Mandy Dingle is back! Lisa Riley tells The Emmerdaily all……
It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for since it was first announced – the return of Mandy Dingle to Emmerdale. Actress Lisa Riley chats to the media about coming back to the village.
When Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) and Jessie Grant (Sandra Marvin)stand at the church alter waiting to make their Christmas surprise marriage legal, the last thing any Dingle is expecting to see is Mandy Dingle (Lisa Riley)! As the ceremony gets underway they are rudely interrupted as Mandy Dingle bursts through the door, much to the shock and awe of Marlon and Paddy Kirk (Dominic Brunt).
An awkward Paddy is uncomfortable as Mandy takes her place as the second witness and all hell breaks loose as an emotional Chas Dingle (Lucy Pargeter) finally snaps and attacks Mandy. The ladies later make up but when Mandy hears of Paddy’s recent heartache over baby Grace, will Mandy be able to bring herself to tell Paddy the real reason she’s returned? And just what will the family make of Mandy’s 16 year old son?
After 17 years away, actress Lisa Riley tells us about her decision to return to Emmerdale (but doesn’t confirm how long she’s staying), what Mandy’s been up to and what its been like to be back in the Dingle fold…
Does it feel like you’ve never been away?
“It’s really weird. The whole process and the week to week roster is really different. However they’ve been really kind and eased me in slowly. I haven’t got a feel of what it’s like when you’re in the middle of a storyline, I’ve come for this one topic, so it’s been brill.
“I haven’t got a fully fledged pass yet, I”m still on a guest pass. There’s crew I’ve worked with on Waterloo Road, Scott and Bailey, who are all here from my Granada days as well so that side of it’s great. Then I go I’m 42, it’s 17 years and for me, so much has happened in my life in 17 years, it’s interesting to wonder what’s happened in Mandy’s life. She has been away that long.”
Why now and this storyline?
“It wasn’t this storyline at all. I’m the type of person that must have an answer, I can’t leave anything open ended. I was working for Strictly Come Dancing in June doing a Q&A and there were 4,000 people asking ‘when are you 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!
How did the return to Emmerdale come about?
“The first initial offer was for a long period but because of work and my commitments, there was an original storyline which has been flipped. It won’t be what people expect which is even better. So it leaves things very much open for the New Year shall we say.
“I had time to have a think about whether it was the right thing but I didn’t take me a long time once they told me the story. As an actor I want to move forward. It was seven wonderful years of my life and time I’ll cherish. Mandy kind of put me on the map really so I’m genuinely interested to see what’s happened to her and now I’ve had a glimpse…”
Does this open the door for her return for longer?
“Yes! I’m not dead! I’m very much alive.”
What’s happened for Mandy over the past 17 years?
“She’s still in Southampton, and something has happened to her – she has a child, Vinnie! They are very similar which is really nice and gives a lot of scope. She’s been very happy and has a bit of money now, not as down trodden as she was. There’s still a glimmer of her and we had a ball. It was fantastic because leopard print is now so on trend, it’s everywhere so we didn’t struggle getting any of her costume this time. She a little bit more glamorous than the mismatch she was before.
Was it easy slipping back into character?
“Completely, I saw Mark Charnock (Marlon Dingle) on the first day and as soon as I saw Dominic Brunt (Paddy Kirk) it was just heaven. The very first scene I had was in the Dingle house, it took me back 21 years to a scene I had in the old house which was the in-side of a house not a set. One day, in the dinner hour, I painted the phone pink and there are still remnants on the phone and I thought ‘yes’ my stamp is still here, but stairs are a different way round. I thought there was something weird going on… My first scene was also with James Hooten (Sam Dingle) who’s like my brother. We were just reminiscing about stories from years back which is so special.”
Mandy returns with son Vinnie, played by Brad Johnson who was in Kay Mellor’s Syndicate and also completed in BBC’s Let it Shine, who Lisa says is ‘brill’ and that the ‘avenues of where the stories can be taken are huge.’
