Diane Sugden

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Diane Sugden
Diane Sugden2.jpg
Emmerdale character
Portrayed by Elizabeth Estensen
First appearanceEpisode 2611
23 November 1999 (1999-11-23)
Introduced byKieran Roberts
Classification Present; regular
Other namesDiane Blackstock
  • Barmaid
  • Pub landlady
  • Businesswoman
HomeBrook Cottage

Diane Sugden (also Blackstock) is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale , played by Elizabeth Estensen. Since her first appearance in 1999, she has been involved in several high-profile storylines, including her marriage to Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby) and his subsequent death, a battle with colon cancer, the revelation that her ex-husband Rodney Blackstock (Patrick Mower) fathered her sister Val Lambert's (Charlie Hardwick) son, being held hostage in a siege at the Woolpack, sleeping with Val's husband Eric Pollard (Chris Chittell), being involved in a helicopter crash which kills Val, being stabbed by Chas Dingle (Lucy Pargeter), and a feud with Chrissie White (Louise Marwood).



Diane raised her daughter Bernice Blackstock alone after her husband Rodney Blackstock left her. Diane struggled to raise Bernice alone, and by her own admission was a far from perfect mother. However, Diane cares deeply for her daughter, and is a key source of support when Bernice's engagement to Gavin Ferris (Robert Beck) collapses. After initially only coming to Emmerdale to attend Bernice's wedding, Diane decides to stay and take Gavin's place as Bernice's business partner, with the two buying The Woolpack together.

Diane offers comfort to Jack Sugden who has been through difficult times, following his discovery that his former wife, Sarah Sugden (Alyson Spiro), has cheated on him. They kiss but decide to be friends. They remain close for a number of years. Rodney reappears in Diane and Bernice's lives after abandoning them. Bernice forgives Rodney but Diane is more hesitant. There is still a spark between Diane and Rodney and the two spend a night together but Diane calls things off. After failed relationships with builder Jerry "Mack" MacKinley (Rob Dixon) and Alan Turner, Diane and Jack reunite and started considering life together. When Diane decides to join Bernice in Brighton, Jack proposes in an attempt to get her to stay.

Diane is horrified to discover she has colon cancer. She goes to a funeral in Scarborough with Rodney, trying to come to terms with the news. Rodney does not know about her illness and Val assumes they are having an affair. Upon finding out Diane is ill, Rodney ends things with Val, begging Diane to give their relationship another chance. However, she rejects him and soon begins planning her wedding to Jack. They marry on 21 September 2004, when Jack's daughter Victoria Sugden tells the congregation about Diane's illness. [1] After the ceremony, Diane's younger sister Val Lambert (Charlie Hardwick) tells Rodney that he fathered her son, Paul Lambert (Mathew Bose). Horrified by Val's selfishness, Diane disowns her. She is given the all-clear from cancer early in the New Year.

Diane struggles to cope with Jack's children, at the detriment to her health. She becomes a victim of the Kings River Showhome explosion, but makes a full recovery (albeit with a "Live for the Moment" outlook on life). Diane falls for Billy Hopwood (David Crellin) and they begin an emotional affair. She and Jack try to work through their problems but end up separating. However they grew closer following Andy's conviction for manslaughter and whilst Jack was in Spain, Diane received a text mentioning patching things up on his return. While Jack is away, Diane takes over looking after the family and rebuilds bridges. She is appalled when Andy is discovered to be beating his wife, Jo but helps him when he suffers a breakdown. Diane is devastated when Jack dies in February 2009. She is comforted by a letter he had written before his death, letting her know how much he loved her.

Diane tries to move on with her life, but struggles. Val, after receiving an offer for the pub from Maisie Wylde (Alice Coulthard), tries to convince Diane she is too depressed to stay on as owner and should sell up. When Diane learns of Val's scheme, she shocks her by pretending she plans to sell to Rodney and Nicola. She then chased Val out of the pub with a water squirter. Sandy Thomas (Freddie Jones), who constantly argues with his son Ashley Thomas (John Middleton), asks if he can move into The Woolpack and Diane agrees. Douglas Potts (Duncan Preston) helps Sandy move in, and after a few drinks, Diane impulsively kisses him. She realises she needs to sort herself out, and leaves to visit Bernice, Louise Appleton (Emily Symons) and Paul, respectively. On her return she discovers Daz has left, and Andy has given custody of his daughter Sarah to Debbie Dingle (Charley Webb) and is on the verge of a breakdown. Following another fall out with her Val, Diane realises that they can no longer work together and she uses the inheritance left to her by Jack to buy Val out, making her the sole owner of The Woolpack Inn.

