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Lisa Riley reveals what made her return to Emmerdale – and it involves Strictly Come Dancing!

The actress has reprised her role as Mandy Dingle

Hanna Fillingham

Lisa Riley delighted her fans after announcing that she would be returning to Emmerdale to reprise her role as Mandy Dingle in the New Year, and she didn't disappoint in her first scene at the end of Friday's episode. And although the Loose Women panellist has been asked to go back many time during her 17 year absence from the soap, there was one incident that made her decide that the time was right. Talking to HELLO! and other publications at a Christmas press conference, Lisa recalled the moment she made the decision to return. She said: "I'm the type of person that must have an answer, I can't leave anything open ended, and I was working for Strictly in June doing a Q and A and there were 4,000 people asking me when I was going back to Emmerdale. But I've had that since the day I left. It was really weird for some reason these people asked 'why won't you go back to Emmerdale?' and I had no answer so I thought, 'well why not?'"

Lisa Riley has spoken about her return to Emmerdale

The soap star realised that going back to Emmerdale wouldn't impact her career in any way. She said: "I've done so much, which is great, and 17 years is such a long time and I'm interested to see where [Mandy] has been. When you see the reaction I've had this week alone [after announcing the return], it's been fantastic and I think 'thank God I made the right decision.'" Lisa also explained that her first meeting with the Emmerdale bosses was for a longer period of time, but because of her commitments the original storyline that was thought of for her has been changed. "It won't be what people expect which is even better. So it leaves things very much open," she explained. "I had a secret meeting, had to get in a cab with a different name and the driver was like 'oh aye it's Lisa Riley.' As if I can't come to Leeds on a train from London!"

MORE: Strictly's Neil Jones reevals he's lost friends over the year

Lisa said it was at a Strictly event where she decided the time was right to return to Emmerdale

READ: Strictly's Dianne Buswell and Joe Sugg lean in for kiss after being reunited

Lisa has stayed in touch with many of her co-stars during her time away from the show, including Dominic Brunt, who plays her former husband Paddy Kirk, and Mark Chadwick, who plays Marlon Dingle. Reuniting with them back in the studios has been fun, and Lisa has also enjoyed getting to know members of the cast who were not working on the soap during her time on it, including Lucy Pargeter. "Working with Luce was just amazing. We never worked together and I love her work on screen and the first day I came back, I wanted to tell her how brilliant she's been," Lisa said. "Online, everyone's saying Mandy and Chas are going to hate each other. We shall see – sometimes there is girl power and girls sticking together for the right reasons which I think is a brilliant thing moving forward."

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