Emmerdale's Leyla's turbulent past: Secret son, drugs battle and failed romances



Emmerdale 's Leyla Harding has had quite the time in the Dales - and she debuted in 2008 with quite the backstory.

The character, played by actress Roxy Shahidi, has been in the village for around 15 years, but she did take a two-year break before making a big return in 2013.

Leyla has been at the centre of some of the ITV soap's biggest storylines, and recently we saw her nearly killed twice, after a year of hell also saw her marriage break down after the death of her stepdaughter, while she also sadly suffered a miscarriage.

After a battle with drugs and leaving her son Jacob Gallagher in danger, the character is trying to get her life back on track. Here, we take a look over the fan favourite's turbulent past...

Emmerdale's Leyla Harding has had quite the time in the Dales
Emmerdale's Leyla Harding has had quite the time in the Dales ( ITV)

Secret son

A couple of years after Leyla's debut, her sister Alicia arrived along with her partner Justin and son Jacob.

However it was soon revealed that Leyla was secretly Jacob's biological mother, and she had planned to have a termination.

Alicia couldn't get pregnant and asked Leyla if she and Justin could adopt her baby to which she agreed, with the couple raising Jacob as their own child.

Leyla with her son Jacob Gallagher now
Leyla with her son Jacob Gallagher now ( ITV)

It later emerged Justin was the biological father after a one-night stand. It wasn't until 2013 that Jacob learned the truth, and he wasn't too nice about it.

Eventually, Leyla became a part of Jacob's life and they got closer - and when Alicia moved to Portugal a few years later, Jacob decided to stay with her and his stepfather David Metcalfe,

Drug battle and near-death hell

Leyla and Liam have split
Leyla and Liam have split ( ITV)

Leyla was revealed to be using drugs in scenes last year, with it soon confirmed she had a secret addiction to cocaine.

Before her family learned the truth, husband Liam Cavanagh was horrified to find her collapsed at home and close to death.

It was revealed she had suffered a drug overdose, and in the fallout she attended rehab.

When she returned to the village she became tempted by drugs again, and when Jacob caught her with cocaine he feared she had relapsed, so he set out to confront her dealer Callum.

After a fight Jacob was stabbed and almost killed, so Leyla tried to get Callum sent down - only to land her and others in danger once more.

Callum kidnapped and planned to kill Leyla before holding Jacob and Suzy hostage too, but he was soon arrested - while he has since been released on bail.

Failed romances

Leyla and David were on and off
Leyla and David were on and off ( ITV)

Leyla has been caught up in many affairs, weddings and romances since 2008.

She had an on and off romance with David Metcalfe after her debut, and the pair have since had the odd reunion - or have at least been accused of such.

Leyla also had an affair with Jai Sharma years ago, which was revisited when she kissed him in recent scenes.

Leyla enjoyed a fling with Jai Sharma
Leyla enjoyed a fling with Jai Sharma ( We Love TV)

She was also engaged to his brother Nikhil Sharma and was torn between both men, leading to the brothers falling out.

Then there was Pete Barton, who Leyla got as far as the wedding day with until they both called it quits - both attempting to flee the wedding but getting stuck in a window.

More recently, Leyla has been married to Dr Liam but a string of tragedies pushed them apart and they broke up.

Leyla and Nikhil were engaged
Leyla and Nikhil were engaged ( Shared Content Unit)

After Leyla was shot by killer Meena Jutla who had killed Liam's daughter Leanna, and tried to kill him too, the pair struggled to cope.

Leyla also suffered a miscarriage and then became addicted to drugs, and eventually the pair called time on their marriage.

Now, Leyla has her eye on newcomer Caleb Miligan and the pair have been getting pretty steamy in recent episodes.

Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7:30pm on ITV1 and ITVX, with an hour-long episode on Thursdays.

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