Emmerdale's arch-villainess Kim Tate is out of prison and back in the village next week, as Claire King makes a permanent return to her iconic role following an explosive, if brief, reappearance in October 2018.
Cruel Kim became the UK's archetypal soap super bitch during her original decade-long stint as the gold-digging diva from 1989 to 1999, but producers finally tempted her back last year when it was revealed she had installed step grandson Joe Tate (Ned Porteous) and her lover Graham Foster (Andrew Scarborough) into Home Farm to run the family business while she served a prison sentence.
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But when Joe jeopardised the Tate estate by planning to marry Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) newly-released Kim ordered his death - in an audacious twist the hunky tycoon tried to do a runner but was punched by Deb's dad Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley) for jilting his daughter, knocking him out cold and believing the blow had killed him. Graham 'disposed' of the body but viewers know Joe was still alive when he bundled him into the boot of his car - Joe's final fate is still ambiguous but Cain continues to believe he is a killer.
Kim clashed with the villagers and ended up back behind bars for six months after breaching bail conditions by driving without insurance, hilariously, but on Thursday 14 March she's out and ready to cause havoc. What can we expect as the lady of the manor ensconces herself in Home Farm once again?
Revenge is sweet
As Kim is freed she has no intention of going back to the big house a few days later like last time. "She is adamant she will not be going back to prison!" laughs King. "Now she's out she wants to wreak revenge on those who have upset her and get her own back. Kim is in bullying mode and driven!" Safe to say she won't be throwing any more drinks and mingling parties at Home Farm, then.
Cain's in her sights
With somewhat inevitable speed, Kim comes into contact with Cain Dingle when the car breaks down en route from prison and there is an immediate spark. "Cain stops to help and starts fixing the car," smiles King. "They have never met before. She really fancies him at first and says she could do with someone like Cain working for her and introduces herself as Kim Tate - and he doesn't want anything to do with her! Battle lines are drawn, and these two are going to have a feisty time of it!"
Digging dirt on Joe's disappearance
Cain is tormented by the belief he murdered the love of his daughter's life, which has destroyed his relationship with Debbie, and Kim's arrival stirs the situation even more."Kim put out the orders to have Joe killed but as far as she knows it was Cain who did the dirty deed, accidentally or not. She knows she can play with him, like a cat with a half dead nouse! She thinks she has the upper hand and can probably blackmail him into something, as she could probably pay the police into making them believe Cain killed Joe. Cain is in a very precarious place and Kim uses this to her advantage." But could Mrs Tate's presence unlock the truth about what really happened to Joe?
Getting Graham all to herself
The revelation enigmatic man servant Graham was having his strings pulled by the blonde ballbreaker all along was an unexpected twist, and King promises their intriguing relationship will be explored in more detail this time round. "Their relationship goes back almost 20 years. She hired him to look after the business and brought in Joe when he was old enough, but Joe fell in love with Debbie and Graham started drinking again so Kim is not happy about any of that! There's a spark with Graham, she likes the fact he can handle himself and he's the only one who can reign Kim in, but it's an odd pairing. I think Graham would marry Kim tomorrow but she wouldn't want to lose control or be equal partners. She also doesn't like the thought of him being with anyone else…"
Which leads us to a potential clash with Graham's current lover, businesswoman Megan Macey (Gaynor Faye). "I'm sure she'll put a spanner in the works of that one!" laughs King. And Megan isn't the only person in the line of fire. "Kim sees Faith in the village and tricks her into admitting she pushed her off the balcony at the Home Farm party last year, not Charity who took the blame for it. Nothing happens with that at the moment, Kim puts it on the back burner and will get revenge in the future I have no doubt. Tates and Dingles just do not mix!"
Home Farm employee Nicola King (Nicola Wheeler) tried to swindle Graham but as the real power behind the throne returns she quickly aligns herself with Mrs Tate. But does lone wolf Kim need anyone in her corner? "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer! Kim has respect for Nicola as she stands up for herself, but she knows she's been doing dodgy dealings and taking advantage of Graham. I think Kim has other plans for her."
The search for her long-lost son Jamie
Teased last year was the reintroduction of Kim and the late Frank's son James who she tasked Graham with tracking down having fallen out with him. How long until we meet the grown-up version of the toddler perched on his mum's knee when they escaped in a helicopter 2o years ago? "She wants to look for Jamie as part of building up the Tate name and business again to a proper dynasty. Whether she'll get it or not, who knows? Jamie is bound to be young, glamorous and gorgeous - whoever plays him has got to be a good-looking young boy!”
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