Emmerdale real life deaths – accidental fall, cancer battles and sudden passing

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    Emmerdale is known for producing gut-wrenching storylines that deal with death and other tragedies.

    Most recently, the soap said goodbye to fan-favourite Faith Dingle who lost her battle with cancer.

    Throughout its 50-year run, the characters in the Dales have faced a number of tragedies – but these sadly don't end with the soap.

    READ MORE: Emmerdale Sam Dingle star's life – real accent, ripped abs and hidden talent

    In recent years, cast member's storylines have mirrored their own lives, with many of the iconic stars passing away in real life.

    From a four week cancer battle to death aged 31, Daily Star has looked at the Emmerdale stars who have died in recent years.

    Leah Bracknell

    Leah Bracknell played long-running character Zoe Tate on Emmerdale for 16 years.

    The actress made her first appearance in 1989 and starred in more than 1,400 episodes before departing the soap for good in 2005.

    In 2016, Leah announced she had been diagnosed with stage 4 terminal lung cancer.

    Due to lack of options available on the NHS, Leah's husband Jez Hughes launched a fundraising page to help her access treatment overseas.

    With the help of fans, more than £50,000 was raised to help pay for her treatment in Germany.

    However, Leah revealed her cancer treatment had stopped working and she passed away aged 55 in 2019.

    In her final blog post, the actress wrote a poem entitled A Cancer Rebel's Manifesto for Life where she detailed going from a cancer "victim" to a rebel".

    "For I am a CANCER REBEL with a fierce heart, an independent mind, a warrior spirit, and an ocean of desire to keep on keeping on and making a difference and making a noise as long as there is sweet breath in my body.

    "To LIFE. Long and sweet may it be for us all."

    Sam Gannon

    Sam Gannon died suddenly at the age of 31 while travelling in California in August 2022.

    The actor appeared in two episodes of the ITV soap as Kev, a horse-drawn carriage coachman back in 2019, and shared the screen with Charity Dingle star Emma Atkins.

    He had been staying with family in Willows, California at the time of his death.

    Sam's mother, Angela Gannon, told the BBC that a heart condition he had from birth had "reared its ugly head" in recent months.

    She explained: "You just don't expect these things to happen, especially to a young man of 31 who was having the time of his life. He was having a great time, up in the mountains shooting tin cans, building stables for horses."

    Sam's death was not treated as suspicious by police.

    Andy Devine

    Soap icon Andy Devine played Shadrach Dingle for 10 years.

    Loveable rogue Shadrach officially departed Emmerdale in 2010, with his beloved character killed off in an emotional episode which saw him tragically drown as part of a harrowing alcohol abuse storyline.

    In May 2022, it was announced that the actor had passed away aged 79 as a result of "hospital-acquired pneumonia" after a fall.

    The announcement came months after his actual death on January 27.

    Sefton Senior Coroner Julie Goulding said the soap star had fallen on the floor and was there for about an hour, "unable to get up until his carers arrived".

    She said Andy's condition went on to deteriorate, "culminating in his death" in Southport Hospital.

    His Emmerdale co-star Liam O'Brien, who played Ethan Blake on the soap for three years, said: "Heartbroken to hear of the passing of an old friend.

    "Even sadder that he passed in January and never knew. I was by the sea now when heard the news and Andy Devine was a sailor through and through.

    Shirley Stelfox

    English actress Shirley Stelfox was best known for her portrayal as Dales resident Edna Birch – a role she played for 15 years.

    The outspoken yet warm-hearted character loved dogs, was known for her copious amounts of gossip and was rarely seen without her iconic hat.

    Edna made her first appearance in 2000 and was a regular until 2015 before she passed away in hospital of ovarian cancer.

    The heartbreak came in real life however as the actress tragically passed away from terminal cancer just four weeks after her diagnosis in 2015.

    John Whiston, ITV's creative director for soaps at the time, said at the time: The family here at Emmerdale are deeply saddened by Shirley's passing. It is hard to imagine Emmerdale without her.

    "We offer our condolences to Shirley's family and share our feeling of loss with the millions of viewers who will miss Edna enormously."

    Kitty McGeever

    Kitty McGeever made history when she was cast as Lizzie Lakely in Emmerdale, becoming the first blind actress to be cast in a British soap.

    She first appeared in 2009 and remained on the soap for four years, with Emmerdale producer Kate Oates stating there had been plans for her to return shortly after her exit.

    This never happened however as the actress sadly passed away aged 48 in 2015.

    Kitty had been diagnosed with diabetes as a teen and developed pre-eclampsia while pregnant with her son, Felix who was born in 2001.

    When Felix developed health problems at four months, Kitty also became ill with stress.

    The actress suffered with heart problems, kidney failure and diabetic retinopathy – which resulted in the loss of her sight.

    It was later revealed Kitty was awaiting a kidney transplant when she died and had asked for her organs to be donated.

    Kate Oates said: "Sadly she ran out of time on that, but what she did do was donate her liver and also her corneas, so Kitty's family and Kitty have hopefully given the gift of life to someone else through this tragedy, which I think is just a wonderful thing."

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    • Emmerdale
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