Lancashire Life - - STAR INTERVIEW -

Lan­cashire ac­tor and pre­sen­ter Lisa Riley has gone from fat and happy to slim and ec­static. She tells

ROGER BOR­RELL how she changed her life

Lisa Riley sparkles like a glass of freshly poured cham­pagne – pink cham­pagne, of course. Ex­cept, these days, it would be sparkling wa­ter fol­low­ing her re­mark­able 12 stone weight loss.

The for­mer Emmerdale star and TV pre­sen­ter will soon be don­ning her feather boa and en­cour­ag­ing the UK pub­lic to dig out their pink glad rags for Breast Cancer Now’s flag­ship fundraiser.

Wear it Pink takes place on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 19, and it’s an event that has a spe­cial poignancy for Bury-born Lisa. In 2012 she lost her beloved mum,

Cath, more than a decade af­ter she was di­ag­nosed with breast cancer.

‘I’m so proud to be an am­bas­sador for the char­ity. Of all the re­quests I get to sup­port good causes, this is the one I have to do,’ said 42-year-old Lisa.

‘Women are sur­viv­ing these days and it’s thanks to events like Breast Cancer Aware­ness Month. Lives are be­ing ex­tended be­cause of the greater aware­ness and re­search and women should not be afraid any longer. Ev­ery­one is work­ing hard to beat this ter­ri­ble dis­ease and long may that con­tinue.’

Her mes­sage to Lan­cashire

Life read­ers was: ‘Wear it Pink is a fan­tas­tic event which gets friends, fam­i­lies and col­leagues to­gether in sup­port of life-sav­ing re­search. Please join in – whether it’s at home, school or work.’

It’s clear that Lisa has never quite re­cov­ered from the loss of her mother. ‘I’m look­ing for­ward to don­ning my feather boa and think­ing of my very spe­cial mum. I can never for­get her smile – and she loved pink lip­stick. She was still wear­ing it just a cou­ple of days be­fore she died.’

Fam­ily re­mains hugely im­por­tant to her. ‘I love going back to Lan­cashire, es­pe­cially to see my neph­ews Jakey and Josh. My fam­ily comes from around Burn­ley and Bury and it’s still where most of my best friends live. They also come down to see me in Not­ting Hill,’ she said.

‘I live five min­utes from Por­to­bello Road and that’s a mag­i­cal area, all a bit Bed­knobs and Broom­sticks. I en­joy walk­ing the length of the road early in the day and watch the stall­hold­ers set­ting up.’

Lisa con­fesses she loves to stop and chat and that’s what makes her such a good fit for TV’S Loose Women. Hav­ing the gift of the gab seems to run in the Riley fam­ily.

‘My late grand­dad, Sam, was in a men’s group that met in Tot­ting­ton Li­brary ev­ery Tues­day morn­ing. Never mind Loose Women, this was Loose Grand­dads. There were 16 to 22 chat­ter­ing away.’

Lisa, most re­cently star­ring with Rob­son Green and Sue John­ston in the BBC drama Age Be­fore Beauty, has strong views of her own.

‘I have just come off air to­day from Loose Women where we have been talk­ing all about sis­ter­hood. Women should be sup­port­ing each other and it makes me very sad when I see women, es­pe­cially on­line, slag­ging each other off.

‘I was a vic­tim of this when peo­ple said I had lost weight by hav­ing a gas­tric band fit­ted. That’s ob­vi­ously not true – I achieved it by chang­ing the way I live and I’m sure my mum would be proud of the way I’ve be­come a much health­ier person.

‘I made a tele­vi­sion pro­gramme about my weight loss and that re­sulted in on­line trolling, ac­cus­ing me of all sorts of things, par­tic­u­larly hav­ing a gas­tric band. But the fact is I was work­ing with a top sur­geon and that wouldn’t have hap­pened if

I’d been less than truth­ful about my weight loss. Any­way, I proved them wrong by tak­ing a liede­tec­tor test.

‘I sup­pose there are al­ways peo­ple who want you to fail, but I won’t have lies told about me. That is something that gen­uinely up­sets me. I believe in sis­ter­hood, and I was taught re­straint, po­lite­ness, say­ing thank you and telling the truth. You have to be beau­ti­ful in­side as well as out­side.

‘The cur­rent so­cial me­dia ob­ses­sion con­cerns me. I worry about my neph­ews Jakey and Josh and won­der what af­fect it will have in 20 years time.’

Lisa has writ­ten two self-help books about the diet that saw her dress size drop from 28 to 14. But has achiev­ing her ‘cello’ fig­ure af­fected her ca­reer?

‘While I’m slim­mer I am also hap­pier but I did won­der if the change in my body would af­fect my ca­reer. The fact is that is that it has opened doors for me – it has in­creased the roles I can play. I’m not just the fat, funny one any more. I went for a three part se­ries play­ing a foren­sic sci­en­tist. I would never have stood a chance pre­vi­ously. For me, it has broad­ened my ca­reer.

‘Once you get used to sticking to a diet it can be­come ad­dic­tive. My mes­sage is Eat Less, Move More. It is three years since I had a drop of al­co­hol and I loved a drink. And as for Lur­pak but­ter… peo­ple said you could swim in what I put on my toast!’

‘I did won­der if the change in my body would af­fect my ca­reer. The fact is that is that it has opened doors for me – it has in­creased the roles I can play. I’m not just the fat, funny one any more’

ABOVE: The Bury ac­tor be­came the na­tion’s favourite on Strictly Come Danc­ing

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