J Arthur Rank was considered a bit of a joke. He made his millions from flour, and as a devout Methodist wanted to make religious films. He bought a studio called Pinewood and later a string of cinemas to solve the problem of distributing his films. During the Second World War people flocked to the cinemas to escape into a world of Hollywood fantasy and Rank found his business going from strength to strength.
The Rank School for young actors was formed in 1946, and was established to recruit young stars.
Diana, just so happened to be in the right place at the right time, she had completed a year and a half at LAMDA, with a gold medal and the Alexander Korda cup to her name. She now had a to start all over again with a handful of other young hopefuls, all being groomed to the ‘Star’ image that Rank had so clearly defined for them
Diana now had a very lucrative film contract and this made all the ‘behavioural lessons’ in charm, etiquette and grace worth while. Diana was now adding to her list of ‘Films I have Appeared in’. She played a delinquent in Good Time Girl with Flora Robson telling her the fact of life. Then It’s Not Cricket, where Diana had a scene applying for an office job and The Calendar, where she played a prim and proper maid serving tea to Greta Gynt. My Sister and I followed quickly with Diana wearing her hair in pigtails delivering a script to Sally Ann Howes.
Diana’s next film was one she hated. They had cut a great deal from the length of her hair, ‘simply’, she felt, because the hairdresser could not be bothered to attend to it! Diana’s first real challenge as an actress came through Sydney Box. In a film Here Come the Huggetts, inspired by a family portrayed earlier in Holiday Camp, Diana played the Huggetts niece, a real modern-miss who for her time was very outspoken. There was also a follow up film, Vote for Huggett.
Diana received a lot of publicity and took her mother along to the press review. Although Mary loved it, the critics did not. Diana never went to another press screening!