Kim Tate’s shock return to Emmerdale next week is shaping up to be the biggest soap comeback of 2018, as the village vixen stakes her claim on former residence Home Farm and demands current owner, stepgrandson Joe, be removed.
Since the iconic bad girl famously flew off in a helicopter 20 years ago, there have been endless rumours the character would resurface – so how did producers finally tempt Claire King to reprise her old role?
“Because there was a Tate name back in Home Farm it made it smoother for the continuity,” says the actress, discussing her reappearance with RadioTimes.com on the Home Farm set to publicise next week’s blockbuster episodes. “I still know some people here and thought it would be good fun. Plus I’d done Corrie [playing Erica Holroyd between 2014-2017] and didn’t fancy driving the four or five hours across the Pennines to Manchester from Yorkshire anymore!
“Chris Chittell, who plays Pollard, texted me saying ‘Don’t worry, Kingy, it’s still the same great place with the same good work ethic’ – it sounds cheesy but it really is a family here and it’s lovely to be back.
“I left Corrie in 2017 and had to wait until things settled down a bit as I needed some time in between, but I’ve known I was coming back to Emmerdale for about a year. It’s been really hard to stay quiet – I did tell my parents and my partner, but no one else. Now it’s out friends are furiously texting me!”
Despite her place in the soap hall of fame, King admits to being nervous about revisiting her legendary alter ego. “There was pressure because she’d been such a big character and I didn’t want to spoil the memories people had. I’d left on such a high and it could all go horrible wrong. And there was the thought of ‘Can I still do this?!’ But I was eased back in as my first few days were mainly with Andrew Scarborough [Graham Foster] away from the main set. By the time I shot the scene of her pulling up in the sports car at Home Farm, Kim was well and truly back!”
As befits conniving Kim, there was a fair amount of cloak and dagger employed to smuggle King onto set. “I had to park out the back of the lot where the trucks park, wear false noses and all sorts! Everyone did a great job of keeping the secret. In scripts my code name was ‘Anna Seed’!”
Kim is thrown back into the action – literally as she ends up pushed down the Home Farm staircase into a champagne fountain, of all things, at a masquerade ball, sparking a whodunnit mystery. With such Dynasty-style antics in store it’s like she’s never been away, but King admits she was surprised at the excited reaction to her return on social media when it was announced – #KimTate was even trending on Twitter.
“Considering half the people talking about it weren’t even born when I was in Emmerdale before I was amazed! We’ve reached a new generation! I don’t have time to read all the mentions, how do those kids from Love Island keep up with their social media? It’s madness, you could spend all day on it.”
The finer details of the storyline remain under wraps, but a murky connection between Kim and Joe’s enigmatic manservant Graham is teased, as is the character’s fate beyond falling into a table-full of champagne flutes.
“There is history between Kim and Graham,” smiles King, “it’s interesting and we get to find out more about that as next week’s episodes go on.” And why was Kim in prison, and what else might she have got up to in the intervening years? “I’m sure that will all come out in the wash!” laughs the star. “There were several crimes committed years ago. I think it was mentioned she went to Ireland back in 1999 – you wouldn’t get much further in a helicopter from Yorkshire!”
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