Leah Bracknell

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Leah Bracknell
Alison Rosalind Bracknell

(1964-07-12) 12 July 1964 (age 54)
ResidenceWorthing, England
Alma materWebber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1976–present

Alison Rosalind Bracknell (born 12 July 1964), known professionally as Leah Bracknell, is 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 is also a qualified teacher with the British School of Yoga and designs and produces her own line of jewellery.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Westminster, London, Bracknell is the daughter of the late English television director David Ian Bracknell (1932–1987) and Chinese-Malaysian actress Li-Er Hwang.[3][4][5] 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.[6]


Bracknell first appeared on TV series The Chiffy Kids in 1976, which was directed by her father, David. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. After leaving Emmerdale, she returned to the theatre appearing as Mrs Manningham in "Gaslight" and "Strangers on a Train". In 2008, she joined the touring Theatreworks production of Turn of the Screw to play the lead role, that of the governess. She has also appeared in the TV dramas Judge John Deed, Casualty 1907 and in the daytime soap Doctors. In June 2007, she joined the cast of ITV1 daytime soap The Royal Today as Matron Jenny Carrington.[1]


After attending the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art within two years of leaving she was cast in the ITV1 soap opera, Emmerdale playing the role of vet and land owner, Zoe Tate. She appeared in the programme for 16 years (with breaks, including two spells of maternity leave) until leaving the serial in 2005. She was initially only due to leave for nine months but has not returned since.[7] The character was the first lesbian on a British soap and was one of the longest-featured gay characters on television, as well as lead actress on the show.

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

Personal life[edit]

She has two children and lives in Worthing, Sussex. She has taught meditation and yoga since leaving Emmerdale.


In October 2016, Bracknell revealed that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 terminal lung cancer.[8] A fundraising appeal to pay for experimental treatment in Germany hit its target of £50,000 within three days.[9] Bracknell made appearances on This Morning and Loose Women where she talked about her cancer and her determination to fight it.



  1. ^ a b Emma Clayton. "Multi-faceted life of Leah away from TV". Bradford Telegraph and Argus.
  2. ^ "Leah gets ready to shine in glittering new career". Yorkshire Post.
  3. ^ "Topfoto - Preview IPU410017 - CHINESE ACTRESS LI ER HWANG TO WED DAVID BRACKNELL / 4 MARCH 1961". topfoto.co.uk. 7 February 2015.
  4. ^ "1961 Press Photo Actress Hwang Producer Bracknell After Civil Ceremony – Historic Images". Historic Images. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Newspaper Article - ...INFORMAL CHAT WITH TWO ADMIRERS". nlb.gov.sg.
  6. ^ "Henley on Thames News - Soap star reveals her guilty panto secret". henleystandard.co.uk. Archived from the original on 20 August 2014.
  7. ^ "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - Emmerdale star to take yoga break". bbc.co.uk.
  8. ^ "Zoe Tate: Ex-Emmerdale actress has terminal cancer". BBC News. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Leah Bracknell: Cancer appeal for ex-Emmerdale actress hits target". BBC News. Retrieved 8 October 2016.

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