Charlie Haynes (George Costigan), an old friend of Rodney's, wins Diane's heart. Their relationship gets off to a good start, and Charlie whisks Diane away on romantic holidays, and away to France, even taking Victoria along so she can brush up on her French. On this trip Diane opens up to Charlie and tells him about her cancer. However, their happiness comes to a halt as Charlie reveals to Diane he was suffering from an inoperable brain tumour, meaning he will die and does not have long left. Making the most of their time left, Charlie and Diane decide to move to France, with Diane deciding to sell The Woolpack. On the night of her leaving party, Charlie leaves to inform his daughter of his illness. The next day, a worried Rodney phones the hospital, only to find there are no records of Charlie or his doctor ever being at the hospital, and Rodney and Doug find Charlie's shop had never been used. Diane and Val go to France, only to find the Charlie's chateau is in fact, someone else's and the owner has never heard of Charlie. Diane then realises she has been conned and is left devastated. Val then comforts Diane as she bursts into tears.

Doug offers Diane his life savings, which she tearfully accepts, much to the annoyance of Doug's daughter, Laurel, who then goes on to warn Diane it is only a loan, and she must pay Doug back as soon as she can. Diane hopes that she may now have a future for Doug, but he reconciles with estranged wife, Hilary (Paula Wilcox), and leaves in early 2011 to travel the world with her, leaving Diane once again heartbroken. The following year, Diane tries to sell the pub, wanting a fresh start and finding it an increasing struggle running the place on her own, but unable to find a buyer for the whole business, she settles for Chas Dingle (Lucy Pargeter) buying a stake in the Woolpack and becoming her new business partner. Diane and Chas' friendship and partnership becomes strained in 2012 after the revelation of Chas' affair with Cameron Murray (Dominic Power). Diane is touched when Andy and Debbie name their newborn son after Jack. Bernice returns before Christmas after her marriage falls apart and Diane departs shortly after Bernice returns and travels to Brighton to look after her daughter, Dee-Dee. Diane returns in early June, to say she wants to go live with Dee-Dee in Brisbane, and wants to sell her share on The Woolpack. In October 2013, Diane, along with many other villagers including Bernice and Nicola, is held hostage in The Woolpack by Cameron, who has escaped from prison. He orders for Diane to look out of the window, but she shouts to help, so he pulls her away, causing her to fall over and hit her head on a table. She sustains a cut to the head, and is later released by Cameron.

Diane has sex with Eric Pollard (Chris Chittell), Val's husband. Victoria reveals that Val is HIV positive. Diane goes to a clinic that day, lying that she has been exposed to HIV post exposure treatment to combat the virus. Diane later reveals the truth and Val humiliates the pair by revealing their one-night stand. In August 2015, Diane is furious when she hears that Val is planning to fake her own death to escape a prison sentence, and refuses to talk to her. In an attempt to make the pair reconcile, Eric, Rodney and Doug lock Val and Diane in a hall of mirrors so that they have no choice but talk to one another. However, after arguing continually, they are spooked when they lose light in the hall of mirrors, after a helicopter crash caused by Chrissie White (Louise Marwood). Soon after, an explosion rips through the village as a result of the helicopter crash, reaching the hall of mirrors and trapping Val and Diane. They repair their relationship before firefighters arrive, where Val insists that Diane is rescued first. Val dies when a large shard of glass falls and impales her. Diane's overwhelming grief is met with further devastation when Eric bans her from her sister's funeral.

