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|Portrayed by||Claire King|
|First appearance||12 December 1989|
|Introduced by||Stuart Doughty (1989)
Mervyn Watson (1997)
|Classification||Former; regular (returning)|
Kimberley Jane "Kim" Marchant (also Barker and Tate) is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Claire King. One of the Emmerdale's most popular characters ever, many of Kim's storylines revolved around her volatile, turbulent marriage to Frank Tate (Norman Bowler), which who in her decade-long stint on the show, she divorced, remarried and was widowed by. She embarked on two affairs, with The Rt Hon. Neil Kincaid (Brian Deacon) in 1992 and Dave Glover (Ian Kelsey) in 1996, as well as a third ill-fated marriage to her second husband, Steve Marchant (Paul Opacic). Her other major storylines included her many feuds, notably with stepson Chris Tate (Peter Amory), her unlikely friendship with Seth Armstrong (Stan Richards) and faking her own death in order to get revenge on her husband.
The character was selected as one of the "top 100 British soap characters" in a poll run by What's on TV, with readers also voting on "Who is Soap's greatest Legend?"
Kim Barker was born in January 1959, and 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 in 1986. 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, but her marriage to Frank soon wore her down.
The Tate family move to Beckindale in late 1989 as the new owners of Home Farm. Despite an initial hostile reception from the villagers, including the arson of one of the family's caravans in 1990, they soon settle in and the family are happy for a short time. However, when Kim becomes pregnant and later loses the child, Frank falls into a deep depression and turns to alcohol, neglecting Kim in the process. She becomes friends with The Rt Hon. Neil Kincaid, a family friend who is much closer to her own age and shares her equine interests. The pair find themselves travelling to auctions together and eventually, realizing their attraction to one another, consummate their relationship and embark on an affair. They soon come under threat from Kathy Tate (Malandra Burrows) when she discovers a hotel bill that Neil accidentally dropped at Home Farm. The secret remains safe until Christmas Day 1992, when Frank finds an expensive watch he'd believed to be his being worn by Neil, and Kim is thrown out of Home Farm by Frank, residing at Neil's into the New Year and divorcing her husband. After Kim and Frank separate in 1993, she sets up stables under her maiden name of Kim Barker. This, however, doesn't last long as the stables are 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 reconcile, remarrying in December 1994. However, Zoe and Chris never trust her again.
In 1995, Kim begins an affair with Dave Glover (Ian Kelsey), boyfriend of Kim's former stepdaughter-in-law Kathy, who is now divorced from Chris. This time Kim is much more ruthless about keeping the affair secret and tramples Kathy's brother Nick with her horse when he threatened to expose her. She also threatens Nick's daughter Alice. When Frank has a heart attack and is advised to take it easy, Kim encourages him to sleep with her in the hope of inducing another heart attack. Kim became pregnant and isn't sure who the father is. When Frank overhears Dave and Biff Fowler (Stuart Wade) discussing the situation, he has another heart attack and ends up in hospital. He then has 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 hires scheming Tina Dingle as a secretary in Home Farm who uses to wind Kim up by wearing her dresses that Frank had bought. He offers her a million pounds to dump Dave and name him as the father and Kim accepts. Their son was named James Francis Tate.
However, after bonding with the baby, Kim and Dave resume their relationship, despite the fact that he is now married to Kathy. They plan to run away together, but a fire breaks out at Home Farm and Dave dies - of injuries sustained while rescuing baby James - in hospital on Boxing Day 1996.
In February 1997, Kim disappears from the village, and a few days later a woman was found dead at the wheel of her car. Frank identifies the body as Kim; however, in May Frank is stunned when Kim returns, 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 is her body, not Kim's, that Frank had identified. The shock causes Frank - who had spent time on remand for her murder - to have another heart attack, this time fatal. Kim watches him die, saying "You're a dinosaur Frank - and you know what happened to them", checks he is dead with her compact mirror, then coolly redid her make-up. Chris blames her for his death and swears revenge.
After Frank's will is read out, Kim inherits a half share of Home Farm. She later starts seeing Steve Marchant (Paul Opacic) (who later became her husband), who also had a share in Home Farm. In September 1998, the couple fall on hard times and they plan 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 runs over Kathy. Kim manages (after narrowly preventing Steve finishing Kathy off in the hospital) to talk to Kathy when she is alone, concussed and vulnerable. She persuades her that Steve did not stop his vehicle when he 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, when the lawyers begin to question Kathy's validity as a witness for Steve's hit-and-run crime, Kathy herself begins to question how true Kim's words are. For this, and numerous other crooked tricks, the police are soon on Kim's trail. Needing to escape, Kim discovers that Chris has found the money from the robbery that she had buried in Frank's grave. She confronts Chris, tries seducing him, and knocks him out with a paperweight when he is not fooled. Then she confesses 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 is lying in. She leaves with her son, James, in a helicopter. The pilot asks her if she is Kim Marchant, and with her final words on the show she replies, "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.
In 2005, she sends flowers to Emmerdale for the funeral of Seth, and it is believed that she has since resided in Ireland.