Leah Bracknell, an Emmerdale actress, is best known for her 16-year stint as Zoe Tate in the venerable ITV soap opera.
The only child of Frank and Jean Tate, Zoe Tate was Chris’ sister and made her television debut in 1989’s The Dale’s. But her first significant plot point came in 1993 when she came out as gay. It was a historic moment that made her the first lesbian character to ever appear in a British soap opera.
Her stepmother Kim was betrayed, and other plotlines had her father Frank (Norman Bowler) and brother Chris (Peter Amory) passing away.
However, one of Zoe’s main plots was her relationship with Charity Dingle, her brother’s wife. Chris eventually pardoned his sister though after learning about her insanity.
This was the Emmerdale plot, according to Bracknell, that she was most proud of depicting.
She stated previously: “It dealt with a specific aspect of mental health, and as it took ten months to complete, there was a lot of study required. In addition, the plot was constantly evolving.
It wasn’t just about how it affected her [Zoe], but also how it affected her family, so we wanted to get the specifics correct.”
When Zoe finally vanished in September 2005, she was looking for a new start in New Zealand. She certainly left on a high note, since she was last seen tinkering with the gas taps at Home Farm, which resulted in an explosion.
The British Soap Awards named Zoe’s exit from the show as Best Exit a year later, in 2006
What happened to actress Zoe Bracknell?
Leah returned to her theater career when the performance was over, appearing as Mrs. Manningham in Gaslight and Strangers on a Train.
She appeared in the Turn of the Screw touring performance by Theatreworks in 2008. She also starred in the daytime soap Doctors and the television dramas Judge John Deed and Casualty 1907.
Leah stepped away from the spotlight and continued to teach yoga and meditation. She established a jewelry line in addition to being a certified yoga instructor with the British School of Yoga.
Tragically, the actress received her fatal lung cancer diagnosis in October 2016 and passed away three years later.
At the time, a statement from her manager was made public on behalf of her family. It read: “They would want to express their gratitude to the general public for their kindness and support over the past three years, which helped to prolong and improve the quality of her life.
“Leah persisted in living fully and embraced her illness with optimism. You may read about many elements of her trip on her blog, somethingbeginningwithc.com.
Leah’s role as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale made her most well-known and adored. Along with several theater performances and pantomimes, she also had roles in Judge John Deed, A Touch of Frost, The Royal Today, and DCI Banks, to name a few. Leah was a skilled yoga instructor and shamanic healer in addition to her work as an actor.
“Leah had a positive outlook on life, a loving disposition, and a lot of love to give to people around her. In this really sad time, her family has requested privacy.
When her husband Jez Hughes started a GoFundMe page to gather money for her to receive treatment abroad because there weren’t any options on the NHS, Leah’s cancer diagnosis was made public in October 2016.
The former soap star had been diagnosed in September after she sought medical attention due to fast weight gain around her midsection and shortness of breath.
Fans raised more than £50,000 for Leah to have ground-breaking therapy in Germany after she was diagnosed. She started taking a new drug, but subsequently admitted that it didn’t work.
Prior to her passing, Leah made multiple public appearances where she freely discussed having cancer and the various ways she found to manage her symptoms. She also blogged about her experiences at Something Beginning With C.