Joseph was born prematurely on 8th June 1995 to Chris Tate and Rachel Hughes. He was named after Rachel's former stepfather Joe Sugden – who had died two days before – and her brother Mark Hughes. Chris was nowhere to be found when Rachel went into labour, but Kathy Tate, Chris's ex-wife, stayed with her and later became Joseph's godmother. Six months after Joseph's birth, Chris and Rachel got married however, they split up within the year. In late 1998, Rachel started a relationship with teacher Graham Clark. He murdered her a month before Joseph turned four, so Joseph went to live with Chris. In 2001, Chris married Charity Dingle and Joseph choose to go to boarding school. On 17th September 2003, Chris committed suicide, leaving Joseph an orphan. Chris' sister Zoe took custody of Joseph and in 2005 they emigrated to New Zealand with Zoe's daughter Jean.