1985-1990: Arrival in Beckindale
Kathy Bates arrived in Emmerdale with her mother, Caroline, and brother, Nick, in 1985, following her parents’ separation. She was studying for her ‘A’ levels, but left school when Alan Turner gave her a job at NY Estates as a farm worker. She was put in charge of the poultry unit at Home Farm, where thousands of battery hens were reared. Eventually, it became too much for her and she walked out - which didn’t surprise Joe Sugden, who had advised against her appointment all along. She worked part-time at Emmerdale Farm and in 1988, set up a farm shop with Dolly Skilbeck and helped make goats' cheese. Kathy was also a keen horsewoman and looked after Joe and Alan's horses.
Her relationship with Jackie Merrick lasted for three years before they finally decided to marry, his impulsive nature in marked contrast to Kathy's easy-going style. When they broke up in 1987, she went out with Tony Marchant, a rich relative of NY boss Christopher Meadows. This made Jackie so jealous that he smashed up his van and pleaded with Kathy to return to him. She agreed and they became engaged, marrying in February 1988. The wedding was almost ruined when a burst water tank in the Bates’ cottage destroyed Kathy's dress, the night before. The day was saved when Annie Sugden, Dolly and Caroline altered Annie's own wedding dress - an Edwardian one worn by her own mother - which Kathy wore instead. Kathy and Jackie went on honeymoon to Tunisia and, despite unexpected adventures, enjoyed themselves. The Merricks began married life in the attic at Emmerdale Farm and were delighted when Joe offered them Demdyke in December 1988. They were always struggling financially, however, on Jackie's meagre wage, supplemented by Kathy's earnings as part-time barmaid at the Woolpack. Her hours clashed with Jackie's, so she gave it up. Jackie's death, in August 1989, devastated Kathy. She took his job as a farm labourer at Emmerdale, as well as running their own 20 acres (81,000 m2) of rented land at Home Farm, until new landlord Frank Tate evicted her in January 1990. She was particularly involved with the sheep - both 40 of her own and 650 of Emmerdale's - despite miscarrying in 1989 due to the sheep-related disease Chiamydia psittaci.
1990-1995: Relationship and marriage to Chris Tate
For several months she lost interest in everything, and only began to come out of her shell when she reluctantly joined the cast of the village play, Dracula, in January 1990. By this time, Chris Tate was keen, but she initially rejected his advances. George Starkey, a lorry-driver who also tried to date her, brought news that a cafe owner in Southampton, who was also a medium, had a message from her dead husband. Kathy went to Southampton, despite much advice not to take such things seriously but the inconclusive experience made her decide to get on with her life.
By this time, Chris Tate was becoming more important to her and their relationship flourished. In April 1990, they spent the night together and in May, much to his surprise and delight, she moved in with him at Home Farm. Any misgivings she may have had about this were heightened when Chris bought her a car after her old Citroen was written off by Rachel Hughes, to whom she was giving a driving lesson. Kathy's experiences had made her the more mature of the two, and Chris's belief that expensive gifts could solve differences would be the cause of many disagreements through their marriage. Another present - this time, from father-in-law Frank - was their matrimonial home at Mill Cottage, though the couple eventually insisted on paying him for it. No matter how agreeable the surroundings, Kathy was never one for staying at home, much as Chris would have liked her to become a full-time wife and mother. A period of filling in as her husband's secretary saw her prove the point as she secretly gained her HGV licence, celebrating by backing a giant truck into a space outside the office as Chris looked on open-mouthed! She then went on to look after Kim's horses at Home Farm before the discovery of her boss's affair with Neil Kincaid put her in an impossible position and she quit, taking up her friend Lynn Whiteley's offer to help her run the wine bar at the Woolpack, but Chris was opposed to this - not least due to Lynn's oft-expressed low opinion of him. In 1993, Kathy's frustration with her husband's attitudes and activities would lead to a brief dalliance with American wine rep Josh Lewis. She was on the point of eloping with him but on learning that Chris had been found injured in the wreckage of the Woolpack following the plane crash brought her back to her ‘senses’, and, like the dutiful wife she felt she should be, Kathy prepared herself for life with a wheelchair-bound husband in a purpose-built bungalow organized, inevitably, by her father-in-law.
