Lisa Riley: ‘I made a best friend for life on Strictly’

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Since reaching the semi finals of Strictly Come Dancing last year, Emmerdale actress Lisa Riley’s public profile has sky rocketed.

Described by judge Len as the people’s champion, she loved every second – even if she didn’t win the glitter ball.

Natalie Lowe, Artem Chigvintsev, Lisa Riley and Ian Waite in Strictly Confidential

Natalie Lowe, Artem Chigvintsev, Lisa Riley and Ian Waite in Strictly Confidential

And now the Kings Theatre patron is back in the area as part of Craig Revel Horwood’s Strictly Confidential at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, from Monday until Saturday.

Speaking just hours before the tour started in Plymouth, Lisa excitedly says: ‘I’ve been enjoying rehearsals so much. We have a wonderful life band and acting monologues, which allows the audience to find out about the professional dancers.

Lisa is joined by series regulars and professional dancers Artem Chigvintsev, Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite in the touring production.

‘They are involved with the show year on year – they are the real celebrities. You also find out just how hard it is from them to get onto the show.’

And the show gives audience members an insight into Lisa’s career before the show.

She explains: ‘There’s been highs, lows and great parts to my career and that is shown. I’m also singing, acting and dancing in the production. It’s really exciting.’

And they haven’t forgotten her iconic dances with partner Robin Windsor on the series such as the cha cha and the fox trot.

Lisa says: ‘They are in there, but completely different. On the main show you have one minute and 33 seconds but now we have a full production number.’

Since finishing Strictly in December, her life has been nonstop.

‘I had a week’s holiday in March but other than that I’ve been working. I’m very lucky and I’m not the kind of person who says I want this to happen, it just seems to be happening.

‘I made a best friend for life on Strictly with Robin and we’re going on holiday together soon. I’m just very lucky.’

She adds: ‘It’s been absolutely amazing everywhere I go so much more. I was in the third biggest soap in the country but now it’s very different. It’s happening everywhere I go.

‘Those people that picked up the phone I’m indebted to. We didn’t win but when people think about the series 2012 they think of me and Robin.’

And the touring is something she loves, especially as it gives her a different audience to work with each evening.

Lisa says: ‘They will never respond the same way to a gag, and I love that. When you’re in a TV show you don’t really know how people are reacting.

‘I’m going to Southampton, which isn’t quite Portsmouth, but I hope people will come down the road a bit and support me. The Kings Theatre is always in my heart and I’m proud to be a patron of there.’

And it’s just been announced that Lisa’s autobiography will come out this autumn.

She explains: ‘It’s been a lot of hard work, but I hope people will see that, from the bottom of my heart, this is who I am.’

Tickets: £28 to £42 from the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, on (023) 8071 1811 or go to mayflower.org.uk.