Matthew King was a fictional character and anti-villain of the British soap opera show Emmerdale.
He first appeared as a central character in 2004 and went on to serve as one of the show's central protagonists and anti-villains in between 2005-2008 up until he was killed-off on his wedding day in 16 December 2008.
He was portrayed by Matt Healy.
When the Kings arrived in 2004, Matthew was always the most calculating and scheming of his family. The second son of business supremo Tom King, Matthew always had a much darker side than his brothers.
Matthew first arrived in the village to join his brothers and father. The Kings had won a contract and were celebrating at the time. Matthew's heartless nature was shown when his younger brother Carl King accidentally killed local postman Paul Marsden. Having moved the body and covered up Carl’s involvement, Matthew conned Paul’s widow, Siobhan, into selling him the cottage at a knockdown price. She left the area with her unborn baby.
At the funeral of one of Tom's closest friends, Matthew bedded the deceased's daughter before using squeeze Sian to make his next conquest Louise Appleton jealous. What Matthew wanted, he got, and it didn't take him long to convince Louise to have an affair with him. However, as soon as Louise left Terry for him, Matthew lost interest. She didn't take it well and one night, in the Woolpack, she warned Matthew's older brother Jimmy King to keep an eye on Sadie. Stunned that Louise had guessed the truth, Matthew began almost stalking Louise to make sure she kept her mouth shut but she warned him about what happened to men who mistreated her - going as far as to hint that she previously killed her previous boyfriend Ray Mullen a few years ago. Matthew was unfazed by her threats and Louise later for a holiday as she needed to clear her head.
In 2005, Matthew managed the family business called "King & Sons" on his father's behalf after Tom disowned Jimmy for being partly responsible in a incident which saw Tom's former fiancé Charity Dingle leave the village. This sparked a sibling rivalry between Matthew and Jimmy that initially calmed down when the pair and Carl mourned the death of their youngest brother Max King, who had been killed in a road accident as well as being caught in a crossfire of a feud between bad boy Robert Sugden and his half-brother Andy Sugden. At the same time, the Kings clash with Robert and Andy's father Jack Sugden in a territorial conflict.
Towards the end of 2005, Matthew began a relationship with Jimmy's estranged wife Sadie King. They had dated before but she chose Jimmy, thinking he would inherit the family business. Their affair brought out Matthew's more vulnerable side. Eventually he was in a position to take over his father's business empire, but Jimmy revealed the affair with Sadie. This prompted Tom to force Matthew in choosing between Sadie or the business, and he chose the business. In 2006, however, he couldn't live without Sadie and ruined her wedding to her subsequent spouse Alasdair Sinclair by declaring his love. Sadie encouraged him to deceive his family to gain a lucrative contract, which made them disown him for a while.
When Matthew was eventually welcomed back into the family business, Tom requested his presence in the ceremony of the company's biggest project - the Kings River Showhouse. However, the event was ruined when the Showhouse suffered a gas explosion and collapsed during the ceremony. This resulted in the deaths of three people, including local resident Dawn Woods. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Matthew learned from Jimmy that Sadie had been two-timing with Charity's cousin Cain Dingle and confronted her about it. He was thereupon horrified when Sadie confesses that she was responsible for the Showhouse Explosion, having paid Cain to vandalize the repairs in an attempt to destabilize Jimmy's progress. Furthermore, Furthermore, Matthew discovered that Sadie had tried to kill Jimmy by hitting him over the head with a brick amid the ensuing chaos. When it became clear to him that Sadie showed no remorse for Dawn's young son TJ losing his mother in the collapse, Matthew angrily dumped her and told Sadie he never wants to see her again.
The follow-up of Sadie's betrayal sees her teaming up with Cain to kidnap Tom for a £2.5 million ransom as part of her last-ditch revenge plan against the Kings. Their plot was successful until Cain betrayed Sadie by fleeing with the money on his own. Afterwards, the Kings were under dire financial straits until Tom formed a romantic partnership with Sadie's mother-in-law and Alasdair's mother Rosemary. This displeased Matthew, who quickly suspected Rosemary of having ulterior motives, but Tom nonetheless marries Rosemary on Christmas Day 2006. That night, Tom is murdered by an unseen assailant and Matthew accuses Rosemary of of committing the crime. However, there was evidence that the King brothers had killed Tom and they were charged with conspiracy to murder but the trial collapsed due to lack of evidence. Matthew attacked Jimmy, thinking he was responsible and was shocked to discover Carl was the killer and Jimmy knew. Matthew was devastated but this didn't stop him and his brothers threatening to kill Rosemary if she didn't sign Home Farm Estates over to them. Terrified, Rosemary agreed and moved into Mill Cottage with her son and daughter-in-law.
