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.
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
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
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
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.
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.