Rachel Riley: "I never intended to go into the TV industry"

Donna Ferguson
Rachel Riley:
Rachel Riley:

TV presenter Rachel Riley worried that her job on Countdown would be "just a flash in the pan" when she first started on the show.

Riley, who is 29, was offered the role shortly after leaving university. Here, she reveals the difference the job has made to her life, financially - and how, when she first started on Countdown, she didn't know whether the job would last.

What's the first extravagant purchase you made after you got the job on Countdown?

I went shopping for a winter coat and bought two. Each cost £180. One was black and really warm and sensible. The other was blue and quite smart, from Karen Millen. I only wore it a few times - it hasn't stood the test of time.

Are you good with money?

Yes, I've always been quite good at handling money. My parents taught me well. My father is an accountant and has always worked in finance. He is king of the spreadsheets - keeps track of everything. My mother has worked in a lot of different jobs. She's a real doer. When I was little, she had her own businesses - everything from a dried flower business, a catering business and party bag businesses - so I'd say she is quite entrepreneurial. And my uncle used to be a pensions adviser. I remember he'd come round and have these grown-up discussions with my parents about their pensions. They've always been sensible and planned for their futures.

Do you believe you should work hard, play hard?

Yes. My work's not 9 to 5 like my friends' work can be, and I don't always have weekends free. I also spend quite a lot of time away from home when I'm working and because of that, there's never anything in my fridge. So I really enjoy seeing my friends when I can, treating them and going out dinner. I also like travelling - whenever I can tag along on someone's trip, I will. And I like buying presents. I probably spend too much at Christmas, for example.

Did you go on Strictly Come Dancing to earn some extra money?

No. I'm lucky - because of the Countdown job, I feel like I can choose to do things because I want to do them, not because I need the money. But then again, because I was filming other shows as well as Strictly, I was very busy at the time. I'd never danced before and sometimes my brain just wasn't there. It made me slow to pick stuff up.

Is financial security important to you?

Definitely. I've had a job since I was 15 consistently - except when I was at university, when I'd come back and work in the holidays. I certainly never intended to go into the TV industry. To be in a position where your job could be taken away at any time would be quite unnerving for

anyone and when I first started on Countdown, I didn't know how long the job was going to last. It could have just been a flash in the pan. But now, because I know I'm secure in my Countdown contract, other TV opportunities that come in - like Strictly Come Dancing or the Gadget Show - are kind of a bonus.

Do you think there's a lot of pressure to buy a property and isn't always the right decision?

Yes. Personally, I'm enjoying renting - although I was brought up thinking owning a property is always the best thing. It's a British thing; in different countries in the world, most people rent. I think it's one of those things that you need to do the numbers, and work out what is right for you and how much you can afford. Renting gives me the flexibility to up sticks and move at any time.

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