns after Abi contacts her and tells her that Lauren is engaged to Steven Beale. She is furious to discover Lauren has quit her job at Weyland and Co. Furthermore, she is surprised to discover that Max is now dating Carmel Kazemi. She tells Lauren that she knows that Lauren doesn't love Steven and questions whether he is controlling her. Cora then encourages Lauren to visit Tanya. When Oscar is due to visit Max for his tenth birthday, Tanya changes her mind on letting Max see him when Denise informs Cora, about Max's part in conning the neighbours with Weyland & Co as a form of revenge for being falsely imprisoned for murder.
After Abi and Lauren fall off the roof of the pub, Cora visits Abi in hospital and slaps Max, blaming him for the accident. Abi is brainstem dead and will never recover. Abi is pregnant and the baby is delivered and survives. Cora is present when Abi's life support is turned off. On the day of Abi's funeral, Cora tells Max to stay away as he has damaged the family, and afterwards, she drives Tanya home. Max then names the baby Abi Branning, but Cora receives temporary custody of her. Max marries Rainie as part of a scam to gain custody of Abi, and a battle between them and Cora ensues. Cora visits with Abi one day and allows Rainie and Max to look after her overnight. Cora then offers Rainie the chance to leave Max and move to Exeter to run a tea shop and bring up Abi with Cora and Tanya. Rainie asks Cora for more, and gets her to write a cheque for £50,000, which Rainie shows to Max, saying she is turning it down as she wants to bring up Abi with Max. Rainie then calls social services and reveals Cora's bribe to them.
While looking after Abi, Cora turns her back and Abi's pram rolls into the path of a van but it is stopped just in time. When Max and Rainie receive Cora's court statement, it claims that Rainie had sex with Max's brother, Jack Branning, of which Cora has evidence. Rainie slaps Cora when she insults her in the pub, and Cora punches Rainie in the face. When Rainie tries to apologise later, Cora accuses Rainie of trying to abduct Abi and knocks her out with a frying pan. The police then arrive to put Abi into temporary care.