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'One of them asked me about my work, and I told him, in Russian, that I do numbers on TV. It's Not Rocket Science on ITV sees Rachel, 30, and her co-presenters - comedians and fellow brainboxes Ben Miller, who did a Ph D in solid state physics, and Romesh Ranganathan, an ex-maths teacher - attempt to bring science to the masses. 'People hear the word "science" and they think lab coats and Bunsens. Flying through a walof flames seems tame in comparison to what the men have to do.

He called Pasha over and said, "She says she does numbers on TV. 'Each week one of us risks our lives to prove a scientific theory,' Rachel explains cheerily.

There were no dramas.'It's clear she has a very different relationship with Pasha, 36. I don't think it would add to our relationship at the moment. He doesn't think about the future, it's a different mentality. I joke that she's got the air of a woman who woke up one day and decided to run away with the circus.

There aren't any wedding plans here, and there's certainly no talk about the long-term future. If you ask Pasha a normal question about where he sees us in a year's time, he's like, "Why do you think like that? She's even got the highwire skills now, to a point.

A mathematics graduate, her television debut came when she joined Countdown at age 22.

With a passion for popularising maths and the sciences, she has gone on to co-present The Gadget Show on Channel 5 (2013–14) and It's Not Rocket Science on ITV (2016).

Seriously, though, the role does mark another chapter in Rachel's TV career, one which started when she was plucked fresh from a maths degree at Oxford and handed a jewel in the broadcasting crown - the Countdown numbers role Carol Vorderman had made her own.

It was a baptism of fire for someone with no TV training, and no media background.

Hasn't she struggled a bit given that she's a numbers person rather than a linguist, I ask hopefully, clinging to the idea that no one can be good at everything?In 2013 she was a contestant on the BBC celebrity dance show Strictly Come Dancing.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.Someone like Chris Packham wasn't a TV presenter before.I don't think there's such a thing as a TV presenter any more.The therapy made me realise I'm a perfectionist, which I never thought I was.'This idea of struggling to live up to an expected standard had been a long-standing issue, she realised. I think girls tend to think like that, especially high achievers. That's what I was doing for a long time.' With no outward signs of it being a problem, clearly. She points out that her marriage, to the sweet boy she'd met at university, was part of that trajectory. Although the marriage produced no children, they did have cats - which posed a custody issue. He gets on well with Pasha, and we're still great friends. I don't feel the pressure any more.'She's just bought a house, and chats away about plans to furnish it, but there's no real sense that this is a family home. 'I've got all the security I need because we're happy.For my birthday he got me an adopted bear from the World Wide Fund for Nature. No one can say what they're going to be doing or feeling in a year's time so there's no point in worrying about it.'It's a dramatic volte-face, she admits.'Falling in love is the best thing in the world,' she says. There are two families that have come together as one - I was, am, very close to his family - but it was the right thing to do.'The wider family must have been shocked, though, given that she and Jamie had been together on and off for eight years, if only married for 15 months? If you're together for a while you think you should either get married or split up.'I'm really happy.' She's quick to correct the assumption that this falling in love happened on the dance floor, insisting that it came later - after she was the fifth person voted off - when her marriage was over. My boyfriend isn't the same person who taught me to dance.' When did it change? I was basically by myself for a few months, away from home. There's no doubt the timing contributed to the split, but I'm sure Strictly wasn't the reason.' Would the marriage have ended anyway? It would just probably have been longer and more painful.'Strictly also furnished her with an unexpected - and life-changing, she says - twist. If you're not married, you just stay together tilyou don't want to be together any more, then you split up, and it's fine. He's got a bunch of suitcases at his place, but he's often off on tour.There are just people who go on TV.'Obviously her stint on Strictly did much to bring her to the masses, and further challenge the idea of her as little more than a sweet girl-next-door who could count.Running off with her professional partner, though, was perhaps taking this notion a bit far.

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  1. Comedy · If a clock could count down to the moment you meet your soul mate, would you want to know?

  2. Nov 22, 2015. COUNTDOWN star Rachel, 29, lives in London and is dating dancer Pasha Kovalev.

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