In a UK soap first, Emmerdale airs a series of special episodes about life in lockdown for the village residents, which this week includes Mandy Dingle and Vinny. Actress Lisa Riley teases a 15-yr-old secret that is going to be revealed!

Mandy Dingle in Emmerdale lockdown episodes
Mandy Dingle in Emmerdale lockdown episodes

Having been kicked out of the Dingle homestead, Mandy Dingle and son Vinny are camped out in the salon. With Paul the main topic of conversation Mandy and Vinny navigate through their past and soon Mandy discloses a long held secret that has affected her whole life. Vinny at last understands her long held resentments and fears. Actress Lisa Riley explains more…

How did you feel to be given this lockdown episode?
I was so flattered and really want to do justice to this storyline. Within the episode there is a massive secret revealed that Mandy has been keeping for 15 years. It has been so well written and it is so exciting. Brad (Vinny) and I really want to do this episode justice. We are really excited about it.

Was it hard to learn the script, given the amount of dialogue?
I am really on it as I like to really learn my lines well, I do that anyway. For this episode – well obviously it’s a hell of a lot to learn but I’m really on top of it. The brilliant thing, which is a first in all of our Emmerdale history, is that we are rehearsing on Facetime. So Brad and I are doing 40 minutes to an hour of rehearsal every day over Facetime where we bash out the lines together and it’s invaluable as we are finding little nuances in the script – we don’t normally get that opportunity so I think that makes it even more special.

Did this episode feel more collaborative?
It has been amazing to work with our brilliant producers and the director Ian Bevitt whom I’ve worked with since I was a child. We go back even before my Emmerdale days. When I found out he was directing this I was over the moon as I feel in safe hands with Ian. The four of us had a group online chat together and we got to make loads of little tweaks, but without giving it away, we did get to collaborate a bit.

Samantha Doland De Vaux has done a fabulous job with the script. We did get to add the odd thing, a bit of salt and pepper, but normal scripts we don’t do that. We get the script, we learn them, we rehearse and then we record them. But with this we have had quite a lot of input which has been great. I absolutely love the story we are telling in this episode as Mandy has a 15 year old secret that is the big ‘bomb’ of the episode. She has been sitting on this for so long and things will suddenly make so much sense. I can’t wait to play this out and it will have huge repercussions going forward.

Have you done an episode like this before?
Yes I have. Many years back, myself and Dominic Brunt (Paddy Kirk) were the first cast members in Emmerdale history to ever do a two hander episode, and it was one of my proudest TV moments sharing all those wonderful scenes with Dom.

Tell us about the actual filming process and how it differed from normal?
Do you know what is so brilliant for me with this is that as an actress we learn this as our craft when you are training and it really does stick with you. It is not just the line learning, but the visualisation of the moves from the rehearsal room. With our normal filming process we don’t have time to have a rehearsal day or a block through in a rehearsal room, but for this we have so when I’m now preparing for it I can visualise my moves that we blocked during the rehearsal day. It has been enormously helpful and so amazing. Another difference with filming is the reduced crew members and the bamboo stick! We have a two metre stick on set to stop us getting too close to each other.

What was lovely after the rehearsal time was that I got to visualise my words as I now know what I was going to be doing on each line. That honestly has helped me so much as I’m painting a picture in my head.

Is there anything you will miss from a normal filming day?
I will miss weird things like, there will be no fluids in our cups and glasses to drink. And it does feel very different to just be working with one cast member. The only lesson I do need to teach myself is putting on eyelashes and fake hair pieces. As otherwise for the first time in Mandy Dingle’s history, she will not be wearing false eyelashes, as I can’t put them on myself. For this episode and going forward, we are going to be doing our own hair and make up and as I can’t put on the eyelashes, we truly will have to scrap them for this episode.

Also Mandy is renowned for all her fake hair. I can’t put the hair pieces in so they will have to go. I have nine named hair pieces (Lisa has christened each hair piece she wears to play Mandy). I think the audience will be seeing ‘Cheryl Cole’ a whole lot because we need to simplify everything and I can’t put in the others. The Emmerdale makeup artists can’t touch me due to social distancing and I can’t put my lashes on myself or my hair pieces in.

Are you interested in how this episode is received and will you be keen to see the reaction?
I am a bit nervous as it’s new and a different format. Globally across the world, we are all now adapting to new circumstances. It is great to be back filming as we’ve been reading online how desperate the fans were for Emmerdale to come back and we were desperate to get back to filming too. But the world has changed so the audience will have to realise it’s not going to be quite the same and probably won’t be for a very long time. It’s all going to be brand new, a change is healthy sometimes.

I’m relishing this opportunity and I want us to give it a really good go and I’m so blessed with who I am working with and the story is just incredible with this secret reveal. This episode is very impactful and that is exciting.

Explain why Vinny and Mandy are in the salon for lockdown.
Sam is worried about Lydia, which will soon come to light in their episode. They have moved into the salon. Mandy is such a busybody she will have seen everyone so probably could be a superspreader so best to lock her down away from the others. The salon is great as they have a shower, a toilet, a microwave – what more do we need! They also have a karaoke machine. Leyla has clearly hidden the keys to the prosecco fridge so although Mandy does arrive with a stock of booze she soon ploughs it away so they run out – so then they want to tap into Leyla’s secret stash. Vinny just needs to find the key.

What are they sleeping on?
They have got a caravan camp bed each.

Is she happy to be in lockdown with her son?
She really is pleased to be with her son Vinny. Like everyone whilst on lockdown she gets the opportunity to take a little glance at herself. Mandy is very controlling where Vinny is concerned plus she wraps him in like 85 layers of cotton wool. So when he starts showing an interest in Liv Flaherty (Isobel Steele) I think Mandy gets a little bit jealous and in true Mandy style she does what she does and tries to put him off her. Essentially she is jealous of him being interested in spending time with someone else other than her.

Vinny is trying to get hold of his dad Paul. Why is Mandy trying to put him off?Mandy is petrified of getting hurt again. Paul Ashdale (Reece Dinsdale) has just set off the memories again of her pain and anguish. Mandy is walking on eggshells regarding him as she’s been so hurt and it has damaged her. So now with Vinny bringing him back into their lives she is very wary.

How have you been spending lock down?
Al and I have coped terrifically well together under lockdown. We really do work as we are all living with each other so closely 24/7. Al and I don’t have kids or pets so my heart goes out to my family and cousins who are struggling with their full houses. One of my cousins is a nurse, she is a sister at the local hospital and she has to come home after a full gruelling day at work and then be mum to her kids.  It is tough, as that is really hard.

We are blessed we have space in our house so if I want to watch Netflix in one room, he can be watching his sports nonsense in another room – so that is fine! So then we can come together and have great shared times. As a couple we are real talkers, but under lockdown I think we have talked even more than normal which has been really nice. It’s been fun. I’m a clean freak. I’m really hard to live with in that sense and being in lockdown has sent my clean freakness into the realms of ridiculous. So I’m really looking forward to going back to work and stepping away from the bleach.

See Mandy Dingle in lockdown with Vinny on Monday 15 June*

*subject to change