Elizabeth Estensen quits Emmerdale
- Bang Showbiz
- 17 September 2021
'Emmerdale' actress Elizabeth Estensen is saying goodbye to the ITV soap after 22 years playing Diane Sugden
'Emmerdale' star Elizabeth Estensen has quit her role as Diane Sugden after 22 years and has decided to retire from acting altogether.
The 72-year-old actress first debuted as the character n 1999 and Diane has been a fixture of the Dales and involved in several high-profile storylines.
In a statement, she 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."
It is not believed that the former Woolpack landlady will not be killed off and that her exit scenes have already been filmed – which will air later in the year – and will see Diane leave the village for a warmer climate.
In her statement, she added: "'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.”
Head of ITV's Continuing Drama, John Whiston, was keen to pay tribute to the soap legend and her "shining" presence in the Yorkshire-based soap opera, even referring to her as the "queen" of 'Emmerdale'.
He said: "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."
Whiston was also quick to pay tribute to Elizabeth on a personal level.
He added: "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.”
Diane Sugden was married to farmer Jack Sugen until his death, battled cancer twice, was held hostage at the Woolpack and was involved in a helicopter crash that ultimately killed her sister Val when they landed into the village hall and the explosion ripped through the neighbouring hall of mirrors.
In 2005, she and Charlie Hardwick – who played Val – were nominated for Best On-Screen Partnership at the British Soap Awards, losing out to John Bardon and June Brown, who played Jim and Dot Branning in rival BBC soap 'EastEnders'.