The most defining relationship Matthew had was with Perdita Hyde-Sinclair. Matthew took a keen interest in Perdy, having had a one night stand with her. This deepened into friendship and they became close, supporting each other when necessary. He wanted a more intimate relationship but she stayed with her husband Grayson Sinclair, who was also Rosemary's other son and Matthew's archenemy. Matthew soon learned that Rosemary was responsible for Perdy's troubles after Rosemary drugged her and had her sectioned. He supported Perdy as he felt responsible for Rosemary moving into Mill Cottage and they grew closer. Perdy, however, struggled with her feelings for him as she wanted to make her marriage work, especially after she discovered Katie Sugden, now her surrogate, was pregnant. Matthew stunned Perdy by telling her he would wait for her and raise the baby as his own, if it meant he could be with her. Perdy was thrilled and they carried on their affair but Grayson found out and framed Matthew for his mother's 'murder'. Perdy realized Matthew wasn't guilty when she found evidence and a letter from Rosemary, sent from Miami. Perdy told Grayson that she knew and demanded he clear Matthew's name. She kept the cardigan and used it to blackmail Grayson for sole custody of the baby. She promised, in return, that she wouldn't tell the police that he had helped frame Matthew. She left him on Christmas Day 2007 and moved in with Matthew. However, this only lasted 3 months as Matthew discovered Perdy had attacked Katie so she almost miscarried and Grayson told him that she knew about the attempt to frame him. Matthew was so horrified, he threw her out and ended their relationship. When she went to see him a few days later, he told her he'd slept with her to upset Grayson.
That summer, Matthew had alienated almost everyone - until Jimmy reminded him about the way he had treated Perdy. This caused Matthew to express signs of remorse. When Perdy's baby son was born (Perdy and Matthew delivered the baby in Matthew's car), Katie told her to take the baby and leave Grayson for ever. In a rare show of kindness, "for old time's sake", Matthew gave Perdy a cheque for £20,000, saying Katie could pay him back once she was out of hospital. Just before Perdy left, they had clearly called a truce and it was noted onscreen that the pair briefly kept in touch when Perdy sent Matthew a letter with a picture of her and the baby.
In early 2008, Carl felt increasingly isolated in the King business and family. He and Matthew embarked on a sibling rivalry after Carl decided to work for the Kings' latest arch-rival, Donald De Souza. The situation made Matthew resent his younger brother, especially when Carl interfered with their efforts to win a lucrative contract. One day during a golf game, Carl taunted Matthew about killing their father so Matthew beat Carl with a golf club. Carl refused to press charges but wasn't interested when Matthew apologized. Matthew began taking an increasingly cold approach to business, chasing away Zak Dingle, Rodney Blackstock and Jasmine Thomas for various reasons. He blackmailed Carl's new girlfriend, Lexi Nicholls, to get a job at De Souza Enterprises and pass information to him which she did, reluctantly. On learning of Carl's upcoming project, Matthew then created an identical one for King & Sons and invited Carl to the unveiling. A disgusted Jimmy pointed out to Matthew just how many people he had alienated and how lonely he'd become as he was also on the verge of disowning Matthew. Matthew saw the truth in Jimmy's warnings and came to an uneasy truce with Carl.
The love of Matthew's life turned out to be Donald's daughter, a fiery businesswoman named Anna De Souza. They first met after Carl played a silly trick, leaving her stranded in a company truck on a narrow country lane. Their first reaction was a thorny one, with Matthew annoyed that he nearly crashed into the back of the truck and Anna warning him to back off. However, the pair bonded over their mutual dislike of Carl and their similar business style. They played Carl at his own game and tricked him into believing that the truck had been impounded due to it being stolen. It soon became clear that she and Carl were attracted to each other, becoming friends and confidantes as well as business partners. Matthew was also interested but Anna initially preferred Carl after they learned to work together. Carl was about to leave Lexi for Anna when Lexi revealed that she knew he had killed Tom, making Carl feel that he had to stay with her. Anna was furious. Matthew tried to kiss Anna after the two closed a successful business deal, but she pushed him away, insisting their relationship could only ever be a business one. Undeterred, Matthew continued to chase Anna despite being knocked back a second time.
