Lisa Riley - 7 things you didn't know about the Emmerdale star

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From travelling to far-flung locations to her Strictly Come Dancing journey...

Mandy Dingle has cemented herself as one of Emmerdale's most legendary characters, and she is played to perfection by actress Lisa Riley.

Mandy often brings trouble to the Dingles' door... but she has a heart of gold and would lay down her life for her family.

But while we all love Mandy, what do we know about Lisa Riley, the actress behind the leopard-print loving troublemaker?

Most fans of the actress will know that:

  • She's been a panellist on ITV daytime show, Loose Women
  • She took part in the 19th series of Strictly Come Dancing
  • Lisa presented You've Been Framed between 1998 and 2002

But what else do we know about Lisa? Here are several things you probably don't know...

Lisa Riley: little known facts about the Emmerdale actress...

1. Strictly Come Dancing was a career highlight

Lisa Riley on Strictly Come Dancing

Lisa was paired with professional dancer Robin Windsor (Picture: BBC)

Lisa took part in the 2012 series of Strictly Come Dancing, and wowed judges with her fancy footwork until leaving the show in week 11. The actress was paired with Robin Windsor who she now classes as one of her best friends... "People thought I was going to be awful and then the next thing you know I'm dropping the splits at Wembley," she joked to TV Times.

2. Lisa Riley's great friends with her Emmerdale cast mates

Emmerdale, Marlon Dingle, Chas Dingle, Mandy Dingle

Lisa's great friends with her co-stars at Emmerdale (Picture: ITV)

Despite being away from the show for 17 years, Lisa kept in touch with her friends from the cast... "Steve Halliwell, who plays Zak, Mark Charnock who plays Marlon, and Dominic Brunt who plays Paddy are all old friends," Lisa told TV Times. "But then I have also started working with Lucy Pargeter, who plays Chas. I feel like I've met my sister on and off screen, which is amazing. She's a dream and we have a real life bond."

MORE: Check out the latest Emmerdale spoilers

3. Lisa Riley is an advocate for healthy living 

A photo posted by on

Lisa has shed an amazing 12 stone, going from a size 28 to a size 14 and has even written her own cookbooks. But she says it wasn't a diet that got her fighting fit, it simply by making small changes to her lifestyle. Lisa has been alcohol-free for four years, as well as quitting smoking and greasy food. She told Bella Magazine: "I'm the healthiest I can possibly be. I train a lot, I eat the right things. It's not a diet, I just literally eat less and move more!"

More: Things you didn't know about Emmerdale's Zoe Henry 

4. She found fame very young

Since leaving drama school at just 14 years old, Lisa has been working as a professional actor. But earning a good living so early on came with its down side... "When I joined Emmerdale the wage was a lot of money for a teenager," she told TV Times. "Me and Adele Silva (who played Emmerdale's Kelly Windsor) used to go out in our lunch break and buy two designer handbags. In the end Steve Halliwell (Zak Dingle) cut up my credit card and it was the best thing he could have done."

5. She's got the travelling bug

A photo posted by on

When she's not busy filming at Emmerdale, Lisa likes nothing more than jetting off to far-flung places... and she's even admitted the more obscure location the better! The actress told TV Times: "I have been to 92 countries now and some have been really weird places. I did the generic trips to places like Tenerife when I was younger, but I've always wanted to see the world and now I can! I go with my other half, he is my travelling buddy."

6. She lives by a great motto

As well as discovering the world, Lisa also likes to learn new things... "I always say that if I haven't learnt three new things by the time I go to bed then it has been a rubbish day," she told TV Times. "It doesn't matter what the three things are, but I have to have discovered something new."

More: Things you didn't know about Emmerdale's Jeff Hordley  

7. She's not afraid of looking the part

Not all of the roles Lisa has played over the years have been as glamorous as Mandy Dingle... "I looked so different in shows like Three Girls and Waterloo Road that people didn't even realise it was me," Lisa told TV Times. "While I was working on Scott and Bailey my grandad, God rest his soul, once said to me 'Crikey Lisa, you looked rough' and that's the best compliment he could have given me. There is no room for vanity in this job."

Lisa Riley's Fact File 

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the actress....

How old is she?

Lisa Riley's age is 43. Her date of birth is 13 July 1976.

Is she in a relationship?

Lisa Riley has been with fiancé Al since 2014 and they got engaged  in 2018.

Does she have kids?

Lisa Riley doesn't have any children

Where was she born?

Lisa Riley was born in Bury, Manchester.

How tall is she?

Lisa Riley's height is 1.64 metres tall.

Twitter: @Reallisariley

Instagram: @lisajaneriley

Emmerdale airs weeknights at 7pm on ITV, with an extra episode at 8pm on Thursdays.

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Main pic: Dave Benett/Getty Images

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.