Lisa Riley on campaigning for Breast Cancer Now's Wear It Pink
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 October 2018
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 lie-detector 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!’
To take part in Wear it Pink this October, visit wearitpink.org for further details, fundraising ideas and how to register for your free fundraising pack.
Born in Bury in 1976, Lisa trained with the Oldham Theatre Workshop which produced actors such as Sarah Lancashire and Suranne Jones.
She was signed by an agent when she was 12 and appeared as an extra in Coronation Street but her big break was being cast as Mandy Dingle in Emmerdale. She was named most popular newcomer in the TV awards.
Lisa took over from Jeremy Beadle as presenter of You’ve Been Framed, and spent four years on the show, raising viewing figures to a peak of 13 million.
In the tenth series of Strictly Come Dancing, she partnered Robin Windsor. They became stars of the series, Lisa Riley stunning the judges by doing the splits. The made it to the semi-final.
Lisa has shielded her partner from the limelight by refusing to name. them The couple attempted to have children by IVF but it was not to be.