Laurie Bates turned up in Albert Square in September 1989 to take up a vacant pitch on Bridge Street Market where Cindy Beale's mother had once sold hats. Laurie's stall sells fruit and veg she is in direct competition with Pete Beale. Laurie tries to pilfer Pete's customers by undercutting his prices. Laurie takes a fancy to Julie Cooper but then sets his sights on Kathy Beale, Pete's recently estranged wife. Pete is furious that Laurie has not just stolen his customers but also his wife and they start arguing a lot. Kathy is initially wary of Laurie but he says he lost his first wife to cancer.
Kathy is still wary of mean, having been raped in 1988. Julie Cooper takes advantage of this and seduces Laurie and they sleep together. Laurie then regret this. Julie tries to persuade him against Kathy by informing him of her rape, but this only makes him more sympathetic towards her. He persuades Kathy to give him another chance and promises to take things slowly. Pete and Ian Beale refuse to accept Laurie as Kathy's new lover. Pete soon realises his marriage to Kathy is over and then calls a truce with Laurie. By January 1990 Kathy feels ready to sleep with Laurie but she still has cold feet. Laurie then plans a lavish night out but Kathy changes her mind at the last moment. Laurie feels she is mucking him about. During an argument in Bridge Street Laurie storms off, dropping his wallet by mistake. Kathy has a peek inside and finds a photo of a woman who strongly resembles her. She thinks that it is his dead wife and he had been trying to recreate her by dressing her in the same clothes and jewellery by buying her these things.
Following this, Laurie becomes depressed and starts drinking heavily. His sister Shirley visits Kathy, asking her to talk to him and explain why she has ended their relationship. When Kathy does, she accuses him of trying to turn her into a replica of his deceased wife; however, she is embarrassed to learn that the woman she had seen in the photo was not his dead wife after all. Kathy apologises for jumping to conclusions; they call a truce and part company, realising that they are not right for each other. Laurie decided to give up his stall on Bridge Street Market, leave Walford and move on. He was never seen or heard from again.