Rachel Riley 2011s
Rachel Annabelle Riley[1] (born 11 January 1986[2]) is an English television presenter best known for being a co-presenter on Countdown on Channel 4 and The Gadget Show on Channel 5.

Riley was also a participant in the eleventh series of Strictly Come Dancing, where she was the 5th contestant to be eliminated from the show on 3 November 2013.

Early life

Born in Rochford, Essex,[3] to an accountant father Christopher [4] and his wife Celia (she also has a younger brother, Alex),[5] Riley describes herself as a "non-religious" Jew.[6] Riley was brought up in the Thorpe Bay area of Southend-on-Sea and was educated at the independent Thorpe Hall School, and Southend High School for Girls, a grammar school, where she obtained four As at A-Level. She then read mathematics at Oriel College, Oxford, gaining an upper second-class honours degree.[7][8]

Before she appeared on Countdown, she did an internship in The City at Deutsche Bank during a university vacation, but did not like the experience,[9] explaining that she "..simply didn’t like the environment..",[10] and after university worked as an analyst for a price-comparison website.[11]



In January 2009, Riley replaced Carol Vorderman as the co-host of Countdown doing the letters and numbers selection and mathematics solutions. She hosts the show alongside Nick Hewer.[12] Riley has co-presented over 1,000 episodes of Countdown.

Riley was encouraged to apply for the Countdown position by her mother. She did not have an ambition to be a television presenter, but decided to apply because she was interested in the numbers part of the game.[13] Riley was chosen from more than a thousand applicants despite having no television experience. In an article for BBC News, she said, "There's only one cool maths job around and I was lucky enough to get it so I'm absolutely thrilled".[14] She began presenting Countdown alongside Jeff Stelling from 12 January 2009.

In an interview in August 2009, Riley revealed that it had been difficult for her to step into Vorderman's shoes, and that she had even been criticised by certain Countdown viewers for getting some of the maths puzzles wrong.[13] Since January 2012, she has presented the programme alongside Nick Hewer, with whom she has reportedly had problems in getting on,[15] stating on one occasion that they were "chalk and cheese".[16] Her 1,000th episode was shown on 25 June 2013, where she was presented with a signed shirt and a bunch of flowers by Manchester United player Ryan Giggs[17][18] who had celebrated his 1,000th football pitch appearance the same year.

Riley also does the letters and numbers rounds on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. In a recent episode during the 30 second 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown host Jimmy Carr sawed Rachel Riley in half in the Clearly Impossible illusion, but with the time being so short Rachel was wheeled off stage still in half, then when the camera cut to the board Rachel had been restored to her normal self.

The Gadget Show

Since June 2013, Riley has been a presenter on the Channel 5 programme The Gadget Show. She co-hosts the programme with Jason Bradbury.[19] Her first series (series 19), was shown for nine episodes from 3 June 2013. Her second series (series 20) began on 14 October 2013 and continued for 22 episodes. Her third and final series (series 21) began on 24 February 2014 for 9 episodes.

It was reported on 25 April 2014 that Riley was leaving The Gadget Show after presenting three series of the programme. She was replaced by ex-Olympic gold medal winner Amy Williams.[20]

Strictly Come Dancing

From September 2013, Riley appeared in the eleventh series of the BBC One ballroom dancing programme Strictly Come Dancing with professional dancing partner Pasha Kovalev. She was eventually eliminated on 3 November, after losing out in the dance-off against Abbey Clancy and Aljaž Škorjanec.

Week # Dance/Song Judges' scores Result
Craig Revel Horwood Darcey Bussell Len Goodman Bruno Tonioli Total
1 Waltz / "When I Need You" 6 7 7 7 27 Safe
2 Salsa / "Get Lucky" 4 5 6 5 20 Safe
3 Cha Cha Cha / "When Love Takes Over" 6 7 7 7 27 Safe
4 Quickstep / "Johnny Got a Boom Boom" 5 7 7 7 26 Bottom two
5 Paso Doble / "Maneater" 4 6 6 6 22 Safe
6 American Smooth / "I Put a Spell on You" 7 7 8 8 30 Eliminated

Guest appearances

She has also made brief appearances in such shows as The IT Crowd, Dispatches, Britain's Brightest and 1001 Things You Should Know.


On 26 June 2009, it was reported that Riley had been recruited by Royal Mail to employ her mathematical skills to help advise holidaymakers on how to make the most of their holiday currency, after a report by the Post Office revealed that a significant number of holidaymakers fail to calculate the actual cost of goods and services when travelling abroad and often overspend their holiday budgets.[23]

In October 2010, Riley presented a programme on MUTV featuring a tour of Manchester United's training ground at Carrington. She has also hosted episodes of An Audience with... on MUTV.

