Lisa Riley is returning to Emmerdale after a 17 year hiatus

Ringing in 2019 will be even more exciting than most for actress Lisa Riley, as she confirmed that she’ll be rejoining the cast of Emmerdale in the new year after more than 17 years away from the soap.

Lisa, who plays Mandy Dingle in the long-running ITV series, said that she ‘could not be happier’ at the prospect of being back on set after such a long break.

Rex Features

‘It’s something I never thought would happen after 17 years, and I am so interested to see what trouble Mandy is capable of causing,’ she joked.

Confirming the news, producer Kate Brooks agreed: ‘Iconic Mandy Dingle returns to the village carrying a secret that turns lives upside-down.

‘She’s a character bursting with fun who certainly ruffles a few feathers during her short stint back in the village, and she clearly hasn’t lost any of the joie de vivre that made Mandy so popular and enjoyable to watch.

‘We’re delighted to welcome Lisa back to Emmerdale.’

Lisa Riley Emmerdale
Lisa as Mandy on her big day marrying Paddy in the ITV soap. Image: Rex Features

The new career move marks a series of life changes for Lisa, who has lost 12 stone in recent years, taking her from a size 28 to a size 12, and subsequently undergone surgery to remove her excess skin.

‘I cannot even begin to explain how it feels to be me at the moment,’ she said during her cover interview with YOU back in March.

‘I’ve spent a lifetime walking into photo studios – often alongside other actresses – and having to walk past rows of cute little frocks. Then I’d come to my rail, which would have about three big smock dresses hanging there. Now I feel thrilled that I get to have pretty dresses hanging on rails for me.

‘But it’s more than that. I feel I have become the “me” I always wanted to be. I have a life and a career that has completely changed and so much of it is down to me taking control of myself and losing weight.’

Lisa Riley Emmerdale
Lisa with the Dingle family. Image: Rex Features

The star, who also appears regularly on Loose Women, recently hinted that a return to the Yorkshire Dales might be imminent, telling the Express back in July: ‘I always say “never say never”‘.

‘Playing Mandy Dingle, for seven and a half years, don’t get me wrong, it was amazing and now it’s been 20 years ago. It’s great that the public would want me to go back.”

‘Dominic Brunt [who plays Paddy, Mandy’s ex-husband] desperately wants me to go back,’ she admitted. ‘He’s like “Come back, what’s to lose?” and I’m like I don’t know.’