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Rachel Annabelle Riley (born 11 January 1986) 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, to an accountant father Christopher and his wife Celia (she also has a younger brother, Alex), Riley's mother is Jewish and describes herself as a "non-religious Jew". 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 studied mathematics at Oriel College, Oxford, gaining an upper second-class honours degree.

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, explaining that she "..simply didn’t like the environment..", and after university worked as an analyst for a price-comparison website.



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. 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. 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".

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. Since January 2012, she has presented the programme alongside Nick Hewer, with whom she has reportedly had problems in getting on, stating on one occasion that they were "chalk and cheese". 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 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.

The Gadget Show

From June 2013 Riley was a presenter on the Channel 5 programme The Gadget Show. She co-hosts the programme with Jason Bradbury. 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 Olympic gold medal winner Amy Williams.

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.

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.

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), is a keen supporter of Manchester United.

Riley met 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. They later got back together and became engaged after he proposed to her on her 25th birthday on 11 January 2011. She told viewers about the engagement on the 25 February edition of Countdown and their wedding was on 11 August 2012. It was announced on 29 November 2013 that she and her husband were separating after 15 months of marriage.

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.

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 man with paranoid schizophrenia, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and placed under a restraining order preventing him from contacting Riley. In September 2014, Riley and her former Strictly Come Dancing partner Pasha Kovalev announced they were dating.




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