Viewers saw Lisa Dingle for the first time in almost a year tonight (8 March) as it was revealed that she has a terminal heart condition.

During tonight’s episode which marked International Women’s Day viewers saw Charity, played by Emma Atkins, react to Lisa’s devastating diagnosis after secretly meeting up with her in Scotland.

Lisa, who has been played by Jane Cox for 23 years, asked Charity to prepare her eulogy and urged her to keep the news between them for now. Cox will return to Emmerdale with on screen ‘husband’ Steve Halliwell as the pair’s characters are integrated back into the Dingle family fold before filming the final chapters of Lisa’s life.

Cox has been on a break from the ITV soap over the past year with Lisa announcing in May 2018 that she was moving to Scotland to work with young offenders. This came after a family disagreement over Lisa reporting Aaron’s sister Liv to the police after she was party to her drink being spiked with ketamine in a dangerous prank. Halliwell, who has played Dingle patriarch Zak since 1994, has also been absent from screens in recent months after having a pacemaker fitted. 

Lisa with husband Zak

Lisa and daughter Belle

“Lisa is so close to my heart as she’s been such a huge part of my life for the past more than 23 years. So I know I will shed more than a few tears when it comes to filming her final scenes. But I’m really looking forward to my return to the show to tell this story and to give the character of Lisa a deserving farewell. I will miss her.” – Jane Cox

The character of Lisa was brought into Emmerdale in 1996 as a love interest for Zak Dingle after the abrupt departure of actress Sandra Gough, who played Zak’s first wife Nellie. In 2011, Cox won praise for a hard-hitting storyline in which her character was raped by fellow factory worker, Derek Benrose.

Other storylines to feature the long-running character include becoming a mum late in life after giving birth to Belle in the Dingle’s pigsty on Christmas Day 1998, dealing with various family crises including Zak and Belle’s mental health troubles and being humiliated by Zak after he cheated on her with their lodger Joanie, which led to their divorce after 18 years of marriage. Lisa has previously suffered a heart attack and angina attacks.

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