Rachel Riley wants to surpass
The Countdown assistant, 35, who took over from Carol, 60, in 2008 says she’ll stay in the job for as long as bosses will have her, after going from a 22-year-old when she first started to now being married, with a child and second on the way.
In an exclusive interview Rachel told MailOnline ‘it doesn’t make much of a difference’ if the host is male or female, and she believes there’s been a ‘balance’ over the years, as Anne Robinson, 76, makes her mark on the show with her ‘wit and personality.’
‘It’s been a nice coming of age’: Rachel Riley wants to surpass Carol Vorderman’s run of 26 years on Countdown – and says it’s a ‘non-issue’ the Channel 4 show’s host is a man or woman
She said: ‘As long as they’ll have me! I’m halfway there already. She did 26 years when I took over. I love it and I’m really lucky that it brings me other opportunities, and it’s not everyday so I’ve been able to have loads of family time.
‘It’s really fun and I’m really good friends with Susie who I’ve worked with all this time and the team behind the scenes are brilliant.
‘2008 is when I got the job and started filming. It feels like no time and all the time, it’s one of those things. Time has lost all meaning especially since lockdown and now with a child you base all your time pre-baby.
‘We have such a loyal viewership; it’s been a nice coming of age. I was only 22 when I got the job, now I’m married with a baby and one on the way, it’s been nice sharing that with the viewers.
‘When Maven was born people were sending kitted cardigans and blankets and some of our favourite things we put her in were knitted by Countdown fans.’
‘I love it and I’m really lucky’: The Countdown assistant, who took over from Carol in 2008, says she’ll stay in the job for as long as bosses will have her
‘It shouldn’t really be an issue’: Rachel told MailOnline ‘it doesn’t make much of a difference’ if the Countdown host is male or female, as Anne Robinson makes her mark on the show
On being part of the show’s first all-female lineup, Rachel said: ‘We look forward to the day when it’s not really commented on.
‘I haven’t spoken to Anne about this but it’s been touted in various interviews and we share the same opinion, it shouldn’t really be an issue if she’s a man or a woman. It’s not like there have been no women on Countdown, Susie has been on there 29 years and I’ve been there on 13 years and we’re the experts on the show.
‘It’s a non-issue really whether it’s a man or a woman. She’s the sixth host; there’s been a balance for me.
‘Across TV things are changing and there has definitely been a need for more women on comedy programs and different people represented on screen, which I think is happening but in terms of whether we have a man or woman presenting Countdown it doesn’t make much of a difference to me, if you’re qualified for the job.
‘She brings her own personality to it and her own wit and her own interest to the show. The good thing about Countdown is people don’t really care who’s hosting it, it’s about the letters and the numbers and that’s why it’s lasted so long.’
‘People don’t care who’s hosting it’: The pregnant star says she looks forward to time when the gender of a presenter isn’t discussed and she believes there’s been a ‘balance’ on Countdown
As the new host of Countdown, taking over from Nick Hewer, 77, Anne is already having ‘banter’ with the contestants, and following her 12-year presenting gig on the Weakest Link, took to the role like a duck to water.
Rachel said: ‘We have done nine filming days with her now which is over the course of three blocks because we do three days in a run, and she’s found her feet so quickly.
‘The cool thing about Countdown is that your first three days in a brand-new job is three weeks’ worth of TV.
‘At that stage everything is new and she’s a seasoned professional, so she did really well but for me seeing how quickly over just three blocks she’s made it her own, she’s comfortable, having banter with contestants, it’s all gelled really quickly so viewers watching the next few weeks will see it loosen up and find itself, as we have. Very, very quickly it has its own personality.’
Rachel competed on Strictly Come Dancing in 2013, which was where she met husband Pasha Kovalev, 41, when they were paired together on the show.
‘I avoid it’: Rachel, who’s married and shares daughter Maven with ex Strictly pro Pasha Kovalev, admitted she was ‘terrified’ while competing on the show in 2013
The couple, who had a Las Vegas wedding in 2019, welcomed daughter Maven in the same year, and are currently expecting their second baby.
