Former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell, aged 55 years, has died after a three-year battle with lung cancer.

Emmerdale News: Actress Leah Bracknell dies after cancer battle
Emmerdale’s Leah Bracknell

Actress Leah Bracknell, best known for playing Emmerdale Zoe Tate, has died following a three-year battle with lung cancer. Her manager revealed in a statement that Leah had passed away last month despite all best efforts.

A statement from her manager said: “It is with the deepest sadness that Leah Bracknell’s family confirm that Leah passed away in September, three years after her diagnosis with stage 4 lung cancer.

“They would like to thank all the public for their support and generosity which contributed to the extension and quality of her life over the past three years.

“Leah continued to embrace life and faced her illness with positivity. Many aspects of her journey can be found on her blog.

“Leah was best known and much loved as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale. She also had roles in Judge John Deed, A Touch of Frost, The Royal Today and DCI Banks to name just a few, as well as numerous appearances on stage and in pantomime. As well as acting, Leah was also an accomplished yoga teacher and shamanic healer.

“Leah had an energy and enthusiasm for life, a kind heart and much love to give to those around her. Her family have asked for privacy at this very sad time.”

Diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2016, Leah’s battle was revealed when her partner launched a Go Fund Me page to raise money for her to undergo treatment overseas, due to a lack of options available on the NHS. Fans soon raised over £50,000 to help seek alternative treatments.

Leah was part of the Emmerdale cast for almost 16 years from December 1989 to 2005.

During her time in the Dales, she made history by becoming the first lesbian character in the soap. Her departure in 2005 earned her the Best Exit award at the British Soap Awards in May 2006.

John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama and head of ITV in the north, added: “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 soap’s 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.”

Our thoughts are with Leah’s partner and their two children at this very sad time.