Carol Vorderman in July 2011
|Born||Carol Jean Vorderman
(1960-12-24) 24 December 1960
Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
|Years active||1982–2015 (semi-retired)|
Pride of Britain Awards (1999—)
Loose Women (2011–14)
Food Glorious Food (2013)
|Parent(s)||Tony Vorderman (1920–2007; deceased)
Edwina J. Davies (b. 1928)
Vorderman’s career began in 1982 when she joined Channel 4 game show Countdown. She appeared on the show most recently with Des O’Connor, and previously with Des Lynam and before that Richard Whiteley (from 1982 until his death in 2005). Vorderman left the show in 2008. Whilst appearing on Countdown, Vorderman began presenting other shows for various broadcasters including Better Homes and The Pride of Britain Awards for ITV, as well as guest hosting shows such as Have I Got News for You, The Sunday Night Project and Lorraine.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early career
- 3 Television career
- 4 Outside television
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Honours and awards
- 7 Political views
- 8 Charity work
- 9 Videos and published writings
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Early life and education
Vorderman was born in Bedford, Bedfordshire, the youngest of three children to Dutch father Anton ‘Tony’ Vorderman (1920–2007) and Welsh mother Edwina Jean (née Davies, born 1928). Her parents separated 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, Anton and Trixie, grew up in a one-parent household. Vorderman did not see her father again until she was 42. In 1970, her mother married Italian immigrant Armido Rizzi. The couple separated ten years later. Vorderman’s father remarried; his wife died in the early 1990s.
Vorderman was educated at the Roman Catholic comprehensive Blessed Edward Jones High School in Rhyl. In 1978, when she was 17, she matriculated at the University of Cambridge, where she studied engineering at Sidney Sussex College; she earned a Third class in all three years of her education at Cambridge, and thus became a member of the “Nines Club”, and graduated with a third-class honours degree.
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.
Vorderman initially found employment as a junior civil engineer at Dinorwig Power Station in 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 such songs as 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 involved in the production of in-house video programmes.
1982 – 2008
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, then aged 21. Vorderman appeared on Countdown from the show’s inception until 2008. 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 following years, the team was pared down, and Vorderman’s contribution increased. Vorderman thus became a new type of game show hostess, revealing her intellectual ability by carrying out fast and accurate arithmetical calculations during the show. 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; 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 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 contributing her column to the British magazine Reveal.
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 Pride of Britain Awards when they were first introduced in 1999. Vorderman took part in the second series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004. 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.
|1987–1989||Take Nobody’s Word For it||Co-presenter|
|1993||World Chess Championship||Co-presenter|
|1999||Dream House||Main presenter|
|1999—||Pride of Britain Awards||Presenter|
|2001–2002||Britain’s Brainiest Kid||Presenter|
|2004||Strictly Come Dancing||Contestant|
|2004, 2006||Have I Got News for You||Guest presenter|
|2005–2006||Carol’s Big Brain Game||Co-presenter|
|2006||The Sunday Night Project||Guest presenter|
|2008||One Last Consonant, Please Carol||Subject|
|2013||Food Glorious Food||Presenter|
|2016||I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!||Participant|
- Guest appearances
- Through the Keyhole (14 April 1989, 4 October 2014)
- Celebrity Fifteen to One (27 December 1990)
- Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes (2 December 1998)
- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (May 2000)
- Top Gear (28 December 2003)
- Ant & Dec’s Gameshow Marathon (2005)
- Who Do You Think You Are? (27 September 2007)
- The Big Fat Anniversary Quiz (2 November 2007)
- Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong (7 November 2008)
- 8 Out of 10 Cats (27 November 2008, 12 February 2010, 15 October 2010, 12 November 2012, 29 March 2013, 11 October 2013, 1 April 2014)
- The Apprentice: You’re Fired! (25 March 2009, November 2010)
- Chris Moyles’ Quiz Night (3 May 2009)
- Would I Lie to You? (10 August 2009, 10 October 2014)
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks (9 December 2009, 11 November 2013)
- Question Time (4 March 2010)
- The Michael Ball Show (22 September 2010)
- Ask Rhod Gilbert (11 October 2010)
- Let’s Do Lunch with Gino & Mel (1 September 2011)
- The Chase: Celebrity Special (19 November 2011)
- Odd One In: Christmas Special (18 December 2011)
- All Star Family Fortunes (11 February 2012)
- Room 101 (24 February 2012)
- Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (27 April 2012)
- Red or Black? (18 August 2012)
- The Big Fat Quiz of the 80s (16 September 2012)
- Gadget Man (26 November 2012)
- The Jonathan Ross Show (2 March 2013)
- Celebrity Juice (19 September 2013)
- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (19 December 2013)
- Celebrity Catchphrase: Christmas Special (29 December 2013)
- W1A (19 & 26 March 2014)
- Duck Quacks Don’t Echo (21 March 2014, 2017)
- The Guess List (26 April 2014)
- Tipping Point: Lucky Stars (5 July 2014)
- Celebrity Squares (17 September 2014)
- Lip Sync Battle UK (5 February 2016)
- The Saturday Show (27 February 2016)
- Tonight at the London Palladium (20 April 2016)
- It’s Not Me, It’s You (19 August 2016)
- The Grand Tour (17 November 2016)
- Michael McIntyre’s Big Show (3 December 2016)
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.
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, 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”. However, because of 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.
On 2 March 2010 Vorderman publicly launched her new commercial venture of an online mathematics coaching system for 4 – 12-year-old children under the name of the MathsFactor.
Vorderman had maintained a long-standing endorsement of the debt consolidation company First Plus, an association that ceased in 2007. In 2006 the charity Credit Action attempted 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 and offered by an excellent company. When interviewed by The Daily Telegraph in November 2008 Vorderman herself responded 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.”
On 20 November 2014 Vorderman accepted the appointment of ambassador to the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, saying: “I am truly honoured to be appointed as an ambassador for the RAF Air Cadets. I can’t wait to meet the cadets, and the adult volunteer staff who give so much of their time to support them. The cadets themselves are a shining example of the best of British youngsters, standing with them on a parade square will be a great privilege.”
Vorderman assumed the rank of Honorary Group Captain RAFVR(T) for the duration of her appointment. She is the first female to be appointed Ambassador in the Royal Air Force Air Cadets‘ 75 year history after taking over from former ambassador Group Captain Sir Chris Hoy MBE RAFVR(T) Retd.
Vorderman is a Catholic. She was first married in 1985 at age 24 to Christopher Mather, a Royal Navy officer and former international rugby league player, but the marriage lasted only twelve months. Her second marriage was to management consultant Patrick King in 1990 at age 29. 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 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 and after a brief reconciliation in Bristol according to reports.
Vorderman shares her Bristol home with her two children and her mother is only a 2 minute walk away. Vorderman has commented that her family has endless coming and goings and much laughter and noise. Vorderman has lived with her mother all her life. Her brother lives in The Hague.
Honours and awards
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 been elected as an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University in North Wales and, in 2000, received an Honorary Degree (MA) from the University of Bath.
Vorderman has been critical of the Labour Party‘s education policies. In February 2009, it was announced that she was to head 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.”
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 Carol also appeared in the music video for New Vorder’s ‘Carol O Carol’ (playing herself) a song written by Jim Salveson in 1999 about his love for Carol Vorderman. The video is directed by Tim Cocker and was released on 28 November 2011 in aid of the charity CLAPA.
Vorderman appeared in a short film entitled ‘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 also 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 the disease.
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