EMMERDALE legend Elizabeth Estensen has quit the soap after 22 years- but what was her life like before the Dales?
In September, Elizabeth announced her retirement after playing matriarch Diane Sugden for more than 20 years
The 72-year-old actress joined the cast back in 1999 and is also the longest-running boss of the iconic Woolpack pub.
Her storylines included illicit love affairs, a colon cancer battle, being held hostage at the Woolpack, sleeping with her sister Val’s husband, and being involved in a helicopter crash which killed Val.
In 2007, she won a shared award at the British Soap Awards for Spectacular Scene of the Year, which saw a house collapse that her character was involved in.
However, Elizabeth admitted “the time was right” to leave.
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She said: “For the past 22 years I have loved playing Diane Sugden – she’s kind, reliable and fiercely loyal.
“I will miss it enormously, but I think the time has come now for me to go.”
She added: “I have loved being a landlady. It is great behind the bar, as you may not always have the biggest scenes, but you get to see everyone and feel at the centre of everything. I used to call them my ‘What can I get you?’ days.
“And with all that practice I have learnt over the years how to pull a good pint.”
The Liver Birds and T-Bag
Elizabeth got her first big break in theatre where she was spotted after graduating from Manchester Polytechnic.
She then replaced Polly James in The Liver Birds and played the part of Carol Boswell for four years from 1975 to 1979.
Elizabeth then tried her hand at children’s television and starred in the hit tv show called T-Bag.
She played a witch-like character and the series ran from 1985 until 1992 on CITV.
Emmerdale isn’t the only ITV soap Elizabeth has appeared in as she also acted in rival Coronation Street.
She played the role of Pam who was Fiona Middleton’s mum from 1996 to 1998.
Pam arrived on the cobbles to support the opening of Fiona’s hair salon, and she later comforted her daughter when her wedding was called off.
She later told Fiona to leave the street after discovering Steve McDonald was having an affair.
Her wig and The Queen
Elizabeth said one of her proudest moments was meeting the Queen on the set of Emmerdale back in 2002.
She was also famous for her big blonde hair.
Fans were stunned to learn it was actually and wig and were left open-mouthed when they saw her being interviewed on This Morning with her longer naturally silvery grey hair.
Talking about future plans, Elizabeth said: “I have not yet planned anything myself for when I leave.
“I would like to travel around the world and perhaps brush up my French. I’m not retiring from acting altogether, I simply want to keep working if I can.”