When iconic character Mandy Dingle (played by Lisa Riley) left Emmerdale it was a blow to the ITV soap and fans alike, as she’d regularly been named the favourite character and often garnered the most laughs.
Bosses have regularly tried to get actress and Loose Women panellist Lisa back to the soap, but she has consistently said no to invitations.
This year however, Lisa admitted she was starting to consider the possibility on an appearance on Loose Women, even giving some ideas of potential plot ideas for her return.
Now it has been revealed the star will officially be coming back to the village for a self-contained storyline, and will undoubtedly involve her former love and husband Paddy (Dominic Brunt).
Barmaid Mandy was always at the centre of the drama on Emmerdale, which included cheating scandals and another marriage to her cousin Butch Dingle.
This time, Mandy will be entering an incredibly sensitive zone as Paddy and Chas Dingle (Lucy Pargeter) continue to try and come to terms with the loss of their daughter Grace.
Ahead of the birth, Paddy and Chas had been madly in love, but the pair have started to drift apart since, so will Mandy end up driving a deeper wedge between the couple?
Lisa could barely contain her excitement at returning to the soap before the news broke.
“I could not be happier to be returning in the new year to Emmerdale,” she said. “It’s something I never thought would happen after 17 years. I am so interested to see what trouble Mandy is capable of causing.
“But mostly being back with all my old friends, it’s like I’ve never been away.”
The star played her character on Emmerdale from 1995 until 2001 and has since appeared in Waterloo Road, Three Girls and Age Before Beauty amongst others.
On a recent appearance on Loose Women, Lisa was overjoyed to receive a recorded message from her previous co-star Dominic, who revealed how much he missed his “partner in crime”.
Executive producer Kate Brooks has also teased exactly what fans can expect from Mandy’s return, and it looks like she’s going to drop a major bombshell.
She shared: “Iconic Mandy Dingle returns to the village carrying a secret that turns lives upside down.
“She’s a character bursting with fun who certainly ruffles a few feathers during her short stint back in the village. She clearly hasn’t lost any of the ‘joie de vivre’ that made Mandy so popular and enjoyable to watch.”
The writer added: “We’re delighted to welcome Lisa back to Emmerdale.”
With fans sure to be alarmed at the “secret” Kate spoke of, speculation will be swirling ahead of the character’s arrival.
One option could see Mandy telling Paddy she gave birth to his child 17 years ago, meaning Chas will undoubtedly be left heartbroken after only recently having to say goodbye to Grace.
Other theories could see Mandy’s secret simply being that she’s still in love with her ex-husband Paddy, and is in the village to make it her mission to get him back.
With Mandy’s return, could Lisa Dingle (Jane Cox) finally be coming back to live with her husband Zak Dingle (Steve Halliwell) too in a Dingle family reunion?