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 organised, 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, with Kathy even becoming Godmother to baby Joseph. 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. He helped her find the abandoned School House building were she set up her new tea rooms. 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 agreed to look after Alice, despite initially facing some opposition from Caroline, who wanted to take Alice to live with her in Scarborough, and Nick's fiance, Karen Johnson, who attempted to abduct Alice. However, Kathy was determined to fulfil Nick's wishes of having Alice with her, and took custody of her niece permanently when Nick was sentenced to ten years in prison in June 1997. Nick's sentencing gave way to mixed emotions for Kathy. Having grown very attached to Alice, she was relieved that she could keep her, however, she was also upset at the thought of her Brother spending so long in prison.
Meanwhile, Kathy agreed to go into business with Eric Pollard, allowing him to open up a wine bar within the tearooms. Although the extra money from Eric's rent came in handy for Kathy, the wine bar's unsociable hours became problematic, what with Kathy and Alice living upstairs. The pair were frequently kept up at night by noise and the final straw came when a drunken customer stumbled into the flat one evening. Kathy decided that the flat was not a suitable environment for a child and she and Alice moved in with Rachel and Joseph at Mill Cottage before taking up residence at Victoria Cottage.
Although Kathy no longer had to deal with the noise from the wine bar, the business continued to cause her problems over the months that followed as Eric plotted to force Kathy out of the business, wanting the entire premises to himself. Eric offered Kathy the services of his chef, Marlon Dingle, before poaching him back after suggesting that Kathy begin a breakfast service. The pressures of running a business with limited staff whilst also looking after Alice eventually lead to Kathy having to make some difficult decisions and Alice was frequently left home alone during the tearooms' busiest times. The situation came to a head when Eric realised that Alice was home alone and maliciously contacted the police, however, some quick thinking courtesy of Rachel diffused the matter. With Kathy becoming more and more stressed, it looked as though Eric had finally forced her out, until he lost his licence after allowing underage drinking. Realising that attempting to carry on with the wine bar would be futile, Eric agreed to Kathy's offer to buy him out. Kathy turned the tea rooms and recently vacated wine bar into an American style diner during the Summer of 1998.
As Kathy got her new business off the ground, it looked like romance could also be on the cards, as she went on a date with Biff Fowler. However, it quickly became apparent to Kathy that Biff was not over his ex, Lady Tara Oakwell, and Biff stormed off, leaving Kathy to make her way back to Emmerdale alone. After remarks from her taxi driver made her feel uncomfortable, Kathy decided to walk back to the village along the country roads, where she was hit by Steve Marchant's car. As Steve had been carrying out a robbery at the time, he left Kathy for dead, and she was in a terrible state when she was eventually found by the police some time later. Kathy spent several weeks in a coma, and it was touch and go as to whether or not she'd survive.
Despite Steve attempting to suffocate Kathy to prevent her telling the police that he'd been driving the car, Kathy regained consciousness and, against the advice of doctors, discharged herself from hospital a short time later. Although the physical injuries may have healed, it was clear that Kathy was far from back to normal, and her behaviour over the weeks that followed caused concern to her friends. She became forgetful, flying into a panic when she thought that Alice was missing when in fact her niece was exactly where she'd left her - at Rachel's. When Kathy's good friend, Betty Eagleton suggested that she seek psychological help, she flew into a terrible rage, and Rachel also found herself on the receiving end of a particularly vicious outburst. It was ex husband, Chris, who would eventually convince Kathy that, for Alice's sake, she needed to seek help.
Kathy attended counselling sessions and soon began to get back to normal again, including picking up where she’d left off with Biff. The pair decided to give a relationship a go and planned to keep things on the down low to begin with. However, their relationship was revealed to the village when Alice realised that Biff had spent the night with Kathy and told Betty and Marlon. Luckily, everyone was thrilled for the new couple, and Alice in particular was delighted to have Biff around. Unfortunately, tragedy was just around the corner, and Kathy was left devastated when Rachel was found dead. Unbeknownst to Kathy, Rachel had been murdered by her boyfriend, Graham Clark, and Graham soon shifted his attentions towards Kathy. It was around this time that Kathy and Biff got engaged, and Biff soon became concerned at the amount of time his fiancé was spending with Graham. Although Kathy insisted it was Biff she wanted to be with, Graham placed doubts in his mind, and Kathy’s feelings for Graham were supposedly confirmed on the day of their wedding, when Biff saw Kathy looking out for Graham at the alter. Deciding he couldn’t go through with the wedding, Biff jilted Kathy at the alter and left the village.
Just weeks after losing Biff, Kathy was dealt another blow when Alice’s mother, Elsa, returned to the village, looking to get to know her daughter. Kathy struggled with Elsa’s desire to be a part of Alice’s life and sought legal advice about keeping her niece in her care. However, with Alice keen to get to know her Mother, it looked as though Kathy would have a fight on her hands. Frequent rows erupted between Kathy and Elsa, upsetting Alice, and Graham certainly did nothing to help matters by planting doubts in Elsa’s mind about Kathy’s ability to care for Alice. Eventually, Kathy realised that she had to put Alice’s happiness first and agreed that she should live in Australia with Elsa.
With Kathy more alone than ever, she began to rely on Graham more and more. However, Eric was unsettled by this, having always suspected that Graham was more involved in Rachel’s death than he’d let on. Eric eventually got Marlon to come round to his way of thinking and, knowing that they were onto him, Graham booked a cottage on the coast for him and Kathy. Whilst away on their holiday, Graham told Kathy that he wanted them to move away together, but Kathy insisted that she wasn’t ready for that sort of commitment, and she planned to return to Emmerdale after the pair rowed over the matter. As Kathy was packing her things, Graham locked them in the bedroom and Kathy came to the startling realisation that he’d murdered Rachel. Kathy eventually managed to talk Graham into letting her leave the cottage, but he was hot on her trail and climbed into the car beside her. Kathy insisted that Graham must seek help, whilst he demanded she stop the car. The pair fought over the wheel and the car quickly veered off the road and hurtled towards a cliff edge. As the car teetered over the edge, Kathy reclined her seat to try and exit the vehicle by the back door, but Graham was too panicked to do likewise. Meanwhile, having grown concerned for Kathy’s safety, Marlon and Eric had gone in search of her and Graham, and arrived on the scene just as the car rolled over the cliff edge and burst into flames. As Marlon and Eric feared the worst, a hand appeared on the edge, Kathy having managed to free herself. Graham, however, had been killed.
Just weeks after this incident, Kathy was once again caught up in a disaster when a Tate Haulage lorry collided with the community bus. Kathy was one of the last to be freed from the wreckage of the bus but she ultimately survived the ordeal. After being discharged from hospital, Kathy was one of the protagonists who campaigned against Tate lorries travelling through the village, and even got herself arrested when she chained herself to a truck. However, the campaign proved to be successful when a weight limit was imposed on the road, thus ensuring that the lorries could no longer use the village as a short cut. Kathy celebrated her victory with a trip to Australia to visit Alice.
In November 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. However, there were soon happier times on the horizon when Jack was found not guilty at his trial in March 2001.
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' 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.