Emmerdale dedicates two episodes to Zoe Tate actress Leah Bracknell after tragic death

Emmerdale have dedicated Thursday night's two episodes to Leah Bracknell after her tragic death at the age of 55.

Leah, who starred as Zoe Tate on the hit ITV soap, passed away in September three years after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

Her passing was confirmed to fans on Wednesday afternoon, with some questioning why that evening's episode wasn't dedicated to the late star.

However, before the first on Thursday night's two episodes aired on ITV an announcer paid tribute to the actress.

Prior to the first episode airing, a voice told viewers: "Tonight's episodes of Emmerdale are dedicated to Leah Bracknell, who played Zoe Tate."

Fans were quick to flood social media to praise the network over their tribute, with one writing: "Wonderful tonight`s episodes of #Emmerdale are dedicated to Leah Bracknell who played Zoe Tate.

"A fine actress & #LGBTQ icon. She was the first lesbian character in a British Soap. According to cast. One of the kindest & most lovely person you could meet. RIP [sic] "

A second wrote: "Well done @emmerdale lovely tribute to the beautiful #LeahBracknell she was a fantastic actress Who played a legend of a character as Zoe Tate & was so very brave kind and such a lovely lady in her real life Rest in peace [sic] "

A third added: "Nice touch of class from @emmerdale dedicating tonight’s episodes to the memory of Leah Bracknell."

The soap tweeted their condolences after the news of Leah's death broke on Wednesday afternoon, writing: "Everyone on Emmerdale is very sad to hear of the death of Leah Bracknell.

"She was a hugely popular member of the Emmerdale cast for over 16 years. Leah was a very generous and caring colleague, much loved by cast and crew alike."

Leah's former Emmerdale co-stars also took to social media to pay tribute to the star, with Charley Webb tweeting a gorgeous image of Leah to her 448,000 followers, simply writing: "The most beautiful soul," alongside a broken heart emoji.

Sally Ann Matthews, who played Sandra Briggs on the soap, wrote: "So sorry to hear that the beautiful soul, Leah Bracknell, has lost her battle with cancer. The world has lost a little sparkle."

Lisa Riley, who recently returned to the soap after an 18 year break, said: "GOD BLESS YOU LEAH a true angel to work with.

"You lost your battle far far to young. R.I.P. heaven gains an angel of the truest form [sic] ."

Kelli Hollis, who also worked with Leah on Emmerdale, said: "So sad to hear the amazing and kind @LeahBracknell has passed away.

"I had a great time when I worked with her on emmerdale 16 years ago. And we stayed in touch ever since. Very sad day now shes gone xxx [sic] "

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Leah's sad death was confirmed by her manager on Wednesday, who wrote in a statement: "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.

"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.

"Leah continued to embrace life and faced her illness with positivity. Many aspects of her journey can be found on her blog.

"Leah was best known and much loved as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale. She also had roles in Judge John Deed, A Touch of Frost, The Royal Today and DCI Banks to name just a few, as well as numerous appearances on stage and in pantomime.

"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."

The statement ended: "Her family have asked for privacy at this very sad time."

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