After Robert is shot in the village, Chas and Diane fall out as Diane believes that Chas' son Aaron Livesy (Danny Miller), is the culprit. Their feud results in Diane briefly moving in with Doug. Chas begins sleepwalking and trashes the pub at night due to the stress of watching Robert being shot. Chas believes Emma Barton (Gillian Kearney) is responsible. One night when Diane returns from a meal with her family, she accidentally knocks over a glass, which causes Chas to think that Emma has broken in. Chas grabs a knife and stabs Diane, leaving her bleeding on the floor while she calls Aaron and Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley). Diane is rushed to hospital and Chas hands herself in to the police for stabbing Diane. However, after being treated for the stab wounds, Diane is informed by a doctor that they have discovered abnormalities in her stomach, and later reveal that Diane has stomach cancer.

This causes Diane to re-evaluate her life and she sells her share of the pub. Diane and Doug buy a share of The Grange B&B, becoming partners with Eric. Diane meets and bonds with Aaron's father Gordon Livesy (Gary Mavers) during her chemotherapy sessions. Diane supports Gordon when he re-enters Chas and Aaron's life, but it soon emerges that Gordon sexually abused Aaron when he was young. Diane apologises to Chas for letting Gordon back into her and Aaron's lives. A couple weeks later, Diane is called away to look after Annie in Spain after she falls ill, and she leaves Doug to handle the B&B. The following month, it is revealed that Diane sold her share of the pub to Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins), but is unaware that Charity does not have the money to officially buy the share, and that she still owes her and Doug the money. After returning from Spain, Diane and Doug decide to rent Brook Cottage, as The Woolpack is full. Bernice joins them after the break down of her marriage to Lawrence White (John Bowe).

Diane learns that Chrissie fitted Andy up for the attempted murder of her father Lawrence, knowing it was her son Lachlan White (Thomas Atkinson) who shot Lawrence. Furthermore, she is shocked to discover that Robert, Bernice, Victoria and Aaron all knew what the Whites had done, and that Robert had joined forces with Lawrence's other daughter, Rebecca White (Emily Head) to seek revenge on Chrissie. Diane throws a brick through the Home Farm window, resulting in Chrissie phoning the police and Diane being cautioned. However, before the police are called, Chrissie serves Diane, Doug and Bernice an eviction notice for Brook Cottage but after the police caution, Lawrence revokes the eviction notice. However, Diane decides to confront Lachlan, and when he insults Andy, Diane slaps him. The following day, Diane confronts Chrissie at Home Farm, and when she continues to refuse to listen to her, Diane threatens Chrissie with Lawrence's shotgun, which Lachlan films on his mobile phone to show the police. However, Chrissie informs Diane that she believes that Lachlan is dangerous and wanted to kill the family on purpose, upsetting Lachlan and ending her feud with Diane.


The character was introduced in November 1999 as the mother of established regular Bernice Blackstock (Samantha Giles). [2] Actress Elizabeth Estensen described Diane as "a tart with a heart", and stated "Diane likes a good time, is kind-hearted and easy to get on with." [2] Diane immediately flirts with Alan Turner (Richard Thorp) and Eric Pollard (Chris Chittell), leading Estensen to point out that "there's no doubt that she likes male company." [2] Estensen was not a fan of her character's style, which initially consisted of high heels and tight clothing. Estensen also had to wear a blonde wig for the role. She called Diane "more flamboyant than Bernice". [2]

Producers established a friendship between Diane and Jack Sugden (Clive Hornby) amidst his marriage breakdown and custody battle. [3] Estensen said Diane initially visits Jack to offer moral support. She continued "They've been talking, she's enjoying his company, and then one evening, one thing leads to another and they spend the night together." [3] Diane is disappointed to learn that Jack only thinks of their night together as a comfort during his marital problems. Estensen told an Inside Soap writer that Diane is attracted to Jack, but he wants to make sure that no one finds out what happened between them. As Diane "honourably" promises to keep their night to herself, Estensen said that it actually brings the pair closer together as friends. She also said that she was initially concerned when she learned of the storyline, as she thought that viewers would be put off by people of Jack and Diane's age kissing and having sex. But she found that the plot was "absolutely fine in the end" and Hornby was "terribly nice" during filming. [3] The plot starts a three year on/off romance between the characters, which culminates in their marriage in September 2004. [4]

