Emmerdale Belle Dingle stars private life from cancer heartache to love life

Eden Taylor-Draper’s life away from the spotlight is nothing like her Emmerdale character Belle Dingle’s.

The 23-year-old actress has appeared as Belle since 2005, when she was just eight years old, and since her inception on the show her character has suffered everything from the death of her mum Lisa to murdering her best friend and landing in prison.

Eden is actually the third actress to play Belle, having replaced Emily Mather when she joined up.

And away from the cameras, life hasn’t always been easy for the soap star, either, as her sister was diagnosed with cancer aged just 14.

Luckily, Eden has plenty of support to get her through the tough times – including that of long-term boyfriend Ed Lewis.

Daily Star has taken a look into her life away from the cameras.

Sweet romance

Eden has been in a relationship with boyfriend Ed since 2016, and regularly treats fans to an insight into their love life on social media.

Earlier this year, the pair could be seen snuggled together while enjoying a glass of wine outside, both bundled into coats to fight off the April chill.

Eden was practically glowing as she beamed at the camera in a duck-egg puffer coat, while Ed slipped his arm around her.

The actress simply captioned the snap with a grey love-heart emoji – and it wasn’t long before her co-stars were rushing to comment on the lovebirds’ latest outing.

Isobel Steele, who plays Liv Flaherty in Emmerdale, posted: “The content I signed up for!”

Meanwhile, Sophia Amber Moore, who used to play Sarah Sugden before she was replaced by Katie Hill in 2017, gave the photo a like.

The pair celebrated their fifth anniversary in January this year, and have enjoyed plenty of holidays away together.

They have jetted off to exotic locations including Portugal, Sri Lanka, New York and Copenhagen.

Cancer heartache

Eden knew what she was getting into appearing in such a large soap family as the Dingles, as she has a whopping four siblings – Sebastian, Pollyanna, Francesca and Posy.

She has spoken previously about her family heartache after her younger sister Francesca was tragically diagnosed with cancer.

The star actually heard about sister Francesca’s acute lymphoblastic leukaemia while on set, and made sure she found time to visit her 14-year-old sister in hospital every week.

It was co-star Isabel Hodgins, who plays Victoria Sugden in the ITV soap, who comforted Eden through the initial shock.

Speaking to The Mirror, Eden said: "I was with Issy Hodgins, who plays Victoria, when I got the call, and she just held me for ages."

Eden even stayed over in hospital to be by her side, being written out of the soap for a month to offer her sister the best support she could.

She told The Mirror last year: "I stayed over a few times a week. Chessie had her bed and I had a little bed next to her.

"Mornings would be a snuggle, cup of tea and re-runs of Come Dine with Me. I tried to keep Chess as cosy as possible.

"We’d always say love you before bed, and that everything would be OK."

Francesca’s own journey hasn’t been a straightforward one – at one point her weight plummeted to less than four stone, meaning she couldn’t even stand up by herself.

She underwent four round of chemotherapy, which meant she lost her hair, and later contracted sepsis.

While under intensive treatment until December 2018, and now takes chemo tablets each day while attending regular hospital appointments.

She’s set to finish her maintenance treatment in September.

Secret film role

Emmerdale isn’t Eden’s only acting role.

As well as being a regular in the soap, she’s also appeared in spin-off video specials like Paddy and Marlon’s Big Night In and The Dingles – For Richer For Poorer.

But, in 2007, Eden was also a key part of a short film called The Cardiac Oak.

The fantasy film focused on a tree doctor who has an encounter with a dying oak tree, which wakens a memory of her childhood.

Taking place in an ageing wood, the film is a "shimmering magic lantern show", which also featured Sheelagh Loftus.

Eden took on the role of the surgeon’s child self, robed in a dark hood with her trademark blonde hair showing.

Co-star friendships

Eden remains super close with her on-screen co-stars.

In June this year, she headed out for a swanky meal with Alexander Lincoln, Lawrence Robb, Isabel Hodgins, Amy Walsh and Jurell Carter, who are all intrinsic parts of the soap.

"Everyone in this picture makes me smile," Eden wrote alongside the adorable snap, while Tracy Metcalfe actress Amy Walsh replied: "The most beautiful evening! I’m stealing this pic!"

Lawrence Robb, who plays soap bad boy Mackenzie Boyd, responded with two love-heart emojis.

Eden is also close friends with Emma Atkins, who plays Charity Dingle in the Dales.

She has shared numerous sweet pics of the two together, including one back in 2019 in which they’re both bathed in golden sunlight, snuggled close to the camera to take the cute snap.

Both are beaming at the camera for the pic, which Eden captioned: "Beautiful morning."

Emmerdale airs weekdays on ITV at 7pm with an extra helping on Thursdays at 8pm

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