The actor Leah Bracknell, who has died of cancer aged 55, made her name on television playing the first lesbian character in a British soap. She joined Emmerdale as the aspiring vet Zoe Tate, whose family moved into Home Farm, in the fictional Yorkshire Dales village of Beckindale, in 1989.
Zoe was the daughter of a millionaire haulage firm boss, Frank Tate (Norman Bowler), and stepdaughter of his second wife, Kim (Claire King). Bracknell quickly outgrew life as a satellite character. Zoe took a job at a veterinary practice in the nearby village of Hotton, then left for New Zealand to become a flying vet – giving Bracknell the first of two maternity-leave breaks from the serial.