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Home / Latest News / Tripping the light fantastic: Lisa Riley lifts the lid on life in Strictly Confidential

Tripping the light fantastic: Lisa Riley lifts the lid on life in Strictly Confidential

Every year Strictly Come Dancing producers manage   to unearth a somewhat surprising raw talent – someone who   wins the heart of the audience with   their big personality and captures  the true essence of what the Saturday night prime time show really   is.

In 2011, there was Russell Grant   being fired out of a cannon, the year before that  Anne Widdecombe  shimmied up to Anton  du Beke and who can   forget John Sergeant  dragging Siberian siren  Kristina Rihanoff across  the floor?

But none have left the   show on such a high as  Lisa Riley. The former Emmerdale actress may  not have quite got her  hands on the coveted  glitterball trophy, having   finally lost out in the semi-finals,   but she is the only contestant ever  to have had a show written just for  her by judge and choreographer Craig   Revel-Horwood.

The result of   that is Strictly Confidential, which  will tell the behind the scenes  story and reveal  what it takes to   be a professional   dancer in the   country’s biggest   dance show. At Cardiff’s   Motorpoint Arena on   Sunday night, it also   stars professionals  Artem Chigvintsev,   Natalie Lowe and   Ian Waite, giving the   audience never- seen-before insight   into their paths to   professional dancers   with songs, music   and breathtaking   dance routines.

Revel-Horwood  has written Strictly  Confidential in Lisa’s  honour.

It is, says Lisa, a musical   format he has had rattling   round in his head from as far   back as the second series   of Strictly – and then she  came along, something   which the Bury-born   actress and former voice of You’ve  Been Framed, is extremely honoured about.

“He was waiting for someone  who could act, sing and dance and  that was me. It’s an incredible honour and I feel absolutely elated to  have something written with me in  mind.

“It was amazing enough to be   involved in something   like Strictly – but to then  star in the live show and  now this, it’s just been  non-stop ever since.

“I’ve got lots of energy   and it’s a good thing because I literally haven’t  stopped since I started  rehearsals for the original show.

“It’s like I’m still living in that Strictly   bubble and I’m not going to complain about that. Who would?”

Natalie Lowe, Artem Chigvintsev, Lisa Riley and Ian Waite
Natalie Lowe, Artem Chigvintsev, Lisa Riley and Ian Waite


Robin Windsor partnered Lisa to   success and she says they have   become incredibly close since the  show, which was filmed just  weeks after she lost her   mum to cancer.

Her mother Cath,  57, died in her arms  just weeks before Lisa  started in Strictly, following a long battle  with cancer.

“I am on the   phone to Robin all the time and we’re planning a   holiday.

“He has just  been the greatest friend ever to me and I completely love him.   He’s got his own shows  to concentrate on but  he’s been so supportive  of Strictly Confidential.   And it means I get to spend all day with his best friend Artem.

“We’ve been rehearsing  for hours, days and weeks   and I can’t wait to bring it to Cardiff. After all, the Welsh love a bit of camp don’t they?

“I’m sure the audience will  love the show. It’s pure entertainment, but I think they will find it informative too.

   “We’ve been rehearsing   really hard for it – in fact, I   haven’t stopped working  since I was on Strictly.

“I’m not afraid of a bit of hard  work. I’ve always worked as hard as I can.

“I like to be busy. We were in the  practice room for nine hours a day  during the show. I’ve never slept so well. When my head hit the pillow,   I was zonked. I didn’t have one day   off. We got knocked out in the  semi-finals but I was then in rehearsals for the live show.

“Straight after the final, I did panto. I had Christmas day off, finished the panto on the 6th and  started the arena tour on the 7th –   that’s been my life but I’m not   complaining. It’s been a blast.”

Since first appearing on the show,   Lisa has been constantly asked  about her weight loss and though  she says it’s not something she chooses to dwell on, it is liberating to be able to eat what she wants and  know she’s working it off.

“Everyone has been talking   about my weight loss but it’s not   omething I’ve done on purpose.   When we are rehearsing we are   constantly surrounded by mirrors so   I’ve not noticed a huge difference.   But when I’ve gone home it’s my  friends who’ve said, ‘Jesus Christ   Riley, what’s happening to you?’   and then I’ve realised that yes, my  body has changed with all this  dancing.

“I know I can’t go and eat a big  bowl of pasta before performing as  it’ll just make me sick but I haven’t  started just eating celery and still have chocolate and crisps.

“I’m proud that some people   see me as a role model for bigger girls.

“I’m confident. And when I first   started on Strictly, I went out and did a full-on samba that even Robin struggled to keep up with. That’s what I am so proud of.

“Thanks to Strictly, I’ve hopefully shown women that you don’t  have to be big to be fit or wear  sparkly dresses and dance around a   stage and have fun. It’s just been so   non-stop and I’m still loving it.

“I’m elated to be part of the   Strictly family and being in Strictly  Confidential, and giving people the   chance to learn a little about   what goes on behind-the-scenes is   fab.”

Creator Craig Revel Horwood,  who also directs the Strictly Come  Dancing Live arena tours said: “It’s  exciting to give fans an autobiographical take on this hit show,  while also incorporating some of  the shows favourite moments.

“I’ve been working on Strictly Confidential for a while now and it’s a dream that everything is all coming together.”

Strictly Confidential is at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on Sunday. Tickets from the box office on 029 20 22 44 88 or via

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