Personal life

She, like her father (who was originally from Salford, Lancashire)[24] is a keen supporter of Manchester United.[17]

Riley met her husband, Jamie Gilbert, while they were both studying at Oxford University. The couple split up at the end of 2009 after four and a half years together.[25] They later got back together and became engaged after he proposed to her on her 25th birthday on 11 January 2011.[26] She told viewers about the engagement on the 25 February edition of Countdown and their wedding was on 11 August 2012.[27] It was announced on 29 November 2013 that she was splitting with her husband after 16 months of marriage.[28][29][30]

Riley was one of the celebrities, including Tom Hiddleston, Jo Brand, E. L. James and Benedict Cumberbatch, to design and sign her own card for the UK-based charity Thomas Coram Foundation for Children. The campaign was launched by crafting company Stampin’ Up! UK and the cards were auctioned off on eBay during May 2014.[31]

In May 2014, Riley revealed that she had been a victim of an eight-month campaign of threatening abuse from a stalker. The accused, a 31-year-old paranoid schizophreniac, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and placed under a restraining order preventing him from contacting Riley.[32] In September 2014, Riley and her former Strictly Come Dancing partner Pasha Kovalev announced they were dating.[33]


  1. "Names Database". Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  2. The 11 January 2011 edition of the show mentioned that that day was her 25th birthday.
  3. Campaign can count on Rachel Riley's support Evening Echo, 5 August 2009, accessdate=31 December 2013
  4. Countdown queen Rachel's wedding conundrum Daily Mail, 21 March 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  5. Rachel Riley grapples with crocs Tick and Tock Southend Standard, 30 January 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  6. Kay, Richard (21 March 2012). "RICHARD KAY: Countdown queen Rachel's wedding conundrum". Mail Online. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  7. "I really love Countdown... trust me, it is not being axed". Southend Echo. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  8. "New hosts Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley Debut on Countdown". The Tart. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  9. Vowel Play The Guardian, 3 January 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  10. Rachel Riley: 'Strictly magnified the fault lines in my marriage' Daily Telegraph, 18 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  11. Telegraph numeracy campaign: Remove the stigma around maths Daily Telegraph, 4 February 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  12. "Essex girl (and fresh Oxford graduate), 22, replaced Carol Vorderman on Countdown". Mail Online. 22 November 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Hardy, Rebecca (29 August 2009). "I didn't count on this abuse: Rachel Riley on why being Carol Vorderman's replacement adds up to a whole lot of grief". Mail Online. Retrieved 11 September 2009. 
  14. "Sky host Stelling joins Countdown". BBC News (BBC). 21 November 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  15. Countdown presenter Rachel Riley's conundrum: How can I get on with Nick Hewer? Daily Telegraph, 24 June 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  16. It all adds up for Rachel Riley Daily Mail, 3 April 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Media Monkey (24 June 2013). "Countdown: Rachel Riley red-faced over Ryan Giggs". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  18. Ryan Giggs to appear on Rachel Riley's 1,000th 'Countdown' episode - TV News - Digital Spy
  19. "The Gadget Show | Meet The Gadget Show’s new presenter: Rachel Riley! by The Gadget Show". Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  20. The Gadget Show’s new presenter is an Olympic champion!
  21. Celebrity Fifteen to One SERIES 1 - EPISODE 4 Radio Times
  22. "Celebrity Squares". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  23. Lander, Sebastian (26 June 2009). "Rachel Riley's currency countdown as Britons lose £288m a year over poor maths". Mail Online. Retrieved 11 July 2009. 
  24. Me a sex symbol? It just doesn’t add up, says Rachel Riley Southend Echo, 22 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
  25. Todd, Ben (1 January 2010). "Countdown's Rachel Riley is single after splitting with boyfriend of four years". Mail Online. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  26. "Rachel Riley begins the Countdown to her big day after getting engaged to millionaire boyfriend". Mail Online (Associated Newspapers Ltd). 25 January 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  27. Emily Sheridan (20 August 2012). "Countdown star Rachel Riley weds her university sweetheart". Mail Online. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  28. Carter, Claire (29 November 2013). "Rachel Riley in split from husband". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  29. "'Countdown' And 'Strictly' Star Rachel Riley 'Splits From Husband Jamie Gilbert After 16 Months Of Marriage'". Huffington Post. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  30. Davison, Rebecca (29 November 2013). "Countdown brainbox Rachel Riley splits from husband Jamie Gilbert after 15 months of marriage". Daily Mail (Daily Mail and General Trust). Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  31. Rebecca Pocklington (6 May 2014). "Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Jo Brand and more celebrities design and sign cards for UK's first children's charity". Mirror Online. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  32. "Countdown star Rachel Riley feared for life during stalker's 8-month campaign of vile abuse". Daily Mirror. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  33. "Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev have confirmed that they are a couple -". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 

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