rachel riley

Rachel Riley opens up about the breakdown of her marriage to Jamie Gilbert

The Countdown host has since found love with Strictly's Pasha Kovalev

Sharnaz Shahid

Rachel Riley has opened up about the demise of her marriage to Jamie Gilbert, her high school sweetheart whom she divorced in 2013. During a candid chat with Alastair Campbell for British GQ, the Countdown host revealed Strictly Come Dancing was not the reason for the split – although, her filming commitment gave them some distance. "At that time, I was doing Countdown and The Gadget Show, so I was living in Essex," she shared. "I was filming in Birmingham and in Salford, and then filming Strictly in Borehamwood, with a bit of It Takes Two in London. I was getting three hours' sleep a night, trying to fit in all these things."

Rachel Riley fell in love with Pasha Kovalev after Strictly

"All you want to do at that time is the dancing because you know you’ve got to do this thing in a few days," she added. When asked if Strictly had contributed to the split, Rachel replied: "No. I'm still friends with my ex-husband. He's great, he's a brilliant guy." She added: "We were together since I was 19 and it wasn't right… What Strictly did give me was distance - because I was away from home in Birmingham, Salford, Borehamwood. It was the emotional distance that I needed to break away."

READ: Rachel Riley reveals who she would marry if things don't work out with Pasha Kovalev

Loading the player...

Rachel and Jamie announced their split in November 2013, following her appearance on the dancing show. A year later, the famous mathematician confirmed her romance with Strictly dance partner Pasha Kovalev, whom she is still dating. Speaking to the Radio Times last year, Rachel said: "I am in love now. I don't feel I have to get married. I don’t think I need that pressure any more. I don't worry about getting married or whether he is taking a long time in the morning or whether he has done the dishes. That does not really bother me in the long term. I feel settled."

READ: Rachel Riley credits this special person for successful Countdown career in rare post

She added in the interview: "I don't feel the need to do it again. If I'm with someone and I'm happy, that's enough." And touching on children briefly, she said: "I don't see myself with or without children - whatever will be, will be."

Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.