Actress Diane Keen recalls childhood in Kenya and Kilimanjaro charity climb

Diane Keen
Diane Keen stars in the BBC drama ‘Doctors’. Photo: BBC

Kenyan raised British actress Diane Keen has been featured in the Daily Mail’s ‘May Haven’ feature in which she recounts her early childhood in Kenya and a more recent charity climb up Kilimanjaro.

In the article, the 72-year-old star of the BBC drama ‘Doctors’ shares ‘items of significance’ with reporter Francine White in her ‘haven’, which in Diane’s case is the conservatory at her 18th century Hampshire home.

Born in London in 1946, Diane spent grew up in East Africa, principally Tanganyika and later Kenya, where her father was a civil engineer. After attending boarding school, she returned to Britain at the age of 19, where she became a secretary for the Ivy League fan club. This led to her releasing a 45rpm single of “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses” (credited as Dee King) on the Piccadilly label in 1966.

The actress starred in Doctors from 2003 to 2012, playing Mill Health Centre practice manager Julia Parsons. She also played waitress Sandra Gould in Crossroads during 1968 -71, and the receptionist at the Feathers Hotel, Connelton in Emmerdale Farm in 1972. Other appearances included The Cuckoo Waltz, the Morecambe and Wise show, The Professionals, The Sweeney and a series of advertisements for Nescafe over ten years.

Diane Keen
Diane Keen returned to the UK from Kenya aged 19.

Discussing her early life with the reporter, Diane said: “Although I’ve lived here for 35 years I was brought up in Kenya, and I’ve spent years fund-raising for orphanages there and in Tanzania. 

“One orphan was a gifted, self-taught sculptor and when he left the orphanage he made this bust as a thank-you present to me.”

She also explained a china pig on display in the conservatory, was a gift from wildlife film-maker Michaela Denis, who was friend of her parents, when she was about five. 

Michaela called Diane ‘Little Lion’ and helped her learn Swahili, which she became and still is fluent in.

Diane Keen at Kilimanjaro
Diane Keen at the summit of Kilimanjaro.

Diane also shared a photo from a charity climb up Mount Kilimanjaro three years ago for conservation charity Lion Aid Three years ago. This, at the age of 69, fulfilled a lifelong ambition for the actress who completed the almost 6,000-metre ascent with two broken bones in her foot, having fallen awkwardly a fortnight before.

But after training for a year there was no way she was going to miss the climb. 

“Despite the pain, it was the most amazing feeling when I got to the top, and I felt immensely proud,” she said.

To read the full article, please visit the Daily Mail website.

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