EMMERDALE stars left viewers in tears as they paid heartfelt tribute to Leah Bracknell in a Tate Family Trees special.
Claire King, Emma Atkins, and Peter Amory remembered their late co-star, who passed away from lung cancer in October last year after being diagnosed with the disease in 2016.
Leah played Zoe Tate on the ITV soap between 1989 and 2005, with her character at the centre of several big plots over the years – including making history as the first lesbian character in a British soap to have a coming out storyline in 1993.
Emmerdale’s Family Trees episodes have been airing on Thursday nights in tribute to some of the ‘Dales most iconic families, with yesterday’s show remembering the Tate family’s arrival with Kim [Claire King] in 1989 – following them right up to present day.
Kim was Zoe’s stepmother, and the cast shared their memories of working with Leah during the show.
Claire recalled: “She was just the most pure, honest, beautiful person inside and out.”
Emma Atkins, who stars as Charity, added: “Leah Bracknell was a complete joy to work with, just because she was so professional, so kind. I loved her a lot.”
Peter Amory shared: “I think working with Leah was fantastic. She was basically like a sister.”
Viewers found the tributes incredibly emotional, and took to Twitter to share their response.
One wrote: “Feel a bit teary after those lovely words about Leah. A true gem through and through.”
Another added: “Hugely touching and moving tributes to Leah, she really was a class act on and off screen!”
A third shared: “I’m still so sad about Leah, she’s such a good actress.”
Emmerdale paid tribute to Leah at the time of her passing, sharing in a statement: “Everyone on Emmerdale is very sad to hear of the death of Leah Bracknell.
“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.”
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