How does Mandy arrive?
“I’m a silhouette. You probably won’t know it’s me until I open my mouth. Mandy comes with Belle. The last time Mandy saw her she was born in the stable on Christmas morning and then I left so there’s nice stuff with me and Eden. Then the penny drops who it is…”
Has Mandy been in touch with the Dingles?
“When the cast go on their ‘normal’ holidays and they come back very brown, they’ve been to Southampton to see Mandy! In Costa del Southampton where there’s lot of sunbed shops!
How does Mandy react when she hears what Paddy’s been through?
“That’s beautiful stuff. Working with Lucy Pargeter was just amazing. We never worked together before, I love her work on screen and the first day I came back, I wanted to tell her how brilliant she’s been. Online everyone’s saying Mandy and Chas are going to hate each other, but 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.
“They’re very similar in that they are confident females but they live with bravado and confidence when inside they’re hurting and that’s what they always wrote for me when i was here as Mandy. I honestly think Mandy and Chas are sisters and it would be wonderful to explore that because they are so similar yet they’ve been through so much turmoil themselves.”
If you could bring any character back from the past, who would you choose?
“Nellie Dingle, 100%. Nellie has to come back, and I don’t know how they do it, but I just think for one episode, Nellie Dingle. We just have to see her in her craziness, her brilliance of being so crazy. I’m interested as a viewer. I want to know where is she? She’d be my ultimate choice.”
Have you kept on top of all the storylines while you’ve been gone?
“Yeah, but whereever I go… If I’m in Asda, people go, ‘Hey, you seen what’s happened with Paddy and Chas?’ Everywhere I go! That’s the power of the programme. I might not visually watch it myself, but I’m always told, and you can go online and see what’s going on. It got the Bafta, and the dementia storyline with John Middleton I thought was just… and you’ve got to compare it to the soaps, it was brilliant. They didn’t speed it up, they did it to time. My auntie had chronic Alzheimers so it was perfect. That’s the growth of the programme. It’s just growing and growing, the writing is brilliant. As an actor, you get it and you go, ‘Oh I’ve learnt that really really quickly!’ Why? Because the writing is fab. It’s amazing. And also writers that I’ve not worked with and it’s still like that.
Does Mandy still have feelings for Paddy?
“I don’t want to give that away, as I think that would ruin it for everybody. That’s going to be a nice surprise. Even my dad… my dad’s like, ‘What’s happening with you and Paddy?’ I’m like, I’m not telling you a thing, because that’s the question that everyone wants to know. So let that evolve, let that happen. And I think you’ll like it.”
Does Mandy regret how it ended with Paddy?
“No, Mandy doesn’t have regrets. And if she did have a regret, she’d just make a joke. Bravado. She will play the bravado card anyway, even if she’s hurting inside. For example, if she saw Paddy and Chas embrace, you wouldn’t necessarily visually see it, unless there might be a certain person she might tell, but she would never let them see it, ever. She’s a big tree, you’ve got to chip away at her constantly.”
Are you proud to have been at the start of the Dingle dynasty?
“I think that was our brilliance at the beginning, because we were just this unit, we wanted it to work. They called Mandy the tart with the heart, that’s what she was and that’s what she is, but that’s got to come from this group of people and of course, you were in the Dingle family all the time, and that’s why it works. People say, ‘There’s so many Dingles’ but I think it’s because it works, and I think to be writer on Emmerdale, it must be great to be able to write for the Dingles because you can take them on many avenues. You can give them comedy, you can give them storylines that will break your heart.
“There’s so many now, all of the men with the biblical names. There’s still many male names in the Bible which we can use. Though Vinnie’s not… we’ve not kept Vinnie biblical have we? So, is he a Dingle? There’s many aspects of that…”
Don’t miss Lisa Riley’s return to Emmerdale starting early January 2019.
More Dingle articles from The Emmerdaily: