A bikini-clad Kate Ferdinand – then Wright – was as TOWIE as they came when she tottered into the show for the Marbella special in 2015.
Back then, Kate, 29 – who was the self-styled ‘Barbie’ of Essex – loved a good beef having bust-ups with her co-stars and enjoying drama-packed reunions with on-off boyfriend Dan Edgar.
One sassy showdown saw the straight-talking star call co-star Megan McKenna a ‘dog’ before arguing it was all just banter.
The incident unfolded when James ‘Arg’ Argent asked the cast to name Pete Wicks’ dog at a quiz night – to which Kate, then 23, brutally replied, ‘Megan McKenna’.
And she refused to back down when Megan confronted her in the street, accusing Megan of threatening to “rip my f***ing head off” in retaliation.
“I know you’re fuming about the comment I made at the pub quiz but I was only joking,” she insisted.
“I thought it was quite funny. Everyone in the room laughed. It was a banter night… it wasn’t anything personal about you.”
Not one to be trifled with, Kate also got into a spat with Chloe Lewis for ‘flirting’ with Dan, reducing her former friend to tears as she branded her a ‘snake’.
“I’ve seen you with Dan flirting. I think you’re really snakey,” she sniped after learning the pair had kissed years before she was on the scene.
And when Chloe started sobbing, Kate sniped, “you always play the crying card!”
“I don’t trust her. I don’t want someone in my friendship group playing them cards,” she later decided.
As for Dan, they’d been dating since meeting on holiday in Ibiza in 2010.
But he dumped her in 2014 after landing a place on TOWIE, and when she joined the show a year later she had to watch him romance Lauren Pope and Jess Wright.
They eventually got back together but split in series 18 when she revealed Dan’s bestie, Jon Clarke, had been leaving drunken voicemails on her phone.
And when Dan confronted Jon, the latter claimed Kate had also been cheating with one of his friends.
“She’s been sleeping with my mate,” said Jon. “I wanted to tell you.”
But the merry-go-round of TOWIE tonsil tennis came to an abrupt stop when Kate quietly started dating ex-footballer Rio Ferdinand in January 2017.
Rio – whose wife Rebecca had tragically died from breast cancer two years earlier – was holidaying in Dubai when he met Kate at a friend’s BBQ, and asked his children Lorenz, 13, Tate, 11 and eight-year-old daughter Tia if he could ask her on a date.
‘I wasn’t open to bringing anyone in to be stepmum to my kids… Meeting Kate changed everything and sometimes it’s just fate,” he told OK!
That March he was spotted leaving her home in Brentwood, Essex, but Kate later admitted she had no idea their courtship would lead to marriage.
“Rio and I just clicked. I knew about the children and what had happened but at first I didn’t give it much thought,” she told the Daily Mail’s YOU magazine.
“When you meet someone you’re just enjoying the moment, not thinking about how serious things might become.”
The couple was spotted strolling hand-in-hand with Tia in July 2017, the same month that Rio sadly lost his mum Janice St Fort to breast cancer.
Kate sweetly took part in Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life with Rio’s sister Sian, and in August Kate and Rio finally went public, sharing adorable snaps from a family holiday to Portugal.
However, keen to keep Rio and his kids away from the reality spotlight, Kate banned any mention of them from TOWIE before quitting entirely to look after his children.
“I had two choices. I’m in this world with lots of drama and then I met Rio and the children and, I thought, ‘I’m with these kids, who have lost their mum, they don’t need a woman who is out all the time,'” she explained.
“They need someone at home with them. A really big part of our relationship and it working for the children is that we’ve included them in everything we’ve done.
“So from the first date, him asking me to be his girlfriend, us moving in — everything — the kids were part of it. So it wasn’t me taking their dad away from them, it was more us becoming a family unit.”
She also cut ties with numerous brands and her agent, Terry Mills, who wished her well in her new role as step-mum.
“I’m delighted that Kate has found love and we fully respect her decision in waiting to take a step out of the public eye,” he said. “We wish her all the best of luck in the future.”
And while Kate admitted that winning the children’s trust wasn’t without its challenges, Rio revealed they adored her.
“My relationship with Kate has helped in that they have got a female in the house now,” he told The Times.
“They run past me sometimes to go to her. I’ve had to go through a period of being very, very open, and men aren’t normally like that naturally.
“So having that extra person in the house who is female, who has that softer touch, I think is vitally important for the kids.”
The three youngsters played a big role in Rio’s Abu Dhabi proposal in November 2018, and while Lorenz and Tate walked Kate down the aisle at their Turkey wedding last year, it was Tia who served as her maid of honour.
And Rio admitted he broke down when he saw the foursome together.
“There was just no going back on the emotion, that’s why I had to keep my shades on!” he told OK!
“Seeing Tate and Lorenz walk Kate down the aisle was particularly poignant and we wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way.
“They were so proud and they couldn’t wait to do that, they felt important.”