Leah Bracknell

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Leah Bracknell
Zoe tate leah.jpg
Bracknell as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale
Alison Rosalind Bracknell

(1964-07-12)12 July 1964
Died15 September 2019(2019-09-15) (aged 55)
Alma materWebber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1976–2015

Alison Rosalind Bracknell[1] (12 July 1964 – 15 September 2019),[2] known professionally as Leah Bracknell, was an English actress, known for her role as Zoe Tate in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale (1989–2005), for which she was nominated for the 2002 National Television Award for Most Popular Actress and won the 2006 British Soap Award for Best Exit. She was also a qualified teacher with the British School of Yoga and designed and produced a jewellery line.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Born in Westminster, London,[5] Bracknell was the daughter of English television director David Ian Bracknell (1932–1987) and Chinese-Malaysian actress Li-Er Hwang.[6][7][8] Her parents met while filming The World of Suzie Wong in Hong Kong in 1959. David was an assistant director and Li-Er played the part of "Wednesday Lu" in the film. The adopted name "Leah" is an anglicization of her mother's name "Li-Er". Bracknell grew up in London and Oxford and spent a year in New Zealand and Fiji.[9]


Bracknell first appeared on the TV series The Chiffy Kids in 1976, which was directed by her father, David.[10] After leaving Emmerdale, she returned to the theatre and appeared as Mrs Manningham in Gaslight and Strangers on a Train.[11]

In 2008, she joined the touring Theatreworks production of Turn of the Screw to play the lead role, that of the governess.[12] She also appeared in the TV dramas Judge John Deed, Casualty 1907 and in the daytime soap Doctors.[1] In June 2007, she joined the cast of ITV1 daytime soap The Royal Today as Matron Jenny Carrington.[3]

Within two years of leaving the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art she was cast in the ITV1 soap opera, Emmerdale playing the role of vet and land owner, Zoe Tate.[13] She appeared in the programme for 16 years (with breaks, including two spells of maternity leave) until leaving the series in 2005. She was initially only due to leave the series for nine months but did not return.[14] The character was the first lesbian in a British soap and at the time was one of the longest-featured gay characters on television.[13]

Bracknell won the 'Best Exit' award at the British Soap Awards in May 2006 for her exit from the role of Zoe Tate.[15] In 2002, she was nominated for 'Most Popular Actress' at the National Television Awards and "Best Dramatic Performance" at the British Soap Awards.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Bracknell had two children, and lived her final years in Worthing, Sussex.[16] She taught meditation and yoga in Baildon, Bradford, after leaving Emmerdale.[16][17]

In October 2016, Bracknell said she had been diagnosed with stage 4 terminal lung cancer.[18] A fundraising appeal to pay for experimental treatment in Germany hit its target of £50,000 within three days.[19] She appeared on This Morning and Loose Women to talk about her cancer and determination to fight it.[20]

In August 2019, Bracknell said she was in an immunotherapy clinical trial.[21] She died in September 2019 at the age of 55, which was announced on 16 October.[1][12]


Year Title Role Notes
1976 The Chiffy Kids Unnamed 1 episode
1989–2005 Emmerdale Zoe Tate Series regular
2007 Judge John Deed Dr. Mary Moon 2 episodes
2007 Doctors Jennifer Bryant 1 episode: "Brotherly Love"
2008 The Royal Today Jenny Carrington Main role
2008 A Touch of Frost Caroline Frost 2 episodes
2009 Doctors Stella Davids 1 episode: "Great Expectations"
2011 DCI Banks Maria 1 episode: "Playing with Fire: Part 1"
2011 Doctors Amanda Lord 1 episode: "Awake"
2015 A Dark Reflection Isabelle Morris Film


  1. ^ a b c "Former Emmerdale actress Leah Bracknell dies". Sky News. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  2. ^ GOV.uk - Find A Will: Bracknell, Alison Rosalind Ai-Ling
  3. ^ a b Emma Clayton. "Multi-faceted life of Leah away from TV". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Leah gets ready to shine in glittering new career". Yorkshire Post. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Me & my health: Leah Bracknell". 22 January 2004. Archived from the original on 9 November 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Topfoto – Preview IPU410017 – CHINESE ACTRESS LI ER HWANG TO WED DAVID BRACKNELL / 4 MARCH 1961". topfoto.co.uk. 7 February 2015. Archived from the original on 22 June 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  7. ^ "1961 Press Photo Actress Hwang Producer Bracknell After Civil Ceremony – Historic Images". Historic Images. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Newspaper Article – ...INFORMAL CHAT WITH TWO ADMIRERS". nlb.gov.sg. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  9. ^ "Henley on Thames News – Soap star reveals her guilty panto secret". henleystandard.co.uk. Archived from the original on 20 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Leah Bracknell: Pioneering Emmerdale star who refused to be cancer 'statistic'". Yorkpress.co.uk.
  11. ^ "BBC – Norfolk – Entertainment – Review: Strangers On A Train". Bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 31 January 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  12. ^ a b Randell, Louise (16 October 2019). "Emmerdale's Leah Bracknell dies at 55 as she loses her battle with lung cancer". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Ex-Emmerdale star Leah Bracknell pens moving 'cancer rebel manifesto'". 17 July 2019. Archived from the original on 17 July 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  14. ^ "BBC NEWS – Entertainment – Emmerdale star to take yoga break". bbc.co.uk. 26 March 2005.
  15. ^ a b "Who did Leah Bracknell play in Emmerdale?". 17 July 2019. Archived from the original on 18 July 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Terminally ill Leah Bracknell reveals heartbreaking fears over leaving her daughters behind". Closeronline.co.uk. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Leah Bracknell: Yoga For Life – Cultivating Inner Peace and Radiant Energy". Amazon.co.uk. 9 May 2011. Archived from the original on 23 August 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Zoe Tate: Ex-Emmerdale actress has terminal cancer". BBC News. Archived from the original on 6 October 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Leah Bracknell: Cancer appeal for ex-Emmerdale actress hits target". BBC News. Archived from the original on 8 October 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Leah Bracknell bravely discusses terminal cancer on Loose Women". Entertainmentdaily.co.uk. 24 February 2017.
  21. ^ Killelea, Amanda (23 August 2019). "Emmerdale's Leah Bracknell still hoping for cancer miracle as she embraces life". Mirror.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 September 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2019.

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