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Carol Vorderman MBE
Born 24 December 1960 (1960-12-24) (age 49)
Bedford, England
Nationality British
Occupation Television Presenter
Spouse(s) Chris Mather 1985-1986 (divorced)
Patrick King 1990-2000 (divorced)
Children Katherine (Katie) King
Cameron King
Parents Tony Vorderman (deceased)
Edwina J. Davies

Carol Jean Vorderman MBE (born 24 December 1960) is an English media personality, best known for co-hosting the popular game show Countdown (1982 - 2008).


Early life

Vorderman was born in Bedford to a Dutch father and Welsh mother. Her parents broke up three weeks after her birth, and her mother took the family back to her home town of Prestatyn, North Wales, where Vorderman and her siblings grew up in a lone parent household.[1][2] Their mother remarried in 1970 to an Italian national.[3]


Vorderman was educated at the Roman Catholic comprehensive Blessed Edward Jones High School in Rhyl, followed by Sidney Sussex College at the University of Cambridge in 1978, where she studied Engineering. She obtained a Third in all three years of her degree.

Dutch ancestry

Vorderman did not trace the Dutch side of her family until 2007 (as part of the BBC genealogical programme Who Do You Think You Are?). It was only at this point that she discovered that her father Anton had been an active member of the Dutch resistance during the Nazi occupation. He died whilst the programme was being filmed.[4] Her great-grandfather Adolphe Vorderman played a key role in the discovery of vitamins..


Vorderman initially found employment as a graduate management trainee in Leeds, and in her spare time was briefly a backing singer in the Leeds-based pop group Dawn Chorus and the Blue Tits, fronted by radio DJ Liz Kershaw during the early 1980s. They recorded songs such as a version of The Undertones' hit Teenage Kicks (coincidentally, one of the tracks Vorderman had to identify during the "intros round" when she appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks in December 2009). During 1984/85 she made regular appearances on the Peter Levy show on Radio Aire, appearing mid-morning to read a story for any pre-school children who might be listening with their mothers.


1982 - June 2005

Vorderman's mother noticed a newspaper advertisement asking for a woman with good mathematical skills to appear as co-host on a quiz show for the fledgling fourth terrestrial channel and submitted an application on behalf of her daughter.[5] Thus, at the age of 21, Vorderman made her name on Countdown with Richard Whiteley from the show's inception in 1982 until Whiteley's death in June 2005. Initially Vorderman's only contribution to the show was the numbers game and she formed part of a five person presentation team. However, over the coming years the team was pared down and Vorderman's contribution increased. In latter years she was a joint main presenter, co-host and face of the show. Simon Nicol's musical album Consonant Please Carol (1992) takes its title from the customary dialogue in a show.

After Richard Whiteley

In October 2005, Desmond Lynam replaced Whiteley and co-hosted with Vorderman. In January 2007 Des O'Connor replaced Lynam and Vorderman continued to co-host the show. Vorderman was a new type of game show hostess, revealing her intellectual ability by carrying out fast and accurate arithmetical calculations as part of the game. Her lasting success on the show led to her becoming one of the highest-paid women in Britain, earning £1 million per year, from all sources.[6]

On 25 July 2008, after her 26 unbroken years with the show it was announced that Vorderman was stepping down from Countdown.[7] 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 some 90 per cent of her previous salary, estimated as £900,000.[8] She had considered leaving the show when the original show's 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.[9] Vorderman later said that she had "put on a stone from the stress of being 'sacked' from Countdown".[8] Vorderman and O'Connor both left the show in December 2008.

Final period

The producers auditioned young and currently unknown mathematicians to replace Vorderman and several well known celebrity presenters to replace O'Connor, and on 21 November 2008 it was announced that these would be 22-year-old Oxford graduate Rachel Riley and Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling.[10]

Vorderman recorded her last Countdown show on 13 November 2008 and it was broadcast on 12 December. Both of her children were in the audience together with many of the previous guests from Dictionary Corner. After the prize giving at the end of that 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 Giles Brandreth and featuring Vorderman's highs and lows during 26 years of the show, was also filmed and transmitted just before her final Countdown appearance.[11]

Other TV appearances

Between 1987 and 1989 she co-hosted the BBC TV series Take Nobody's Word For It with Professor Ian Fells, and was chosen to compère the world chess championship match between Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short in 1993. Vorderman has worked as a researcher and producer on many shows, specialising in science and educational programmes, and went on to present several other television programmes including the BBC's Tomorrow's World, but was dropped after she starred in a commercial for Ariel washing powder. BBC management claimed it was a conflict of interest and dismissed her from the show. Carol refused to submit to their demand citing numerous other BBC 'stars' who were allowed to advertise products at that time, including Gary Rhodes the BBC chef advertising Tate and Lyle sugar. Weeks later, the ratings had dropped dramatically and the BBC asked her to return to anchor the programme but she refused.

In 1999, having been offered a lucrative contract, Vorderman moved to ITV, going on to compère numerous television programmes including: The Pride of Britain Awards since year 2000, Stars and their Lives, What Will They Think of Next, Tested to Destruction, How 2 on CITV and the popular Better Homes, which began in 1999 and spawned a spin-off Better Gardens.