Estensen thought Jack and Diane made "a good team because they're such an unlikely couple, and with that, they kind of complement one another." [4] She told Andy Baker of Inside Soap that Diane does not fit the stereotype of a farmer's wife, but Jack is "her rock" and is always there for her, unlike her former husband Rodney Blackstock (Patrick Mower). [4] In the lead up to the wedding, Diane is secretly battling bowl cancer and Rodney confesses his love for her, leading to an argument with her sister Val Lambert (Charlie Hardwick). Discussing their dynamic, Estensen said "The history of the Diane/Val relationship is that Val has always been a thorn in the flesh of Diane – however, she does love her as she's her sister." [4] The argument leads Val to admit that Rodney fathered her son Paul Lambert (Mathew Bose), meaning they had an affair while Diane and Rodney were married. Estensen called it "a massive shock" and told Baker that a lot of implications rush into her head. She branded the Blackstock family "completely incestuous", as Bernice is Paul's cousin and sister, and Rodney's daughter Nicola Blackstock (Nicola Wheeler) now has a half-brother. [4]

Shortly before the ceremony, Diane has a talk with her future step-daughter Victoria Sugden (Hannah Midgley) about Paul and her cancer diagnosis, which brings them closer together. Diane then marries Jack in front of their family and friends. During the ceremony, Victoria reveals Diane's cancer diagnosis to the congregation, and Estensen said Diane is "shocked and thrilled, it doesn't seem a problem. It's just very emotional." [4] The wedding episode was filmed during a spell of bad weather, so most of the outdoor scenes were cancelled and the cast had to shoot additional interior scenes. [4] Estensen hoped that Jack and Diane would stay faithful, as Diane had been messed around by men all her life. She stated that Diane had finally found someone who she really cares about and she did not want to think that either of them would have an affair within weeks of the wedding. She added "It took so long to get here that it would be wrong to throw it away." [4]

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Jack Sugden Fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale

John Jacob "Jack" Sugden is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale. The character was originally played by Andrew Burt from 1972 to 1973 with a brief return in 1976, when the actor left for Italy to write a book. On his return in 1980 he was played by Clive Hornby. Hornby remained in the role until 2008 when he was forced to take a break from Emmerdale due to illness. His last on-screen appearance was on 21 February 2008, and his absence was explained by the character visiting his mother, Annie Sugden in Spain. Although Hornby was intended to return, he died from his illness in July 2008 without returning to the programme. Jack was written out following Hornby's death, dying off-screen of a heart attack in February 2009.

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Robert Sugden Fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale

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Val Pollard

Valerie "Val" Pollard is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Charlie Hardwick. She made her first screen appearance in the episodes broadcast on 1 February 2004. Val was introduced as the sister of established character Diane Sugden. She later married Eric Pollard. Hardwick took a three-month break from Emmerdale to appear in a play, and the character left on 10 February 2012. Val returned in June 2012 and was surprised to learn that Eric was in a relationship with Brenda Walker. She moved into Diane's pub, after her marriage breakdown, and helped run it while Diane was away visiting her daughter. In 2014, Val was told that she was HIV positive, after a holiday fling while she was in Portugal. In 2015, it was announced that Hardwick had quit the soap. Val was killed off on 6 August 2015 in the highly publicised "Summer Fate" storyline, which saw a helicopter crash into the village. She made several appearances afterwards as a ghost to Eric and on a videotape describing her final wishes. Her final on-screen appearance aired on 31 August 2015. She more recently appeared as a ghost again in Robert Sugden's dream on the episode broadcast on 25 December 2017.

Louise Appleton

Louise Appleton is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Emily Symons. She made her first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 20 June 2001. Louise arrived in the village as a temporary barmaid and ended up as co-landlady with best friend Diane Sugden, before selling to Diane's sister Val Lambert in 2006. The character last appeared in Emmerdale on 28 October 2008.

Rodney Blackstock Fictional character from Emmerdale

Rodney Blackstock is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Patrick Mower, and introduced into the show in 2000.

