Actress Leah Bracknell, best known for her work on the ITV serial Emmerdale, has passed away. She was 55.
According to a statement released by her management team, Bracknell – who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in October of 2016 – lost her battle with the disease last month.
The prepared declaration – submitted to the press on behalf of Bracknell’s family – states in part: “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 4 lung cancer.
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“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.”
The statement concluded with, ” 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 has asked for privacy at this very sad time.”
Born Alison Rosalind Bracknell, the actress was the daughter of UK based director David Ian Bracknell and his wife Li-Er Hwang a beloved Chinese-Malaysian actress. The couple had met while filming The World of Suzie Wong and together they raised their daughter in both London and Oxford – with a year-long sabbatical in both New Zealand and Fiji.
Bracknell made her on-camera debut at the age of 12 in an episode of The Chiffy Kids which was directed by her father. She remained out of the spotlight until joining the cast of Emmerdale (then titled Emmerdale Farm) in 1989 as a veterinary student Zoe Tate.
During her nearly 16 year-long tenure, Bracknell made British soap opera history when her character became the genre’s first lesbian character. Also noteworthy is that Bracknell would remain one of (if not the only) contracted actress on a soap opera to play a lesbian until All My Children’s Bianca Montgomery.
Bracknell is succeeded in death by her husband and partner of 13 years – Jez Hughes – and her two children Maya and Lily from a previous relationship
Soap Hub sends our sincerest condolences to Bracknell’s family and friends during this difficult time.