Former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell has died at the age of 55 following a battle with lung cancer, her manager has confirmed.
Bracknell, who is best known for her role as Zoe Tate in the Soap, died three years after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.
‘With the deepest sadness’
Her family confirmed the news “with the deepest sadness”, revealing in a statement that Bracknell passed away last month, three years after her diagnosis.
The statement from Bracknell’s manager on behalf of her family read, “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 four lung cancer.
“Leah had an energy and enthusiasm for life, a kind heart and much love to give to those around her.
“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.”
Bracknell starred as Zoe Tate in the Emmerdale for 16 years, and was the first lesbian character in a British soap.
ITV drama boss, John Whiston, paid tribute to a “much loved” former colleague, commending her trailblazing performance on the soap.
“Everyone on Emmerdale is very sad to hear of the death of Leah Bracknell,” he said in a statement.
“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."