Vorderman was a newspaper reviewer on the last episode of Breakfast with Frost. In 2004 Vorderman appeared on the second series of Strictly Come Dancing and was voted off the show on the second show of the series. In 2005, Vorderman beat off the other celebrities in ITV's Gameshow Marathon, winning the series. Vorderman appeared as a guest on Have I Got News For You on 14 May 2004 and hosted the show on 26 May 2006. She presented the Channel 4 entertainment show The Friday Night Project on 11 August 2006.

Between 2005 and 2006 she presented Sky One's quiz show Carol Vorderman's Big Brain Game over two series that have since been repeated twice on the channel during 2007.[12]


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. She is also a sudoku addict since April 2005 when she wrestled a book of the puzzles from her 12-year-old daughter Katie during a holiday in the Caribbean. Vorderman has written numerous books of sudoku puzzles with help on how to tackle them. She has sold millions of sudoku books worldwide, with almost one million being sold in less than a year in the UK alone.

A large number of 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.

After leaving "Countdown" she will continue contributing to her column in the British magazine "Reveal".

Endorsement controversy

Vorderman has maintained a long-standing endorsement of the debt consolidation company First Plus. In 2006, the charity Credit Action tried to highlight the potential dangers of debt consolidation, calling on Vorderman to stop giving First Plus credibility. Her agent responded that Vorderman had no intention of curtailing the contract for a service which was perfectly legal, offered by an excellent company.[7] When quizzed by The Telegraph in November 2008 Vorderman herself responded crisply with:

"The secured loans market was criticised and it was pertinent to pick me out, because I was a face. I advertised FirstPlus for 10 years. We had something like £1.5billion out on loan and until a matter of months ago there were no repossessions. When that programme [BBC's Real Story] was made, [there were] no repossessions. Did they say that? Funnily enough, no." [13]

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 the autumn of 2008, soon after she completed her final regular Countdown show, Vorderman announced a new commercial venture in her own property development and sales company that would specialise in overseas holiday and retirement homes within the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Spain. 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".[14] However, due to the international financial downturn the venture proved short-lived and during March 2009 Vorderman publicly withdrew her name from the firm, which suspended trading soon after.[15]

Personal life

Vorderman was first married in 1985[16] at age 24 to Chris Mather, a Royal Navy officer and former rugby league international player, but the marriage only lasted twelve months. Vorderman's second marriage was to management consultant Patrick King in 1990 at age 29.[17] Vorderman had two children, Katie and Cameron, with King but they separated in 2000.

After meeting at a Christmas party in 1999, Vorderman and Daily Mail columnist and PR consultant 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,[18] but are now back together in Bristol according to reports.[19][20]

Vorderman was honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in June 2000 for "services to broadcasting" in the Birthday Honours List. Vorderman is an honorary Fellow of Bangor University in North Wales.

Charity work

Vorderman is the 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 Carol won £60,000 for CLAPA.

Carol appeared in a short film promoting 'Run for the future' which promotes Prostate Cancer awareness and a charity run held every year on the Bristol Downs to raise funds for the BUI prostate appeal.

She has taken part in the Great North Run on several occasions to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. This was in memory of Richard Whiteley's sister Helen, who died of cancer in her 40s.

Videos and published writings

  • How Mathematics Works, 1996
  • Carol Vorderman's Guide to the Internet (written with Rob Young), 1998
  • Carol Vorderman's Guide to Maths
  • Carol Vorderman's Pop Music Times Tables, 1991
  • Carol Vorderman's Detox Diet
  • Carol Vorderman's How To Do Sudoku, 2005
  • Carol Vorderman's Massive Book Of Sudoku, 2005
  • Eat Yourself Clever, 2008
Preceded by
Co-Host of Countdown
Succeeded by
Rachel Riley


  1. ^ BBC TV
  2. ^ "Daily Mail interview".  
  3. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: SEP 1970 8a 1666 ST ASAPH - Armido G. Rizzi = Edwina J. Vorderman
  4. ^ BBC TV: Who Do You Think You Are? - broadcast 27 Sep 2007
  5. ^ "Success by Numbers (in: Scotland on Sunday - Opinion)".  
  6. ^ "Richest women in showbiz". Daily Mail - 5 March 2004.  
  7. ^ a b Zoe Williams (30 July 2008). "Your number is up, Carol". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-07-30.  
  8. ^ a b Carol Vorderman: 'I put on a STONE from the stress of being sacked from Countdown' by Liz Thomas in the Daily Mail, 23 September 2008
  9. ^ BBC Entertainment Carol Vorderman quits Countdown 25 July 2008
  10. ^ Oxford graduate, 22, replaces Carol Vorderman as new look Countdown team is unveiled
  11. ^ Filming final Countdown
  12. ^ [1] Sky One Game show
  13. ^ Vorderman's response re Firstplus controversy
  14. ^ Properties Company
  15. ^ Vorderman quits property firm
  16. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: DEC 1985 5 613 LEEDS - Christopher Mather = Carol J Voderman [sic.]
  17. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: MAY 1990 20 1160 RINGWOOD and FORDINGBRIDGE - Patrick J. King = Carol J Vorderman
  18. ^ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Vorderman splits from her partner
  19. ^ Showbiz - News - Carol Vorderman reunites with ex - Digital Spy
  20. ^ Moving on - Carol Vorderman - Times Online

External links

Simple English

Carol Jean Vorderman (born December 24, 1960[1]) is an English television presenter. She is best known for picking the letters and numbers for Channel 4 game show Countdown.



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