Elizabeth Estensen, who plays soap matriarch Diane Sugden, is leaving the ITV soap after 22 years – but she will still be on screen for a number of weeks
Actress Elizabeth Estensen, who plays soap matriarch Diane Sugden, has announced she is retiring from Emmerdale after 22 years.
Estendsen’s character Diane has been at the heart of Emmerdale for more than two decades, having undergone treatment for cancer twice and been trapped at gun point in a siege.
Diane has been married and widowed, and at the helm as landlady of the Woolpack for seventeen years.
Other past storylines have seen her ripped off by her conman lover Charlie, and stabbed in the dark by Chas Dingle.
Throughout all this, Diane has been a supportive mother, sister, stepmother and grandmother to her fictional family.
On her decision to retire from the programme Elisabeth Estensen said: “For the past 22 years I have loved playing Diane Sugden – she’s kind, reliable and fiercely loyal.
“However, I now feel the time has come to say goodbye. Emmerdale will always remain special to me. I’ve been treated with respect and kindness and I’ve had the very best friends and colleagues, both past and present. I’ll miss everyone dearly.”
After such an action packed life in the village, Diane will soon be packing her suitcases and heading off to warmer climes leaving her life in the village behind her.
Although Liz has filmed her final scenes she will be on screen for a number of weeks.
After graduating from Manchester Polytechnic and moving to Liverpool to star on the stage, Elizabeth made her TV debut in 1975 as Carol Boswell in BBC sitcom The Liver Birds.
She then had roles in The Bill, Casualty, Cracker and Last of the Summer Wine.
While she has certainly become a Dales icon, she actually appeared on rival soap Coronation Street first.
Elizabeth appeared on Corrie as Fiona Middleton’s mother Pam between 1996 and 1998.
She then joined Emmerdale the following year.
John Whiston Managing Director of Continuing Drama and Head of ITV in the North: “For 22 years, Liz has shone through the screen and into our living rooms as the natural heart and centre of the Sugden family.
“It’s a role she has made so totally her own, bringing compassion, humour and credibility to her portrayal of Diane.
“Whenever she’s on screen, as a viewer, you just let out a contented sigh and say to yourself ‘The Queen is on her throne and all is well with the world’. And off screen, you don’t get to stay in a soap that long unless you are a truly professional actor and really, really lovely person. Liz is both.”
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