Chas Dingle Fictional character from Emmerdale

Chastity "Chas" Dingle is a fictional character from the British soap opera Emmerdale, played by Lucy Pargeter. She made her first appearance during the episode broadcast on 16 October 2002. Chas returned on 21 September 2003. Chas was absent for six months in 2005 when Pargeter took maternity leave. She left temporarily on 5 June 2005, and returned full-time from 13 December 2005. In 2013, Pargeter announced that she would be taking a short break from the show in order to appear in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!. Pargeter was briefly recast for one episode on 20 December 2016 to provide an alternative physical appearance to the character through the eyes of dementia patient Ashley Thomas. Chas departed temporarily once again on 31 March 2017 when Pargeter took a second maternity leave. Pargeter confirmed her return to filming on 31 August 2017. Chas returned on 25 October 2017.

Paul Lambert (<i>Emmerdale</i>)

Paul Lambert is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Mathew Bose. Paul appeared between 2004 and 2009. He arrives as the son of existing characters Val Lambert and Rodney Blackstock and in 2008 Paul, who is openly gay, enters into a civil partnership with Jonny Foster, the first of any primetime soap opera. In 2015, Bose made brief returns to the show, on two occasions, one being in March and the other being in September.

Bernice Blackstock Fictional character from Emmerdale

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The Woolpack

The Woolpack is a fictional public house on the popular ITV soap opera Emmerdale. Its sign is a wool bale, a popular symbol in sheep-rearing country. It has played host to many of the soap's storylines and is the focus of the programme.

Storylines of Emmerdale, the British ITV soap opera, have spanned more than five decades, from the programme's inception in October 1972 until the present day. Emmerdale has covered a number of storylines that created dispute and debate in the media and caused public outcry from viewers. A viewer poll conducted in January 2021 found that the top three storylines/episodes voted by viewers were the Emmerdale plane crash of 1993, the Storm of 2003 that occurred on around the 10th anniversary of the plane crash, and the Hotten Bypass Crash in 2016. Some storylines are seen as having caused controversy amongst viewers and in the media due to the sudden sacking of an actor by the programme's producer, or as a result of a topic or theme that openly shocked viewers or was seen as taboo.

Douglas Potts Fictional character from Emmerdale

Douglas "Doug" Potts is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Duncan Preston. In July 2010, Preston announced that he was taking a break from the show, initially temporarily for several months to allow him to do some theatre work. However, it was later announced by Executive Producer, Steve November, that a return for the character of Doug wasn't definite. November stated that the door would remain open for Preston to come back to the show but that it was in the actor's hands if and when he decides to discuss a return. On 30 July 2014, it was announced that Preston has reprised the role and Doug is returning to the show as a regular character from September. During a December 2016 episode of the show, Doug was recast temporarily to provide an alternative physical appearance from the viewpoint of dementia patient Ashley Thomas.

Chrissie White is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera Emmerdale, played by Louise Marwood. She made her first screen appearance on 23 October 2014. The character and casting was announced on 4 October 2014. The character was the fiancé of established character Robert Sugden, who announced the character to return to the series after five years. Her storylines have included: her turbulent relationship and later marriage to Robert; being caught up in a raid at Home Farm organised by Robert; defending her teenage son Lachlan when it is revealed that he sexually assaulted Alicia Metcalfe ; discovering that Robert has been having an affair with Aaron Livesy ; accidentally causing a helicopter crash which killed multiple residents; discovering that Lawrence is not her biological father; embarking on a relationship with Robert's adoptive brother Andy, which ended with Chrissie fitting up and destroying Andy for Lawrence's attempted murder when Lachlan shoots him after discovering that Andy had cheated on her; and her intense feud with her younger sister Rebecca. Chrissie was killed-off, alongside Lawrence, in a previously unannounced departure on 11 January 2018, after being involved in a car accident involving the entire White family caused by Lachlan.

The Sugdens, are a fictional family in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale. Introduced during the show's conception in 1972, they were the main family for storylines between the 1970s and 1980s and remained as such for many years. The families original unit consisted of widowed farmer Annie Sugden, alongside her children Peggy Skilbeck, Jack Sugden and Joe Sugden. Subsequently these characters went on to produce more generations of Sugdens.


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  3. 1 2 3 "A friend in need". Inside Soap . No. 158. 22 July – 4 August 2000. p. 14.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Baker, Andy (18–24 September 2004). "Till death us do part...". Inside Soap . No. 38. pp. 24–25.