LISA Riley has never been a shrinking violet — but behind her smiles and confident, down-to-earth personality, the actress has revealed that she’s been living far from the life of riley.

She first won the country’s heart as Mandy Dingle in ITV1 soap Emmerdale where she stayed for six and a half years, before replacing the late Jeremy Beadle as the host of You’ve Been Framed.

She’s also enjoyed various roles on TV and stage, but her biggest achievement was getting to the semi-finals of last year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

But along with her high, the proud Bury girl suffered her biggest low in dealing with the grief of losing her mum Cath, aged 57, who died after a long running battle with cancer just weeks before she started the BBC show.

In her new book, entitled Never Judge a Book by its Cover, the actress opens up about her rollercoaster 12 months, dealing with her mother’s death to being asked to front the live Strictly Come Dancing arena live shows.

Lisa, aged 37, said: “I totally did strictly for my mum. Friends thought I was hiding behind it because of my grief. But that wasn’t the case. She wouldn’t have wanted me to be at home crying into my pillow.

“Whenever I had a blippy day I thought of her as my guiding light in the sky. When I was away working we used to talk on the phone 10 times a day. Even now when I pull into Euston the first thing I think of doing is ringing her to tell her I’m safe.

“If you knew mum she was full of beans and the most charismatic person I’ve ever known. She’s where I’ve got my personality from.

“There were days where I melted and was a total mess whilst filming strictly but I told them to turn the cameras off and they respected that. Come Saturday night when I had my sparkly outfit on I was fine and ready to dance for mum.”

Tottington-born Lisa attended Holly Mount RC Primary School in Greenmount and later St Gabriel's High School is outwardly proud of her northern roots.

Lisa said: “I’m Bury through and through. My family and friends are my be-all and end-all. Everybody who knows me knows success doesn’t change me.

“I was brought up in Tottington and I have such fond memories of growing up there. Everyone knew my mum, and when she passed away that really showed me the commitment of our community in Bury.”

In her frank autobiography, Lisa talks of her rollercoaster year, her career, growing up in Bury, as well as inadvertently becoming a role model for bigger women along the way.

She said: “Because of my size it’s great that I have inspired people of all sizes to get up and dance. I have had my ups and downs but I don’t think anyone has the right to judge anybody else.

“They wanted to call the book the Life of Riley – but I’ve not had my life yet. I was adamant about the title.”

Off the back of her performance on the hit BBC show, Lisa has now been announced as the face of the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour, which comes to the Phones 4u Arena for two dates in February next year.

She said: “The biggest news in my life is that I will be hosting the Strictly arena shows — in front of up to 40,000 people each day. Just to think that the likes of Michael Buble and Justin Timberlake can sell out the Phones4u Arena — a place where I have been many times — and I’ll be on the stage. It’s crazy. I have to pinch myself. Dance has taken over my life.

“With the strictly live shows we’re going all over — it’s like being a pop star. My whole year has been consumed by strictly, but I am in a lucky position where I am keeping my options open. The West End is what I would love, like most actors. But I’ll just do this and see where it takes me.”

Lisa Riley: Never Judge a Book by its Cover is out now.