Rachel Hughes arrived in Beckindale in 1988 with her mother Kate and brother Mark after her parents divorced. Her mother began a feud with Joe Sugden in late 1988 after he shot and killed her dog because it was bothering his sheep. However, in early 1989, Joe and Kate fell in love and were married in April that year and Rachel was more accepting of her mother's new relationship unlike her brother Mark who wanted their parents to reconcile. Rachel began an affair with married man Pete Whiteley on her 18th birthday. He ended it when his wife, Lynn, became pregnant and they moved away from the village. Pete later returned and began seeing Rachel again until he was accidentally run over and killed by Rachel's mother, Kate. Lynn later got her revenge on Rachel by embarking on a relationship with Rachel's former stepfather, Joe. On 30th December 1993, a plane exploded over Beckindale, killing Rachel's brother, Mark. The disaster also left Chris Tate in a wheelchair. Rachel then began giving Chris swimming lessons and they embarked an affair. Chris's wife Kathy saw them kissing on their third wedding anniversary and attacked Rachel, banging her head against a wall. In December 1994, Rachel discovered that she was two months pregnant with Chris's baby and in June 1995, she gave birth to their son, Joseph Mark Tate, on the same day her former stepfather Joe died, naming her son in his honour. Kathy was present when Rachel went into labour and stayed with her on the journey to the hospital as Chris was nowhere to be found. This led to the two women becoming best friends and Rachel named Kathy as Joseph's godmother. On 7th December 1995, Rachel and Chris got married with Jack Sugden and his wife, Sarah, as witnesses. Chris wanted them to have another child and went for fertility treatment but Rachel secretly went on the pill. Chris and Rachel split up after Chris betrayed Rachel by stealing private information from her work file and Rachel was granted custody of Joseph. In July 1997, Rachel received news that her mother Kate had died of a brain haemorrhage. Rachel then embarked on an affair with Jack Sugden after he comforted her and attended the funeral with her for support. This was her third affair with a married man. However, Jack had no intention of breaking up his marriage and returned to his wife, Sarah.
In late 1998, Rachel started dating schoolteacher Graham Clark and he began to exert control over her, by getting her to dye her hair and dress like his late wife Rebecca. In May 1999, Graham took Rachel on a picnic where she tried to end their relationship. When Graham tried to force himself on her, Rachel tried to flee but he cornered her on a clifftop. Rachel then told Graham that she knew he had killed his wife. Graham panicked and pushed Rachel off the cliff to her death. Graham then went back to the village and asked if anyone had seen her and most of the village went out to search for her. Graham looked on as a horrified Jack discovered Rachel's body.
"She didn't kill herself, did she? You killed her!" (Final lines to Graham Clark)
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