Elizabeth Estensen to retire from playing Diane Sugden on Emmerdale

Elizabeth Estensen is retiring from her role as Diane Sugden on Emmerdale after 22 years on the soap.

She has filmed her final scenes for the ITV show but will remain on screen for a number of weeks.

Diane is the matriarch of the Sugden family.

National Television Awards 2018 – Arrivals – London
Elizabeth Estensen (Matt Crossick/PA)

Over the years she has been married and widowed, undergone cancer treatment, been landlady of the Woolpoack for 17 years, been scammed by her conman lover Charlie and stabbed by Chas Dingle.

Estensen, 72, 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.”

British Soap Awards 2017 – Manchester
Elizabeth Estensen (Matt Crossick/PA)

John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama and head of ITV in the north, 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’.

“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.”