Carol Jean Vorderman MBE
(born 24 December 1960), is a British television
personality best known for being a long-standing co-presenter of Channel 4 game show Countdown
Early family 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 siblings grew up in a lone parent household. Their mother remarried in 1970 to an Italian
national. Vorderman attended the Roman Catholic
comprehensive Blessed Edward Jones High School
She refused to meet or have contact with her estranged father until January 2002, when (according to the Daily Mail) she relented and the two were reconciled. She 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 had been an active member of the Dutch resistance during the Nazi occupation. He died whilst the programme was being filmed. Her great-grandfather Adolphe Vorderman played a key role in the discovery of vitamins.
In 1978, she was accepted by Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
to read Engineering. She was a member of the "Nines Club
" at Cambridge
, so named because members achieve a third
in each of their three years of study (3+3+3=9). Her Countdown
co-star Richard Whiteley
coincidentally achieved the same class of degree at the same university.
After graduation, her mother's second marriage had broken down, and the family were back in financial difficulties. 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
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. 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.
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.
On 25 July 2008, after 26 unbroken years with the show it was announced 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 some 90 per cent of her previous salary, estimated as £900,000. She had considered leaving the show when the original show's host Richard Whiteley died in 2005, but remained on the show when Des Lynham took over and until 2008 when his eventual replacement Des O'Connor announced he was also to step down as the show's host. Vorderman later said that she had "put on a stone from the stress of being "sacked" sic from Countdown".
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.
Vorderman has had newspaper
columns in The Daily Telegraph
, and in the Daily Mirror
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 self-described 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".
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.
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
Vorderman was first married in 1985 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. 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, but are now back together in Bristol according to reports.
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 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.
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