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Zoe arrived in Beckindale in 1989 along with her father Frank, brother Chris and stepmother Kim. As Zoe was at university training as a veterinary surgeon, while the rest of her family moved to the village in November, Zoe did not appear until December.
In early episodes, the character of Zoe was given few lines or storylines and Leah Bracknell has been quoted as stating she considered quitting the soap at this point.
When the programme was revamped around the time of the infamous plane crash, which left Zoe's brother Chris in a wheelchair, the character of Zoe ended her relationship with local farmer Archie Brooks and came out as a lesbian.
Zoe was the first lesbian character on a UK soap, ahead of Beth Jordache on Brookside. She was involved in the first lesbian "wedding" In May 1996 (a commitment ceremony with no legal effects, as civil partnerships had not at that time been brought into force in the UK) on British TV. Zoe "married" her long-term girlfriend, Emma, only for the relationship to end very shortly afterwards thanks to Zoe becoming involved with Emma's ex, Susie. After Susie and Zoe split, Zoe dated Sophie Wright, the nanny to Zoe's half-brother, James, and Frankie, a local truck driver who worked for one of the family businesses, Tate Haulage. She also had a fling with married woman Becky Cairns.
Zoe began to suffer from mental illness after shooting dead her half-brother, Liam, in the culmination of a plot where a vengeful Liam, conceived as a result of an affair of Zoe's father, Frank, kidnapped Chris and Zoe. Zoe's personality changed a great deal after this ordeal. She began an affair with Chris's lover Charity Dingle and exhibited obsessive behaviour trying to persuade Charity to leave Chris, even referring to her once-loved brother as a 'cripple'. She also recorded a conversation in which Charity admitted to the affair and used it to blackmail her. Charity finally told Chris what was going on and Chris chose Charity over Zoe. Zoe became very depressed and began drinking heavily and talking to her dead father Frank. After burning down the local church, Zoe was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Zoe and ScottEdit
During a schizophrenic episode, Zoe slept with local mechanic Scott Windsor, an event she was later unable to remember. Zoe's resulting pregnancy left her bewildered. Previously, reference had been made to Zoe wanting children (she discussed with previous girlfriend, Sophie, the possibility of them having a baby together) and she made the decision to keep the baby conceived with Scott. This was their daughter Jean, named for Zoe's late mother. When Scott stepped in to claim paternity of the child, he found himself facing rape charges, before eventually being cleared. After Chris's death Zoe and Scott briefly attempted a relationship, but Zoe ended their faltering romance with a short lived affair with the family's lawyer, Rachel, with whom she was caught in a passionate clinch by Scott's mother, Viv Windsor.
Zoe planned to leave for New Zealand taking Jean with her. When Scott proposed to her, she told him that she would "rather stick needles in her eyes" than marry him. Scott then tried to rape her and Zoe injected him with horse ketamine in self defence, before injecting him a second time while he was unconscious on the floor. Zoe was tried for attempted murder, but the case collapsed when it was revealed that Scott had threatened witness Paddy Kirk. Zoe left Emmerdale on 22nd September 2005. Scott threatened her with a gun but Zoe made good her escape with Jean and Joseph, her orphaned nephew (of whom she has custody following the deaths of Chris and his ex-wife, Rachel). Before leaving, Zoe was allowed one final act of revenge as she engineered a devastating and spectacular explosion at the former Tate family home, Home Farm, which she had been conned into selling to the King family. (Her timing was just right. Tom King, Jimmy King and Max King were standing outside as it happened!)