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Thursday 14 November 2019

Former Emmerdale star Leah dies of lung cancer at 55

Actress Leah Bracknell
Actress Leah Bracknell

Former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell has died at the age of 55, three years after she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Bracknell became synonymous with Zoe Tate, the soap character she played for almost 16 years from December 1989.

Born Alison Rosalind Bracknell on July 12, 1964, the multi-talented mother-of-two was also known for her work teaching at the British School of Yoga and for creating her own line of jewellery.

Her father, television director David, first brought her acting career to the screen in The Chiffy Kids series in 1976, before she took her future into her own hands.

THEATRE

Only two years after studying at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and aged 25, she was cast in ITV's Emmerdale, where she made her mark playing the first lesbian character in a British soap.

She left the series in 2005 in an episode voted the Best Exit at the British Soap Awards in May 2006.

But that didn't spell the end of her acting career, appearing in Judge John Deed, Casualty 1907, Doctors and another ITV1 soap, The Royal Today.

She also turned her attention to theatre, starring in both Gaslight and Strangers On A Train.

In October 2016, at the age of 52, Bracknell revealed she had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Her battle with cancer came to light when her partner launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for her to undergo treatment overseas, due to a lack of options available on the NHS.

More than 2,500 fans joined together to raise £50,000 (€58,000) to help pay for cutting-edge treatment for her in Germany.

She thanked everyone involved, adding: "I really did not expect or feel deserving of such interest and kindness."

Talking in February on ITV's Loose Women she said she had a positive outlook.

She said she had formed a "relationship" with her cancer to try to understand it.

She revealed she had been diagnosed after rapid weight gain around her abdomen and breathlessness prompted her to seek medical help.

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