Apr 2008: First appears visiting daughter Gennie in hospital
When Gennie got to know her biological father Shadrach Dingle and his family, Brenda was upset and left the village
Jul 2008: Returns, concerned by the way Gennie had changed and decides to stay until Gennie agrees to go home with her
Gets a job at the Post Office/Cafe in the village, working for Bob Hope and renting his flat for her and Gennie
Develops feelings for Bob, who fixes her up with Terry Woods
Buys into the Café becoming business partners with Bob Hope
Jan 2011: Boyfriend Terry is killed in the Café fire
Starts a relationship with Bob and is given a granddaughter after Gennie gives birth to her and her fiancé Nikhil Sharma’s baby, Molly
2013: Diagnosed with a brain tumour after almost running over rival Val Pollard
Initially refuses treatment but then collapses at Gennie and Nikhil’s wedding and agrees to the surgery
Jul 2013: Prepares a surprise wedding to Bob as he proposes which she accepts. They get married in a handfasting ceremony preformed by Gennie
Gennie is killed in what is reported as a car accident but is actually murdered by Cameron Murray
Mar 2015: Bob’s troublesome daughter Carly returns to the village having left her fiancée and stays with Brenda and Bob. Carly tries to break up Bob and Brenda’s marriage
Lesley is best known for her roles as Anna Kirkwall in Where the Heart Is and her current role as Brenda Hope in Emmerdale.
Daughter of the television writer Pat Dunlop, she began as a child actress in the 1970s featuring in a BBC version of the classic A Little Princess and as Lydia Holly in the ITV adaptation of South Riding. She studied at the Arts Educational Schools
Her transition to adult roles began by playing Lizzie Hexam in a BBC version of Charles Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend in 1976 and featuring in the very first series of the long-running hospital drama Angels.
She was cast alongside Diana Rigg and Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (1977), and appeared in Roman Polanski’s Tess (1979). The following year she played Nora, the nurse who is at first terrified by The Elephant Man and then befriends John Hurt’s character in David Lynch’s 1980 Oscar nominated film. She also appeared in the horror anthology film The Monster Club (1981) as Luna, the human ghoul who befriends Stuart Whitman.
Throughout this time and indeed throughout her career, she has regularly appeared on British TV including Murder Most English (1977), Red Shift (1977) and the film Deadly Game (1982), and made two guest appearances in Doctor Who – in Frontios in 1984 and The Happiness Patrol in 1988. In the 1990s she starred in the long-running BBC sitcom May to December as Zoe Callender alongside screen husband Anton Rodgers.
In 2000, Lesley joined the cast of the ITV series Where the Heart Is playing Anna Kirkwall.
Since 2008, she has played the role of Brenda Walker and in 2013 after her character on Emmerdale was diagnosed with a Brain tumour, Dunlop shaved her head especially for the part.
She married fellow Emmerdale actor Chris Chittell in June 2016.