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Carol Vorderman

Carol Vorderman Waddington Airshow 2011 -6.jpg
Vorderman in 2011
Carol Jean Vorderman

(1960-12-24) 24 December 1960 (age 63)
Alma mater Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
  • Broadcaster
  • media personality
  • writer
Years active 1982–present
Spouse(s) Christopher Mather
(m. 1985; div. 1986)
Patrick King
(m. 1990; div. 2000)
Partner(s) Des Kelly (2001–2006)
Children 2
Relatives Adolphe Vorderman (great-grandfather)

Carol Jean Vorderman (born 24 December 1960) is a Welsh broadcaster, media personality, and writer. Her career began in 1982 when she joined the Channel 4 game show Countdown, appearing on the show with Richard Whiteley from 1982 until his death in 2005, and subsequently with Des Lynam and Des O'Connor, before leaving in 2008.

While appearing on Countdown, Vorderman began presenting other television shows for various broadcasters, including Better Homes (1991–2003) and The Pride of Britain Awards (1999–present) for ITV, as well as guest hosting shows such as Have I Got News for You (2004–2006) The Sunday Night Project (2006), and Lorraine (2011, 2018–2019, 2022). She was a presenter on the ITV talk show Loose Women from 2011 until 2014. She has also appeared on reality television shows, including Strictly Come Dancing (2004), I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! (2016) and The Great Celebrity Bake Off (2020), winning the latter show. Since 2022, Vorderman has been a news reviewer for This Morning.

Vorderman was honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to broadcasting in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2000. She has also worked as a newspaper columnist and nominal author of educational and diet books.

Vorderman left the BBC in November 2023 following criticism of her social media activity, saying she would "not be silenced".

Early life and education

Vorderman was born in Bedford, Bedfordshire, the youngest of three children of Dutch father, Anton Vorderman (1920–2007), and a Welsh mother, Edwina Jean Davies (1928–2017).

Her parents separated three weeks after her birth, and her mother took the family back to her home town of Prestatyn, Denbighshire, North Wales, where Vorderman and her brother and sister grew up in a one-parent household. Vorderman did not see her father again until she was 42. In 1970, her mother remarried, separating ten years later. Vorderman's father remarried; his wife died in the early 1990s.

Vorderman was educated at Blessed Edward Jones Catholic High School in nearby Rhyl. In 1978, aged 17, she began studying engineering at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. She left with a third-class degree, a result which she has described as having been "disappointing".

Vorderman did not trace the Dutch side of her family until 2007 (as part of the BBC genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are?). It was only then that she discovered that her father had been an active member of the Dutch resistance during the Nazi occupation. He died while the programme was being filmed. Her great-grandfather Adolphe Vorderman played a key role in the discovery of vitamins.

Early career

Vorderman initially found employment as a junior civil engineer at Dinorwig Power Station in Llanberis, Wales, and later as a graduate management trainee in Leeds. In her spare time, she was briefly a backing singer with friend Lindsay Forrest in the Leeds-based pop group Dawn Chorus and the Blue Tits, fronted by radio DJ Liz Kershaw during the early 1980s. The group recorded, among other songs, a version of The Undertones' hit "Teenage Kicks" (one of the tracks Vorderman had to identify during the "intros round" when she appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks in December 2009; the series often includes questions from contestants' pasts). During 1984–85, she made regular appearances on the Peter Levy show on Radio Aire, appearing mid-morning to read a story for pre-school children.

In the mid-1980s, Vorderman worked part-time in the Information Services Department of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, principally in the production of in-house video programmes.

Television career



Vorderman's mother noticed an advertisement in The Yorkshire Post asking for "a woman with good mathematical skills" to appear as co-host on a quiz show for the fledgling fourth terrestrial channel. She submitted an application on behalf of her daughter, then aged 21. Vorderman appeared on Countdown from the show's inception in 1982 until 2008.

Initially, Vorderman's only contribution to the show was the numbers game, and she formed part of a five-person presentation team, billed as one of the "vital statisticians" along with Linda Barrett. However, over the following years, the team was pared down, and Vorderman began handling tiles for both the letters and numbers games. Vorderman thus became a new type of game show hostess, revealing her intellectual ability by carrying out fast and accurate arithmetic calculations during the numbers game to reach an exact solution if neither contestant was able to do so. Her lasting success on the show led to her becoming one of the highest-paid women in Britain, ultimately earning her an estimated £1 million per year.