In 1994, Chris and Kathy's marriage ended when he began an affair with Rachel Hughes and got her pregnant but she was present when Rachel went into labour and they rebuilt their friendship. In 1995, Kathy divorced Chris and used her divorce settlement money to buy the old school house in Emmerdale which she converted into tearooms.
1995-1996: Dave Glover
Moving on from Chris, Kathy started a relationship with Dave Glover, one of the Tates' employees. However, Dave too had been seeing somebody else - Kathy's former stepmother-in-law, Kim Tate. When Kim went back to Frank, Kathy and Dave reunited and married on 28th November 1996 but it wasn't long before Dave was seeing Kim again. Kim and Dave planned to run away with her son, James, believing that Dave was the father. Dave died in a fire at Home Farm on Boxing Day 1996, trying to save the baby that he thought was his. James eventually turned out to be Frank's child.
1996-2001: Later years in the village
In April 1996, Nick was sent to prison for accidentally shooting a poacher, and asked Kathy to look after his daughter, Alice. Although Kathy obliged Nick's request, she soon decided that she wasn't cut out for raising a young child and tried to contact Alice's Mother, Elsa. However, Kathy discovered that Elsa had moved to Australia and no longer wanted any contact with her daughter. As a result, Kathy took custody of Alice, and looked after her until Elsa returned for her in 1999.
In 1999, Kathy was ditched at the altar by her 4th fiancé Biff Fowler (Dave's former brother-in-law). Kathy was subject to many disasters. She was involved in the plane crash, when Chris's injuries meant he needed a wheelchair. She was run over, as Kim and her second husband, Steve Marchant, stole a horse from the Tates. She was subject to an attempted murder by Graham Clark, who had previously killed Kathy's best friend, Rachel. She was also involved in the accident which killed Butch Dingle when the community bus was hit by the Tate Haulage lorry. Kathy was then imprisoned for protesting against the Haulage company owned by her ex-husband. In 2000, when Jack Sugden was arrested for the murder of his estranged wife, Sarah, Kathy moved into the farm to look after Jack's children, Andy, Robert and Victoria. Kathy nearly had a mental breakdown when Robert and Andy would not stop arguing and the herd of cows contracted tuberculosis.
In November 2001, Kathy made a trip to Australia to visit Alice, but didn't like what she found, and so brought her back to England without Elsa's knowledge. Despite a solicitor warning her that without evidence of abuse, she could face charges of child abduction, Kathy was determined that Alice should remain in Emmerdale with her, and disappeared with Alice again when Elsa eventually tracked them down. After much haggling, it was agreed that Alice should return to Australia with Elsa, but Kathy would follow them to live soon after. Kathy's decision to emigrate caused much upset to Andrew Fraser, who had just declared his love to Kathy, but she insisted that she had to put her love of Alice first. Kathy left the village for Sydney on 20th December 2001, following a farewell party at The Woolpack.
While in Australia, in December 2002, news got back to Emmerdale that she had given birth to a healthy girl.
By 2003, Kathy's first three husbands had all died, although she had divorced Chris years before he committed suicide.
2005: Seth's funeral
Kathy returned in 2005 when she was accompanying Seth Armstrong back to living with his long-term companion, Betty Eagleton. However, Seth died on the flight back to the UK so Kathy stayed for the funeral before returning to Australia. Kathy's ex-boyfriend and former fiance, Biff, also returned but they did not speak to each other.
It is now presumed that Kathy was married again in Australia as her surname at her last appearance was Brookman but the name of her Australian husband and daughter are unknown. In December 2006, Alan flew out to Australia and visited Kathy for a month. He visited again for the first half of 2008. Kathy was briefly mentioned in 2015 when villagers were trying to find Betty.
- Producer Steve Frost decided to axe Kathy in 2001.
- The character made a return in 2005 following producer Kathleen Beedles's decision to temporarily reintroduce the character for the funeral of Seth Armstrong (Seth's actor Stan Richards had passed away prior to Seth's death).
- Actress Malandra Burrows was asked to reprise the role for character Jack Sugden's funeral (following the unexpected death of actor Clive Hornby) by producer Anita Turner in 2009 but Malandra was unavailable for filming.
- As of Kathy's last mention in 2015, Mr Brookman is Kathy's only surviving husband; Jackie was killed in a shooting accident in 1989, Chris committed suicide in 2003 and Dave was killed in the Home Farm fire of 1996.