Tom is an army war veteran. Tom is first seen in Albert Square in August 1986. He lives with his spinster sister in the council house at 25 Albert Square and he initially works for the council as custodian of the community centre. He is also a member of the Walford Allotments where he competes with Arthur Fowler in the growing of leeks and marrows. He manages to win first prize for the best leeks at the Walford & District Allotment Society Show, when he actually steals them from Arthur — the leeks he had been hoping to enter were damaged by Roly the poodle the night before the competition.
After his sister dies, Tom seeks the female company of Dot Cotton and Pat Wicks, but Dot remains faithful to her marriage vows and Pat thinks Tom is too old for her boisterous lifestyle. In 1986, Tom accepts an offer to work as potman at The Queen Victoria public house. He is paid in pints and occasional cash-in-hand. Later on Tom swaps lodgings with Dot and moves next door to the flat at Number 23A Albert Square. He dies at his post in the pub toilets of a heart attack on 21 April 1988. As he has no close relatives or friends surviving, Dot takes it upon herself to arrange his funeral and dispose of his personal belongings via a yard sale with Ethel. She is shocked to find that he carried a small picture of herself in his pocket. Dot is later furious when only she and Ian Beale attend his funeral.