Despite her husband being a former star of the series, Rachel admits she ‘avoids’ Strictly after needing Cognitive behavioural therapy to recover from her experience.
She said: ‘It still terrifies me. I’ve had CBT since because it was so terrifying. I just avoid it to be honest.
‘I love dancing; when Pasha and I go on holiday we always find a salsa club whether we were in Indonesia or LA or Cannes, wherever we were in the world.
‘I’ve had a bit of a belly for the last couple of years so as soon as I don’t we’ll go somewhere. It’s really great and when we’ve been on holiday with our mums he’s like spinning them around and they love it as well. He gets very good brownie points.’
‘I love dancing’: Rachel said she and Pasha, who met in 2013 when they performed together on the series, find a salsa club wherever they holiday as their way of enjoying dance as a couple
Rachel said she and Pasha felt unsure children were in their future during the early stages of their relationship, but after reflecting on her age and the possibility starting a family may not be easy, they decided to go full steam ahead.
‘We’ve bashed them out! Get the sleep deprivation over in one go is the plan’, she explained.
‘I’m 35 and I’ve got friends that are struggling with fertility, and you just never know if you’re going to be able to get pregnant, we have been really lucky, touch wood and we’re very excited. They’re great, we weren’t sure if we wanted them before and we’re just both in love, it’s lovely.
‘My first pregnancy was really mild and this one, you barely even notice it. Obviously, I’m chasing after a toddler the whole time, so it’s a different experience.
‘The first time you focus on the pregnancy and looking at yourself but the second time you know there’s a baby coming and you’re thinking about what the future is going to look like with your family of four, rather than focusing on your stomach looking different. It’s an incredible thing the human body and I was lucky my giving birth experience was good.’
‘It has lots of green credentials’: Rachel, pictured with a smart meter in-home display, has teamed up with Smart Energy GB to encourage the nation to install smart meters at home
Rachel has teamed up with Smart Energy GB to encourage the nation to install smart meters in their homes, which can be done free of charge, and will help to make the country a greener place.
The TV star discussed the findings of a report that investigated how a new wave of smart products including Hydroponic Garden Kits will affect how we live by 2035.
Findings indicate that in 15 years’ time, fully automated smart homes will be widely available, and everyday appliances such as washing machines and fridges will have smart meters embedded in them.
Rachel explained: ‘Instead of getting the annoying emails from your gas and electric company every few months to say we need your meter reading, you can now get a free smart meter that sends them the information without you having to bother.
‘It has lots of green credentials, the energy companies can use the data they get from it to use greener energy at certain peak times, and they can make sure that energy is available from green sources rather than fossil fuels. You can see your energy uses in real time, so you get a display with it.
‘You can see your energy uses in real time’: The TV star discussed the findings of a report that investigated how a new wave of smart products will affect how we live by 2035
‘We’re looking at what we may be having in the home in 15-20 years time, as Britain is hoping to go net zero, using AI technology to grow plants, whether you’re growing them at home to eat, or as part of a communal building project, smart technology will be able to water the plants just the right amount they need, the right amount of light, using energy when there’s not a surge in the country so you’re more likely to use sustainable sources.
‘There are lots of other great technological advances as time goes on for older people, to monitor energy patterns and if they change for some reason, it might be able to notify a doctor because that person might need a bit of help.
‘As we go forward with smart homes, a lot of people have Alexa, but so many of our key bits of tech like washing machines and fridges, they will have smart technology embedded in them – at that part the smart meters will be able to interact with them and tell you when they need fixing, or charge your electric vehicle for you when it’s cheapest, things like that.
‘All anyone needs to know right now is they can get a smart meter for free, 24 million have already been installed around the country, and even by not looking at your energy meter, you will be helping make the country a bit greener, because that data can be used to do things behind the scenes.’
- Rachel has teamed up with Smart Energy GB to demonstrate how a smart energy system, enabled by smart meters, will lay the groundwork for many exciting future innovations