Emmerdale’s Zoe Tate actress Leah Bracknell dies, aged 55

Bracknell was diagnosed with cancer in 2016

Leah Bracknell - Emmerdale

Ex-Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell has died, aged 55.

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Bracknell played Zoe Tate, British soap’s first lesbian character, on the ITV soap for almost 16 years from 1989.

She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2016. Paying tribute, John Whiston – MD Continuing Drama & Head of ITV in the North, said: “Everyone on Emmerdale is very sad to hear of the death of Leah Bracknell.

“Leah was a hugely popular member of the Emmerdale cast for over 16 years. During that time she featured in some of the show’s most high profile and explosive plots and always delivered a pitch perfect performance. Zoe Tate was one of soaps first lesbian characters and Leah made sure the character was both exciting and credible. Leah herself was a very generous and caring colleague, much loved by cast and crew alike.”

Leah Bracknell
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Real name Alison Rosalind Bracknell, the actress was nominated for a National Television Award in 2002 and won a British Soap Award for her portrayal of Zoe Tate, the vet and land owner.

After quitting the role in 2005, Bracknell went on to appear in episodes of Judge John Deed, The Royal Today, A Touch of Frost and DCI Banks. She also appeared on stage in Gaslight and Strangers On A Train.

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After she was diagnosed with cancer, fans raised £50,000 on a GoFundMe page to pay for Bracknell to have cutting-edge treatment in Germany.