After Richard Whiteley

In June 2005, the producers of Countdown asked Vorderman if she wanted to fill the role of main presenter vacated by the recently deceased Richard Whiteley. Vorderman declined, and a search for a new presenter began while the show went into a four-month hiatus. In October 2005, Des Lynam replaced Whiteley and co-hosted with Vorderman. In January 2007 Des O'Connor replaced Lynam while Vorderman continued to co-host the show.

On 25 July 2008, after 26 unbroken years with the show, it was announced that Vorderman was stepping down from Countdown. She later said she had resigned after failing to agree terms with Channel 4 for a new contract, and it was reported that she had been asked to take a cut of 90% from her previous salary, estimated as £900,000. She had considered leaving the show when the show's original host Richard Whiteley died in 2005, but remained on the show when Lynam took over, and until 2008 when his eventual replacement O'Connor announced he was also to step down as the show's host. Vorderman and O'Connor both left the show in December 2008.

Vorderman recorded her last Countdown show on 13 November 2008 which was broadcast on 12 December 2008. Both of her children were in the audience, together with many of the previous guests from "Dictionary Corner". After the prizegiving at the end of the show, Des O'Connor was presented with a bouquet of flowers by the show's lexicographer Susie Dent, and Vorderman received one from Gyles Brandreth. She was too moved to complete her farewells. A special show, One Last Consonant, Please Carol, hosted by Brandreth and featuring Vorderman's highs and lows during the 26 years of the show, was also filmed and transmitted just before her final Countdown appearance. After leaving Countdown, Vorderman continued to contribute her column to the British magazine Reveal.

Channel 4 admitted in 2009 that all Countdown presenters had always worn earpieces, and that producers would "sometimes supply extra ideas as there are often multiple options to ensure viewers are given the best possible answers." A source close to Vorderman denied that she had worn an earpiece or cheated in her mental arithmetic answers.

Loose Women

In July 2011, Vorderman and Sally Lindsay were tipped for roles on Loose Women following ITV's decision to axe Kate Thornton and Zoë Tyler from the programme. This was later confirmed, with Vorderman presenting her first live show on 5 September 2011. From September 2011 to June 2013, Vorderman and fellow Loose Women host Andrea McLean hosted two to three shows per week. However, after the show returned from its summer break in September 2013, she began to host one episode per week, with McLean anchoring the remaining four. On 3 October 2013, it was announced that former Loose Women presenter Kaye Adams would be returning to the show later in the year and Ruth Langsford would join the panel in January 2014. Adams, Langsford and Andrea McLean hosted the show in rotation, with Vorderman remaining as an occasional presenter on the programme, usually presenting one episode a fortnight.

On 14 July 2014, Vorderman announced her departure as a presenter on Loose Women. Vorderman explained:

I am getting into the hard work for my planning and training to go round the world next year. In the first two years on Loose I did over 100 days a year but in the last year I have only managed just over 20 days because I kept having to cancel days due to other work commitments. I tried appearing just once a week up until Christmas and I just couldn't do it. I write a lot of educational books and have a big maths website so my time is spent with those too. I like to do things properly and it's unfair to commit to something half-heartedly.

Other television work

Vorderman is the presenter of the annual Pride of Britain Awards, which are televised by ITV. She began hosting the awards when they were introduced in 1999.

In 2004, Vorderman took part in the second series of Strictly Come Dancing, partnered with professional dancer Paul Killick. She was the second celebrity to be eliminated from the show. She guest presented Have I Got News for You in 2004 and 2006 and also presented an episode of The Sunday Night Project.

Vorderman guest presented 15 episodes of Lorraine in 2011. She presented the ITV Food show Food Glorious Food in 2013.

In March 2013, Vorderman recorded an ITV gameshow pilot called Revolution. On 29 June 2013, it was announced that the show had been "scrapped" by ITV.

In 2016, Vorderman finished in eighth place in the sixteenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

On 7 April 2020, Vorderman appeared on The Great Stand Up to Cancer Bake Off and won.

Broadcast on S4C on 19 April 2020, Vorderman took part in the show Iaith ar Daith ('Language Road Trip') and, with the help of Owain Wyn Evans, learned Welsh and completed various challenges in the language. An extra episode, Iaith ar Daith 'Dolig ('Language Road Trip: Christmas') was broadcast at the end of 2020, interviewing each of the celebrities about whether they were still making use of their Welsh and the opportunities they had had to use Welsh during lockdown.

In 2023, she appeared in I'm a Celebrity... South Africa.

On June 16, 2023 she appeared as herself in Episode 1 of the BBC One comedy Queen of Oz. Vorderman is seen and heard on her radio programme questioning the outrageous antics of spoiled spare to the British crown, Princess Georgiana, played by Catherine Tate.



