|Portrayed by||Claire King|
|First appearance||21 November 1989|
|Last appearance||19 January 1999|
|Introduced by||Stuart Doughty (1989)
Mervyn Watson (1997)
Kimberly Jane 'Kim' Tate (née Barker, previously Marchant) is a fictional character on the ITV soap opera Emmerdale. who appeared between 1989 and 1999, She was played by actress Claire King. Kim Tate is seen as one of the most iconic characters in the history of British soap opera. Having been dubbed The Soap Superbitch, she is seen by most as the original "superbitch" in any soap. Kim's provocative storylines featured intrigues against her husband Frank, a long standing feud with his children Chris and Zoe, and affairs with Dave Glover and Steve Marchant, the latter of which became her second husband. Kim gained many enemies throughout her time in Emmerdale, and has come to personify an era where the show had more operatic and sophisticated ambitions, beginning with the Emmerdale plane crash of 1993 and arguably culminating in Kim's exit at the end of that decade.
Kim Barker started out as Frank Tate's (Norman Bowler) secretary. She had an affair with him while his wife, Jean, was dying of cancer, despite Frank being old enough to be her father. Frank's son, Chris (Peter Amory), was also attracted to Kim although they later became bitter enemies. After Jean's death, Frank and Kim married and they moved to Home Farm in late 1989. According to actress Claire King's autobiography, Kim was originally going to be married to Chris, but the writers decided that Kim was more interested in the Tate money and would have "cut out the middle man" by marrying Frank. Kim initially seemed to be a nice person who got on well with her stepchildren Chris and Zoe. She was also good friends with Chris's wife, Kathy. This all changed in 1992 when her affair with Neil Kincaid was discovered. Frank found out on Christmas Day and threw Kim out of Home Farm. Kim ended her relationship with Neil not long afterwards.
After Kim and Frank separated in 1993, she set up stables under her maiden name of Kim Barker. This, however, didn't last long as the stables were destroyed in the plane crash in December that year, killing many of the horses. After the plane crash, Frank and Kim put aside their differences and reconciled, remarrying in December 1994. However, Zoe and Chris never trusted her again.
In 1995, Kim began an affair with Dave Glover (Ian Kelsey), boyfriend of Kim's former friend Kathy Tate (Malandra Burrows). (now divorced from Chris). This time Kim was much more ruthless about keeping the affair secret and trampled Kathy's brother Nick with her horse when he threatened to expose her. She also threatened Nick's daughter Alice. When Frank had a heart attack and was advised to take it easy, Kim encouraged him to sleep with her in the hope of inducing another heart attack. Kim became pregnant and wasn't sure who the father was. When Frank overheard Dave and Biff Fowler (Stuart Wade) discussing the situation, he did have another heart attack and ended up in hospital. He then had time to think and decided to pretend not to know about the affair while hiring a private detective to follow Kim and Dave before confronting his wife with the evidence. He also hired scheming Tina Dingle as a secretary in Home Farm who used to wind Kim up by wearing her dresses that Frank had bought. He offered her a million pounds to dump Dave and name him as the father and Kim accepted. Their son was named James Francis Tate.
However, after bonding with the baby, Kim and Dave resumed their relationship, despite the fact that he was now married to Kathy. They planned to run away together, but a fire broke out at Home Farm and Dave died - of injuries sustained while rescuing baby James - in hospital on Boxing Day 1996.
In February 1997, Kim disappeared from the village, and a few days later a woman was found dead at the wheel of her car. Frank identified the body as Kim; however, in May Frank was stunned when Kim returned, revealing she had paid a lookalike prostitute to drive her car around the village to fool people into thinking she was still there (when in fact she had fled to the Caribbean) and that it was her body, not Kim's, that Frank had identified. The shock caused Frank - who had spent time on remand for her murder - to have another heart attack, this time fatal. Kim watched him die, saying "You're a dinosaur Frank - and you know what happened to them", checked he was dead with her compact mirror, then coolly redid her make-up. Chris blamed her for his death and swore revenge.
In 1998, when Kim and her new husband, Steve Marchant, fell on hard times, they planned to make money by stealing a horse and selling it, after replacing it with an older horse in the hope that no-one would notice the difference.
Whilst driving the horse-box, however, Steve happened to run over Kathy. Kim managed (after narrowly preventing Steve finishing Kathy off in the hospital) to talk to Kathy while she was alone, concussed and vulnerable. She persuaded her that Steve had not stopped his vehicle when he had hit her to make her husband seem like the sole villain of the piece - even though she had helped to plan the theft of the horse.
On the day of trial in January 1999, with the lawyers questioning Kathy's validity as a witness for Steve's hit-and-run crime, Kathy herself questioned how true Kim's words had been. For this, and numerous other crooked tricks, the police were soon on her trail. Needing to escape, Kim discovered that Chris had found the money from the robbery that she had buried in Frank's grave. She confronted Chris, tried seducing him, and knocked him out with a paperweight when he was not fooled. Then she confessed that she had indeed, as he speculated, killed his father; he had died of a heart attack while she looked on - in precisely the location Chris was now lying in. She left with her son, James, in a helicopter. The pilot asked her if she was Kim Marchant, and with her final words on the show she replied, "No, Kim Tate".
She has never been seen again. Kim is consequently one of the soap's few villains never to be punished for her crimes, or properly killed off. She was sentenced by the court in her absence, regardless.
The character was selected as one of the "top 100 British soap characters" by industry experts for a poll to be run by What's on TV, with readers able to vote for their favourite character to discover "Who is Soap's greatest Legend?"