Goodbye Julia! Diane Keen leaves Doctors

(Image credit: BBC)

After a decade as surgery practice manager, Julia Parsons, Doctors star Diane Keen tells us about her decision to leave the daytime BBC1 drama... Are you a lady of leisure now that you've le ft Doctors? "Oh, it’s lovely! It’s nice to have a bit of time to see my friends and family. It’s fantastic just being at home and being able to get on with stuff. I’m enjoying having a life again. I slept for about three weeks when I finished filming!" When did you decide it was time to leave Doctors? "Last year I reached the decision to leave. I’d been thinking it through. I felt that I had taken the character of Julia Parsons as far as I could. We’ve known each other pretty well for 10 years. But you become an actor to play lots of different roles, so it’s time for me to get back on the bus again." What would be your dream roles? "Anything and everything! I’d love to get back into comedy which is my spiritual home. It’s where I really made my name in sitcoms and comedy shows, like The Cuckoo Waltz and Rings On Their Fingers in the 70s. So it would be great to do that again. I’d love to do Downton Abbey, Doc Martin, Wild At Heart, Silent Witness. There are so many great shows out there. I’m also busy writing a comedy-drama of my own." Tell us about Julia's exit storyline? "There’s a huge car accident, involving Julia and Martin. Its about the biggest stunt we’ve done on Doctors. It’s really quite horrendous and it’s the ultimate cliffhanger. So it was great to be involved in that. But there’s also her romance with Martin. Julia has been fighting him off because she doesn’t want to get hurt again. But Martin has a secret weapon – he makes her laugh. Anyone who can make Julia laugh is quids in. She has a great sense of fun. She was a wild child when she was much younger, so there’s still some of that in her personality." What was it like filming the big car crash? "It was filmed on one of the worst stormy days. So that made things a bit difficult. But it also made it look better, so much more dramatic. So it’s not looking good for Julia and Martin..." What have been your favourite storylines over the years? "That’s a tricky one. There have been so many! It was very exciting when the Riverside Doctors' Surgery blew up. And then Julia got chucked into prison and accused of blowing it up! The storyline where Julia had Lyme Disease was also great. I got to play lots of different aspects of the disease, which is quite terrifying in what can happen to you. It was good to be able to deal with some of the facts about the disease, and help make viewers more aware. I've also enjoyed the storylines involving Julia's family." What was your last day of filming like? "Very emotional. There was a lot of work to be done so we all got on and did it. But we all felt it was going to be a difficult day. But the crew came in with champagne and flowers at the end of the day's filming. And I had a wonderful party the night before! It was so lovely. I felt so humbled by the affection and the love that was in the room. I’ve spent most of my life with some of these people for the past 10 years, more than my own friends and family." Have you taken any souvenirs from the set? "I've got Julia's name badge that she wore on her jacket. And they've promised me they'll send me the 'Julia Parsons, Practice Manager' name plate that hung on her office door!" Will you continue to watch the series? "Oh, definitely. Yes, I like to record the episodes and then watch them in the evening or at the weekends. I shall be watching to see who the new practice manager is!" Don't miss Diane's final episode of Doctors on Friday, May 18, BBC1, 1.45pm

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.