Year Title Role Channel
1982–2008 Countdown Vital statistician
Co-presenter (4,832 episodes)
Channel 4
1987–1989 Take Nobody's Word for It Co-presenter BBC One
1990–1996, 1998 How 2 Co-presenter CITV (ITV1)
1993 World Chess Championship Co-presenter Channel 4
1994 Tomorrow's World Co-presenter BBC One
1994 Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe Narrator ITV
1996 Entertainment Today Presenter ITV1
1997 Hot Gadgets Presenter BBC One
1996 Out of this World Presenter
1997 The Antiques Inspectors Presenter
1998 Points of View Presenter
1998 What Will They Think of Next Presenter ITV1
1999 Dream House Main presenter BBC One
1999–2003 Better Homes Presenter ITV1
1999–present Pride of Britain Awards Presenter
2000 Star Lives Presenter
2001–2002 Britain's Brainiest Kid Presenter
2004 Strictly Come Dancing Contestant BBC One
2004, 2006 Have I Got News for You Guest presenter
2005–2006 Carol's Big Brain Game Co-presenter Sky One
2006 The Sunday Night Project Guest presenter Channel 4
2008 One Last Consonant, Please Carol Subject
2011, 2018–2019, 2022 Lorraine Guest presenter (26 episodes) ITV1
2011–2014 Loose Women Presenter
2013 Food Glorious Food Presenter
2016 I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Participant
2020 Iaith ar Daith Participant S4C
Michael McIntyre's The Wheel Participant BBC One
2021 Carol Vorderman: Closer to Home Presenter BBC One Wales
Great British Menu Guest judge; Series 16 – The Finals: Main Course BBC Two
Pride of Britain Awards Co-host ITV1
2022 Michael McIntyre's The Wheel Celebrity expert BBC One
Beat the Chasers Contestant ITV1
2022–present This Morning News Reviewer (2022–present) ITV1
2023 Taskmaster’s New Year Treat Contestant Channel 4
I'm a Celebrity... South Africa Contestant ITV1
Queen of Oz Herself BBC One
RuPaul's Drag Race UK Herself; Guest judge (Series 5) BBC Three
Steph's Packed Lunch Herself; Guest host (one episode) Channel 4

Other work


Vorderman has had newspaper columns in The Daily Telegraph, and in the Daily Mirror on Internet topics. She has written books on Detox diets. Her No. 1 bestseller was Detox For Life, produced in collaboration with Ko Chohan and Anita Bean and published by Virgin Books, which sold over a million copies.

Many school textbooks have been published under her name, chiefly by Dorling Kindersley in series such as English Made Easy, Maths Made Easy, Science Made Easy and How To Pass National Curriculum Maths.

Commercial ventures

Vorderman also expanded her business ventures, launching a number of Sudoku products. In March 2007, she launched a brain-training game called Carol Vorderman's Mind Aerobics together with BSkyB. Also in 2007, she released a video game for PlayStation 2 in the United States entitled Carol Vorderman's Sudoku.

In 2007, Vorderman did TV commercials for the frozen food chain Farmfoods – advertising "Chippy Chips for £1" and "Cadbury's Cones for 99p".

In the autumn of 2008, soon after she completed her final regular Countdown show, Vorderman announced a new commercial venture, her own property development and sales company that would specialise in overseas holiday and retirement homes in the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Spain. It was called Carol Vorderman's Overseas Homes Ltd. She saw the company as a natural extension of her own experiences in buying and selling properties over recent years and was aiming at a target market of "families aged 35 plus". However, because of the financial crisis of 2007–2008, the venture proved short-lived. During March 2009 Vorderman publicly withdrew her name from the firm, which suspended trading soon afterwards.

On 2 March 2010, Vorderman publicly launched her new commercial venture of an online mathematics coaching system for 4- to 12-year-old children under the name of the MathsFactor.

Other activities

Air Marshall Julian Young with Dawn McCafferty and Carol Vorderman (Vorderman cropped)
Honorary Group Captain Carol Vorderman

On 18 September 2010, Vorderman, a Catholic, co-presented events leading up to the Papal Vigil in Hyde Park, alongside author Frank Cottrell Boyce.

On 2 June 2012, Vorderman named a Class 91 (91110) "Battle of Britain Memorial Flight" at the National Railway Museum as part of the Railfest 2012 Event.

In 2014, Vorderman qualified for a private pilot's licence and announced that she planned to fly solo around the world. She named her plane Mildred after Mildred, Mrs Victor Bruce, a British record-breaking racing motorist, speedboat racer and aviator in the 1920s and 1930s, who Vorderman has described as "my heroine. She's one of the most incredible women of the last century".

