|First appearance||12 January 2009|
|Episodes with Rachel Riley|
Born in Rochford, Riley graduated with an upper second class master's degree in mathematics from Oriel College, Oxford, the Alma mater of such people as Jon Bentley and Sir Walter Raleigh. She was chosen from around 1,000 applicants when it was decided to cast a previously unknown arithmetician to replace Carol Vorderman. Countdown is her first television experience.
Riley was born approximately three years and three months after the show was first broadcast (during the time of Series 8). She was brought up in Essex and attended Southend High School for Girls. She attended Oriel College at the University of Oxford where she received an upper second-class honours degree in mathematics. After graduating she started work as a data analyst for a London web design company.
Rise to fame
Rachel was chosen from a large pool of over 1,000 applicants for the job of hostess. The first stage was writing a 50-word paragraph on why she wanted the job, which according to an interview of August 2009 was centred mainly on her interest in the numbers game, and starting with "I am one from the top". The second part of the auditioning process was reportedly a screen test. She bought a short purple dress and recorded the clock music on her phone so she could practice. The news that she had passed came a few days later.
Outside Countdown, she has presented a few other television shows, such as The Gadget Show and It's Not Rocket Science. In October 2010, she presented a tour of the Trafford Training Centre in Carrington on MUTV, as she is a keen supporter of Manchester United F.C.. She has reportedly been watching games at Old Trafford since the age of 10.
Following in Carol Vorderman's footsteps, she appeared on the 11th series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2013. Like Vorderman, however, she was rather terrible – a subject frequently referenced by Jimmy Carr – although she did stay with Pasha Kovalev romantically after they were paired up on the show.
Riley met James Gilbert when they were studying together at Oriel College. They were dating for roughly four and a half years before they split for nine months between December 2009 and August 2010. Gilbert proposed to her on her 25th birthday (11 January 2011) and her engagement was announced on the 14 February 2011 show. They married on 11 August 2012, then divorced in late November 2013. From 2014, she started dating Pasha Kovalev, who made his first week of appearances on the show in Series 76. The couple proceeded to marry on 30 June 2019, and on 15 December 2019, Riley gave birth to a daughter, Maven Aria.
Riley announced her second pregnancy in April 2021. She later announced that she would not be present for the Series 84 finals as she would be on maternity leave. Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, who took part in the "Black to Front" edition of Countdown in September 2021, took her place for 60 episodes. Riley gave birth to her second daughter, Noa, on 5 November 2021, and returned on-screen on 15 March 2022.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Presenters||Guest||Lex||Max|
& Clarke Carlisle
|50 – 41||Jon Richardson
& Joe Wilkinson
|Jimmy Carr||Rachel Riley||Joe Wilkinson||David O'Doherty||Susie Dent||83|
& Sean Lock
|44 – 22||Sarah Millican,
& Susie Dent
|Jimmy Carr||Rachel Riley||David O'Doherty||Susie Dent||71|
& Sean Lock
|45 – 22*||Noel Fielding,
& Rachel Riley
|Jimmy Carr||Rachel Riley||The Brett Domino Trio||Susie Dent||80|