Lisa Riley: Strictly was my lifeline during my late mum’s illness

Lisa Riley says her time on last year’s Strictly Come Dancing helped her to cope with the heartbreak of her mum’s death.

The former Emmerdale star also said that despite her mum having died of breast cancer, she wouldn’t be having any genetic testing done because she liked to live for today, as her mum did, too.

She said: “Me and mum were carbon copies of each other. She was the life and soul and would never have wanted me to sit and throw my head in a pillow and cry, but I was dying inside.

“It was devastating. My whole life just felt like it was over, yet on the other side of the coin my mum knew that I’d got Strictly and said, ‘Darling, just be you’, and that’s what I did during the series. I went for it.”

Lisa added: “No, I haven’t had any genetic testing to see if I’m more susceptible. I live every day for today, not longevity, and also I could get knocked over by a bus tomorrow so what’s the point worrying about it all too much? And me, Mum and Poppa [her grandfather, who also died of cancer] always laughed at what a terrible gene pool they’d given me.”

Lisa, who is hosting the upcoming Strictly live tour, said dancing with partner Robin Windsor had helped hone her image.

She explained: “My confidence with Strictly rose to gas mark 10. There had been times when my confidence had been knocked, career-wise. For the first time, the press could not turn round and say, ‘You are unhealthy’. I ran up them stairs quicker than Robin and he’s been dancing since he was five. They couldn’t say, ‘You’re fat and unfit’, because I’m so fit.

“Because of Strictly, I was allowed to have this voice, and for the first time in my life I could wear what the hell I liked and I could be sexy.”