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…
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