Emmerdale welcomes back one of its most iconic characters tonight (Monday 8 October) as Kim Tate makes her first appearance in 19 years. Claire King reprising her famous role is a big deal for Dales fans, as the gold-digging bad girl basically wrote the book on British soap bitches during her decade on the show.
But it’s been a while so there may be some viewers struggling to recall the Kim Tate era, and some who may be too young to know anything about her reign of terror. As she steps out of the prison gates to reclaim Home Farm and the family fortune from stepgrandson Joe, with the aid of secret servant Graham Foster, here’s a handy guide to the high-octane highlights of Emmerdale’s blonde bombshell.
When did Kim arrive in the village?
Way back in 1989, when wealthy new family the Tates took ownership of Home Farm. Kim was the second, and considerably younger, wife of widowed patriarch Frank and clashed with his grown-up kids Zoe and Chris who accused their stepmother of only being after their dad’s dosh. They were right.
Was she always a baddie?
A few years in and her true colours shone through – ripped apart by a tragic miscarriage she cheated on Frank with Neil Kincaid in 1992 and he demanded a divorce. They patched it up and remarried, but Kim’s eye wandered again in 1995, this time settling on hunky farmhand Dave Glover, and they began a torrid Lady Chatterley-style fling.
Did Frank find out about this affair too?
Yes, and it caused one of the biggest scandals in Emmerdale history. Kim fell pregnant and had a son, James, but Frank couldn’t let her go and offered her a cool million to dump Dave, come back to him and be named as the baby’s father. It turned out Frank was probably the daddy anyway, but by then Kim had gone back to true love Dave and they planned to run away together – only for a fire to break out in the Home Farm nursery and Dave to be killed saving James’s life in 1997. Heartbroken Kim then disappeared.
Was that her exit?
Not quite. After identifying a dead body found at the wheel of a car as his wife, Frank was flabbergasted when Kim turned up alive and well a few months later, having faked her death while she planned a elaborate vengeance for Frank stopping her leaving with Dave. The shock of seeing her caused a fatal heart attack and Kim coldly stood by and watched him die, doing nothing to help knowing she would inherit everything. In one of Emmerdale’s most gloriously camp classic moments, callous Kim checked Frank had stopped breathing with her compact mirror – then did a quick check on her own make-up. That combo of glamour and murder pretty much sums up the character.
What did she do next?
She married dodgy businessman and conniving kindred spirit Steve Marchant in 1998 and the couple became a virtual crimewave, indulging in various nefarious money-making schemes, blackmail, extortion, theft and lots more besides, all to protect her position as Lady of the Manor in the village’s most revered residence, while Chris and Zoe continued their quest to bring down their wicked stepmother.
How did she eventually leave the show?
A plot to steal a valuable race horse and sell it on for a whopping profit went disastrously wrong when Steve was involved in a hit-and-run while stealing the animal, and the Marchants were forced to stand trial for their crimes. In January 1999, Kim put her escape plan into action and stole a wad of cash before a final showdown with Chris at Home Farm, cruelly confessing she let his dad die as she knocked him out with a paperweight. While Chris nursed the mother of all headaches in the same spot Frank had died (he survived but later poisoned himself to frame wife Charity for murder, which is a whole other story…) and framed Steve was sent down for a 12-year stretch, Kim, baby James and the cash took to the skies in a helicopter never to be seen again. In 2005 Kim sent flowers to the funeral of old friend (actually, only friend) gamekeeper Seth Armstrong, and was said to be living in Ireland.
What brings her back in 2018?
According to King, Kim has been pulling the strings since Joe and Graham arrived last year and getting the Tates back in Home Farm was all her idea. “She’s been in charge all along. Kim and Graham go back over 10 years, as she’s been under lock and key for a while, although I’m not sure at this point how Kim ended up in prison during the intervening years.” Andrew Scarborough, aka Graham, adds: “Graham and Joe are both working for Kim, but Joe has gone rogue and deviated from Kim’s plan – and she’s not happy.” It appears Joe’s claim on his dad Chris’s fortune may be trumped by his stepgrandmother’s place in the Tate pecking order. Considering her track record, the boys better beware of Emmerdale’s black widow…
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