Val’s (Charlie Hardwick) silence over her possible HIV status is to push Pollard (Chris Chittell) into the arms of Diane in next week’s episode. But the pub landlady will quickly come to regret her one-night-stand.
“They have too much to drink and head upstairs,” explains Elizabeth Estensen, who plays Diane. “It’s not a premeditated act. The evening starts with Diane just wanting to be a shoulder for Eric to cry on. But the next day, both of them want to gloss over what they’ve done. Neither of them want to take it any further.”
But the situation changes when Victoria (Isabel Hodgins) urgently tells Diane that Val is leaving town. As she begs Diane to try and stop Val from going, Victoria is forced to tell her the truth about Ian and his HIV diagnosis.
“It comes as a complete shock for Diane,” says the actress. “But it doesn’t take long for her to put two and two together because the night with Pollard is already at the forefront of her mind. There is now a shocking and personal implication for Diane, who has to keep her own fears completely secret at the same time as helping her sister.”
Fearing now for her own health, Diane decides to seek help from a doctor at a clinic in Hotton, but it’s an experience that takes her outside of her comfort zone. “She’s very embarrassed and ends up lying by saying she’s definitely been exposed to HIV. She ends up being prescribed a course of post-exposure prophylaxis.”
Diane is overcome with relief to be given the drugs, but her guilt grows back in the village as she tries to convince Val to tell Pollard about her HIV worries. “It’s a riveting plot because it takes you somewhere you don’t expect,” says Estensen of her character’s current storyline. “Older women who are no longer worried about pregnancy don’t think that this kind of thing is going to enter their world. But it’s essential to practice safe sex no matter how old you are.”