Rachel Riley never imagined she would be famous.

Rachel Riley reflects on surprise TV career

Rachel Riley reflects on surprise TV career

The 37-year-old TV star replaced the long-serving Carol Vorderman as the co-host of puzzle gameshow ‘Countdown’ shortly after she graduated with a Maths degree from the University of Oxford in 2009 and feels “lucky” to have been able to explore other sides of show business because of her job.

She told Metro newspaper’s SixtySeconds column: “I used to watch ‘Countdown’ as a kid and the maths was obviously my favourite bit. Often when I get asked to do a campaign or photoshoot, I'm asked to wear a white coat or something, and I'm like, 'I am a mathematician.

“This is what I look like, this is what I wear. I don't have to wear a white coat.'

It's good to have a mix of people as role models. If you can relate to them you think, "Maybe I could do that.'

“I'm lucky that in my job I get to dip in and out of a load of industries. When I was young, these jobs didn't exist. And kids growing up now will be doing jobs that don't currently exist. There's so much opportunity there now for STEM students.

“There's only one ‘Countdown’, obviously. I was doing a maths degree and my mum said, 'Are you going to be Carol Vorderman then?" And I was like, 'What an idiot.' Because it was ridiculous!”

Rachel – who has competed on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and married her professional partner Pasha Kovalev from the series – went on to add that she had “never” done any performing when she landed the job and “would have laughed” at how her life eventually turned out.

She said: “It wasn't even that job, it was Carol. I had never done any drama or public speaking so I had to learn it all on the job.

“I couldn’t have written any of this. An Essex girl who liked football and was a bit of a maths geek, ended up on 'Countdown' and married to a Russian ballroom dancer... I would have laughed you out of the room!”