Blast from the Past

She’s hit the head­lines with her weight loss, but Lisa Ri­ley still can’t es­cape Mandy Din­gle’s big pres­ence…

Inside Soap - - WELCOME! - Kate White

Lovely, bub­bly Lisa Ri­ley has al­ways had a rep­u­ta­tion for light­ing up a room, but these days she’s shin­ing brighter than ever. Af­ter los­ing an in­cred­i­ble 12-and-a-half stone, the star is en­joy­ing a whole new lease of life.

For Lisa, it’s just the next step on an in­cred­i­ble jour­ney in showbiz, which be­gan with her role as Dales favourite Mandy Din­gle. Re­cently she launched her book Hon­esty Diet to share her ap­proach to weight loss – and now the pub­lic feel closer to her than ever…

“Peo­ple mes­sage me to tell me they’ve had a poo!” laughs Lisa. “I ap­plaud them, as your plumb­ing should be work­ing if you are eat­ing and drink­ing prop­erly! If you’re not hon­est about what you are putting in your body, you won’t be able to change. So, when it came to pick­ing a name for my book, there was no other ti­tle that I would dream of us­ing!”

Plenty of soap stars have re­leased fit­ness DVDS and shared their weight­loss sto­ries, but Lisa’s ex­pe­ri­ence seems to have res­onated more than any other. Af­ter see­ing her amaz­ing new look, the na­tion wanted an­swers – and writ­ing her book be­came al­most a pub­lic ser­vice.

“I get such en­joy­ment from see­ing the suc­cess rate on­line – it’s bril­liant,” she grins. “I know how hard it is, and I’m only in this to help peo­ple. I didn’t get pushed into writ­ing this book, it hap­pened be­cause I was smoth­ered with ques­tions af­ter film­ing The Baggy

Body Club doc­u­men­tary, and I felt as if I had to answer all these peo­ple.”

The new Lisa is worlds away from Mandy Din­gle, but she says the pub­lic haven’t for­got­ten the char­ac­ter that launched her ca­reer – and she re­calls how shocked her loved ones were when she handed in her res­ig­na­tion.

“Ev­ery­one thought I was crazy for leav­ing Em­merdale, yet I’ve not been out of work since,” ex­plains Lisa. “I adored my time there, but I wanted to play dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. She’s still talked about wher­ever I go, though. I flew back from Mex­ico last year and the two guys that were sit­ting be­hind me started singing

Mandy by Barry Manilow! Ev­ery­body still talks about her food wagon Mandy’s Munch­box – it’ll go down in his­tory!” Speak­ing of flights, one of Lisa’s fond­est Em­merdale mem­o­ries in­volved air travel and a gag­gle of Din­gle lads. “When we filmed the Din­gles Down Un­der spin-off DVD, I was on a 27-hour flight with all the Din­gle lads, and I was the only girl,” she re­veals. “We took over the whole plane – it was may­hem!” Lisa also en­joyed wild times when she shared a house with Dales co-stars Mark Charnock (Mar­lon), Do­minic Brunt (Paddy) and Nicky Evans (Roy Glover).

“If those walls could talk!” she teases. “It was like a stu­dent house, yet we were all in one of the big­gest soaps in the coun­try. We had this Mor­risons near our house, and we used to nick the trol­leys to bring our shop­ping home!” With a BBC drama se­ries called Age Be­fore Beauty about to air and her book on the best-seller list, Lisa has lots go­ing on. So, would she find time to re­turn to Em­merdale and Mandy again?

“Peo­ple keep telling me, ‘Your Paddy needs you back!’” she chuck­les. “But in my last episodes Mandy and Paddy spent the night to­gether, so there could be a mini-me knock­ing about. I’d be much more in­ter­ested to see what their child is like – and it’d give Paddy a shock!”

To diet for: The star was in ITV drama Fat Friends

Life of Ri­ley: Lisa is a reg­u­lar on the Loose Women panel

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