On 20 November 2014, Vorderman accepted the appointment of ambassador to the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, holding the rank of Honorary Group Captain.

Vorderman has also taken up learning the Welsh language and has been using the Say Something in Welsh online course. In early 2020, she said "I've been learning Welsh ... and I love it. It's taken me back to my roots".

Personal life

Vorderman is a Catholic. She was first married in 1985 at age 24 to Christopher Mather, a Royal Navy officer, but the marriage lasted only twelve months. Her second marriage was to management consultant Patrick King in 1990 at the age of 30.Vorderman had two children, Katie (b. 1992) and Cameron (b. 1997), with King; the couple separated in 2000.

After meeting at a Christmas party in 1999, Vorderman and Des Kelly lived together in London from 2001, also using their other house in Glandore, West Cork, Ireland. After five years together, Vorderman and Kelly separated in December 2006, publicly announcing the amicable split in January 2007, and after a brief reconciliation in Bristol, according to reports.

As of 2014, Vorderman shares her Bristol home with her two children. Vorderman lived with or very near to her mother all her life, until her mother's death in 2017. On 6 June 2020, she complained in a number of UK newspapers of being harassed by photographers in the road outside her home.

Vorderman in 2022 declared a lack of interest in traditional monogamy, preferring to have "special friends" with benefits.

Political views

In 2009, she mocked the Labour Party's education policies, as part of her work heading a task force established by the Conservative Party to look at the teaching of mathematics. David Cameron commented, "Carol has got a passion for maths. We have all seen that on Countdown with her brilliant mental arithmetic and she is going to lead this task force so we can get the answers right."

In an appearance on Question Time in March 2010, Vorderman was critical of all three major parties for hypocrisy in taking donations from non-domiciled taxpayers.

In the early 2020s Vorderman was regularly critical of the Conservative administration, labelling it a "despicable government", and described herself as being politically independent.

In 2022 Vorderman was praised by The Herald as the "real leader of the opposition" after criticising members of the government for exploiting their positions for personal gain.

In November 2023 the BBC objected to Vorderman's social media postings reflecting her personal opinions; she said that she would "not be silenced" by the BBC's new social media guidelines, and resigned from her weekly BBC Radio Wales show. She immediately made several posts criticising several people and policies of the Conservative government in power at the time.

Honours and awards

Vorderman was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for "services to broadcasting" in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2000. She was elected an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University in North Wales and, in 2000, received an Honorary MA from the University of Bath.

Vorderman was voted UK Female Rear of the Year in 2011. In 2014, she became the first celebrity to win the award twice.

In 2014, she was named an Honorary Group Captain (RAFAC) and Ambassador to the Air Cadets.

In November 2021, she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Institution of Engineering and Technology in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the engineering profession.

Charity work

Carol Vorderman Waddington Airshow 2011 - 2
Vorderman presenting an RAF Association show in July 2011

Vorderman is a patron of the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) (her older brother, Anton, was born with a cleft lip and palate). In 2005, she was the winner of Ant and Dec's Gameshow Marathon. As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations ITV ran a series of the nation's favourite game shows featuring celebrities competing to become Gameshow Marathon winner and raise money for the charity of their choice. As series winner Vorderman won £60,000 for CLAPA.

In November 2011 she appeared in the music video in aid of CLAPA for New Vorder's Carol O Carol, a song written by Jim Salveson in 1999 about his love for Vorderman, and directed by Tim Cocker.

Vorderman appeared in a short film, Run for the future, promoting prostate cancer awareness, and took part in a charity run held every year on the Bristol Downs to raise funds for the BUI prostate appeal. She also took part in the Great North Run on several occasions, to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care in memory of Richard Whiteley's sister Helen, who died of cancer.

Vorderman is an active supporter and advocate of the RAF Association charity, appearing at airshows and taking part in other fundraising events.

Videos and published writings

  • Carol Vorderman's Pop Music Times Tables, 1990
  • Carol Vorderman's How to Write a Perfect Letter, 1991
  • How Mathematics Works, 1996
  • Carol Vorderman's Guide to the Internet (written with Rob Young), 1998
  • Carol Vorderman's How to Do Sudoku, 2005
  • Carol Vorderman's Massive Book of Sudoku, 2005
  • Eat Yourself Clever, 2008
  • Carol Vorderman's Guide to Maths
  • Carol Vorderman's Detox Diet
  • It All Counts, 2010

See also

  • List of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! (British TV series) contestants
  • List of Strictly Come Dancing contestants
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