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Gemma Oaten attends the SEED Gala 2023
Gemma played Rachel in Emmerdale (Photo by Phil Lewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Gemma Oaten is perhaps best known to Emmerdale fans as Rachel Breckle, having played the role between 2011 and 2014, before returning for a short stint in 2015 – but she was almost a contestant on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, before being dropped by the show.

Fans adored Rachel’s relationship with Sam Dingle (James Hooton) in Emmerdale, but things went wrong for them when Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins) and Declan Macey tried to frame Sam for the Home Farm fire of 2013, forcing Rachel to go on the run in order to save him from prison.

When Rachel returned after Charity was sent to prison, Sam and Rachel were unable to repair their relationship, and when her violent behaviour towards him was exposed, she left the village.

Outside of acting, Gemma has dedicated her time to raising awareness for eating disorders, following her own battle with anorexia and bulimia.

Rachel hugs Sam in Emmerdale
Emmerdale fans loved Sam and Rachel’s relationship (Picture: ITV)

As a patron of the charity SEED – Support and Empathy for people with Eating Disorders – which was set up by her parents, Gemma has worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness to help others who are struggling.

Part of this has involved sharing her own stories in the hopes that they will resonate with others.

Writing for Metro.co.uk, Gemma previously explained why her parents, Marg and Dennis Oaten, started SEED Eating Disorder Support Services, and credited them for helping her in her own recovery.

‘Early intervention is KEY when it comes to eating disorders. Because I didn’t get that I nearly lost my life’ she said.

‘However, I had a fire inside me because my parents gave me the spark by not giving up on me and by making me remember who I was.

‘And here I am today living my dreams as an actress, presenter, and public speaker…but more importantly, I am now patron and manager of SEED. A cycle. Not a vicious cycle, a full circle cycle of hope.’

Rachel Breckle in Emmerdale
Rachel was a firm fixture in the dales for over 3 years (Picture: ITV)

While her overall message is one of hope and positivity, Gemma does not shy away from sharing the hardships of eating disorder recovery, including the ‘discrimination’ she has faced along the way.

Speaking to Scott McGlynn on his Celebrity Skin Talk podcast, Gemma opened up about one such occasion, which saw her miss out on the chance to appear on I’m A Celebrity after being placed on the reserve list.

‘Unfortunately, what happens you all have to go through like psych tests and stuff,’ she explained.



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‘And I had this interview with this psychiatrist who said that if I went into the jungle and lost weight, I would become anorexic again. And I was like “Um no, that’s not how it works”.

‘I just felt like I’d been discriminated against because I’d gone through something that was painful, but actually I’m probably one of the most resilient people you’ll ever meet and I’d have been damn good in the jungle, But that was like, eight years ago.

‘I think the conversation on mental health is is a lot different now, and people are a lot more like open to that. But yeah, I was quite burned by that.’

Alongside her charity work, Gemma has continued acting, taking on roles in Coronation Street and Holby City over the last few years.

You can find information and support around eating disorders by visiting the website of SEED and calling 01482 421525.

If you’ve got a soap or TV story, video or pictures get in touch by emailing us soaps@metro.co.uk – we’d love to hear from you.

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