Meanwhile, King & Sons was in financial trouble and, taking pity on his brothers, Carl told one of De Souza Enterprise's richest clients about Matthew and Jimmy. When Donald learned of this, he had a heart attack. Matthew attempted to smooth things over between them, suggesting it would be more beneficial for everyone to work together. Donald agreed in Matthew's presence, but later told Anna to use Matthew's feelings for her against him. Incredulous, Anna questioned how far she was supposed to go and Donald told her to go as far as she needed to reel Matthew in so that they could "spit him back out". Unfortunately for Donald, spending so much time with Matthew meant that she and Matthew soon fell in love. Matthew was suspicious of Anna's true motives but they started a relationship. Unaware, Donald offered Anna's services as a consultant for a business trip to Warsaw, wanting her to use it to gain inside knowledge. He didn't count on Anna returning and admitting her love for his rival, destroying the information she had gathered. With a little persuasion from Katie Sugden, Matthew admitted to Anna that he shared her feelings, telling her he loved her more than he imagined possible. The lovers vowed to stick together and start anew, despite the wrath of their families. A few weeks later, Donald confronted Matthew, offering to save King & Sons from financial ruin, providing he ended things with Anna. Matthew refused and Donald warned him there would be consequences. Anna admitted feeding information to Donald but stopped as soon as she realized her feelings for him. Matthew was furious initially but believed Anna when she insisted he was more important to her than Donald and proposed to him. He accepted her proposal and insisted that he should propose and did it the next day with an antique engagement ring and booked someone to marry them.
Matthew announced the engagement to his brothers and sister while Anna told Donald and made preparations to move into Home Farm. Once again Donald begged Anna to end her relationship with Matthew, telling her she would be lost to him, but Anna refused to listen. A party was planned at Home Farm to celebrate Anna and Matthew's engagement, a successful deal with Polek Haulage, and an end to the family's financial worries. A furious Donald crashed the party and caused trouble by announcing that Anna was only marrying Matthew to destroy the family from the inside. Matthew angrily retorted that Donald had tried to buy him off and convinced his guests that Donald was lying as he wanted to ruin his and Anna's relationship. Donald then told Anna that he would disinherit her and accused the King brothers of conspiring to murder Tom. Anna reiterated that she chose Matthew and furiously ordered Donald to leave. Pained to see Anna so upset, Matthew tried to calm things by saying that all that mattered now was them and Donald would not split them up because they were too strong. While Anna slept, Matthew planned to confront Donald. A furious argument between them at Holdgate Farm that night ended in tragedy when Donald began having chest pains. Matthew didn't believe he was genuine and withheld his pills, insisting Donald could have them when he agreed to attend the wedding. Making one last plea, Donald collapsed and Matthew, panicked, cleaned the pill bottle and fled. Donald's body was found the next day by Betty Eagleton & Laurel Thomas, and Anna sobbed in Matthew's arms, thinking Donald had died, believing she hated him. Matthew, consumed by guilt, confessed to Carl who told him that the guilt would eat him alive and begged him to tell Anna. Matthew refused, clearly terrified that he would lose her. Anna, meanwhile, insisted that their wedding plans continue, as the thought of marrying Matthew was the only thing helping her through her grief.
In the run-up to the wedding, the Kings lost everything, thanks to their debts. When the lawyers told Carl about Donald's involvement, Carl thought Matthew and Anna had a secret deal to profit from the family's bankruptcy. Carl ruined the wedding by revealing Matthew's role in Donald's death and Anna fled. Back at Home Farm, Carl and Matthew had a vicious fight, barely stopped by Jimmy, who struggled to stop Matthew following Carl but Matthew smashed out a window and got a van. When he went to find Carl, Matthew didn't go far because Carl was walking up the Home Farm driveway and arguing with Anna. When Matt saw Anna with Carl, he swerved but crashed into a wall and was catapulted through the windscreen.
Having arrived, Jimmy calls and ambulance while Carl could powerlessly in shock and despair as a wounding and blooded Matthew is comforted by Anna. Matthew spills out "I love you" which turn out to be his last words as he dies of his injuries. Matthew's death may have brought sadness to Anna and Jimmy, but it brought the worst on Carl since he did not have the chance to make up with Matthew: a sad end to their brotherly bonds. Carl gave the eulogy at Matthew's memorial service, remembering the kind young man he'd been before their mother's death. Matthew's friends and family tried to reconcile the two very different sides of the man they'd lost. One of his biggest secrets was revealed after his death when Jimmy and Carl found out what he did to Rosemary's coffin.
- Matt Healy (the actor who played Matthew King) was nominated for several awards at various British Soap Award ceremonies.