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June 18, 2021

Poisoning plot: Is time finally up for Emmerdale’s Kim Tate?

P
Pa
June 18, 2021

Love her or loathe her, the return of Emmerdale’s Kim Tate has shaken up the British soap landscape like never before. Following an absence of nearly two decades, Claire King’s character has made up for lost time, living up to her cold-hearted reputation and finding herself embroiled in an endless stream of domestic drama. The show’s latest Succession-style storyline is no exception.

Dubbed the Home Farm poisoning plot, viewers have been left on tenterhooks as a yet-to-be-identified individual is suspected of poisoning the matriarch’s brandy stash.

No doubt influenced by the hit HBO series starring Brian Cox and Matthew Macfadyen, the soap’s latest plot sees Kim invite her nearest and dearest to a dramatic dinner in which she announces her impending retirement — all in a bid to unleash backstabbing and unmask the culprit.

“When they said, ‘it’s going to be like a Succession storyline’ I was like, ‘great — but if that’s Succession, does that mean I’m going?’” laughs King, 58, of her character’s fate. “I’ve watched Succession, and I thought they were a really messed up family — more than the Tates. That’s the politest way I can put it. But then again, like the Tates, they are pretty messed up in the head.”

Declaring Emmerdale’s promotional image for the recent storyline “better than the original Succession picture”, King goes on to note the difficulties the plot posed, given on-set Covid restrictions.

“It was very clever, because we couldn’t all be in the same room at the same time,” says King. “We all did it individually, and then it was all photoshopped in, so it looked fantastic — which was very similar, actually, to the lunch party we did, because we were only allowed four cast members on set at one point.”

With seven characters required in one room for the meal’s climatic scene, King describes a comedic scenario in which four of the actors found themselves reading lines to “photos on lollipop sticks”, while the remaining three cast members “were delivering their lines from another room”.

“It was a bit of a tricky one to do actually at the time, and it took a long time, but I thought Brett Fallis, our director, did an amazing job.”

Having whittled down the list of suspects to a handful of likely individuals, Kim is alarmed to learn that the drug diazepam is discovered in Will Taylor’s toolbox, bumping him straight to the top of the list. Cue the introduction of ‘Kim Cam’. “Everyone’s loving Kim Cam!” explains King.

“They set up the horse’s head in front of the drinks trolley and Kim sets up this ruse that she’ll actually try and attract Will to come round — she makes an excuse to say that her oven door’s been broken.

“But she’s all dressed up to the nines to try and seduce him and Jamie’s watching everything from the hop office on Kim Cam. The idea is to get Will, somehow, to poison Kim’s drink, and then get him arrested and the job sorted.”

But nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems, as Jamie gets a call interrupting his surveillance operation. “The next thing, Jamie gets is a call from the police saying that his mother’s collapsed, she’s on the floor, and to get back to Home Farm,” says King. “He sees Will being arrested and Kim’s spark out.”

Could this dramatic climax to the poisoning saga really be the grisly end of Kim Tate? If so, it would be the end of an era for both Emmerdale fans and the actress who plays her. Having reprised the role of Kim back in October 2018, King has labelled her decision to return to the village a “nice little retirement job” — despite the fact her character continues to feature nearly two and a half years on.

Noting the opportunity came “at that point in my life where I thought ‘I just really don’t want to be trogging around, going on tour again — when the theatres were open’,” King took up the role following stints in hit ITV series Bad Girls and long-running soap Coronation Street.

“I was so pleased to be back,” she says, pointing out that she didn’t believe the workload was going to be “quite as much as it has been”. “I think that’s Kim’s fault really, for having too many fingers in pies and being involved with the whole village, basically.”

First arriving in the Yorkshire Dales back in December 1989, King’s character gripped audiences with her steely demeanour and no-nonsense attitude, as the Tate family became the long-term residents of Home Farm.

A character that would become known as one of the village’s most ruthless inhabitants, it was a role that saw King’s character feature on-and-off for close to a decade. Describing her character as “very Marmite”, the actress says “you either love her or hate her — or love to hate her.”

She reflects: “We know how cruel and harsh she can be but I think she’s also just very, very direct — which isn’t necessarily a trait people admire.”

But there is a definite upside and King says: “At least I get a good part to play even if people don’t particularly like her. I mean, I don’t think I would possibly like her that much in real life, but you kind of have to admire her ways — and let’s face it, it just brings that different dimension to the village as well.” Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV with an extra episode at 8pm on Thursdays.