Rachel Riley

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Person.png Rachel Riley   TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(game-show presenter)
Rachel Riley.jpg
Born11 January 1986

Rachel Riley (born 11 January 1986) is an English television presenter who co-presents the Channel 4 daytime puzzle show Countdown and its comedy spin-off 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. A mathematics graduate, her television debut came when she joined Countdown aged 22.

With an interest in popularising mathematics and the sciences, she has since co-presented The Gadget Show on Channel 5 (2013–14) and It's Not Rocket Science on ITV (2016). She was also a contestant on the BBC celebrity dance show Strictly Come Dancing in 2013, and later married her professional dance partner, Pasha Kovalev.[1]


Entering the fray

On 12 January 2019, Shaun Lawson wrote:

Until recent weeks, Rachel Riley’s only claim to fame was as a fairly well-known TV celebrity: most notably, on Countdown. She’s also a Manchester United fan… from Essex. Her and thousands of others.
Suddenly, on 8 December 2018, Riley tweeted about antisemitic abuse she had received. I, like so many others, was horrified, disgusted, and reached out to her. She responded; but showed no sign of having read the article I sent her about my grandmother. Which of course was entirely her prerogative: but the pattern with Riley ever since has been total, absolute refusal to engage with any alternative viewpoints.
I’d already been rather taken aback at her publicly praising Sussex Friends of Israel. As the two videos below illustrate, this is an organisation whose members publicly harass and abuse peaceful pro-Palestinian protestors, and even issue death threats.
This information was easily accessible. What in the world was a well-known public figure doing endorsing such a group? I referred her to the videos; there was no response.
Next up for Riley: Lord Alan Sugar. The businessman took to the ITV studios to publicly proclaim he would leave the UK if Corbyn became Prime Minister. To which the response, entirely naturally, was a combination of amusement, ridicule, and the rather obvious assumption that someone as wealthy as he is doesn’t want to pay more tax.
Preposterously, Riley saw it as something entirely different. Sugar is Jewish: so the scorn he’d attracted was, in her view, all part of the same thing.
The huge irony here is that in focusing on Sugar’s Jewishness, rather than his words, Riley herself was arguably being antisemitic. He is an extremely well-known public figure. Hardly anyone even knows that he’s Jewish, let alone cares about it.[2]

Smearing The Canary

According to The Canary:

Rachel Riley does the numbers on Countdown. But she’s also appointed herself witchfinder general in a campaign to silence critics of Apartheid Israel with false accusations of antisemitism. (Full disclosure: she has dedicated a lot of that time smearing The Canary.) This is why we were somewhat shocked to find her promoting the views of an alleged antisemite.[3] Why? Because he happened to heckle Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.[4]

Untenable position

Remove Rachel Riley from Countdown

In November 2019, a petition linked to Endemolshine UK (producers of Countdown) and Alex Mahon, the CEO of Channel 4, called for Rachel Riley to be removed from the Countdown programme:

Rachel Riley has persisted with an unfounded campaign based on lies and misinformation to tarnish the reputation of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. This has culminated in the grotesque rehashing of a famous image of Mr Corbyn protesting against anti-aparthied South Africa to one claiming that a lifelong anti-racist was indeed a racist! To weaponise the fight against racism in such a manner is abhorrent and clearly counter intuitive.
Freedom of speech is right to be protected and that does mean the right to offend. However to use that right to smear another with unfounded claims and to reduce the anti-aparthied image in such a manner is a clear abuse especially from one with such a public profile.
Had this been a single lapse in judgement an apology would possibly have been an adequate response. However the persistent and unhealthy campaign based on clearly unsubstantiated claims means that Mrs Riley's position working for your organisation is now untenable.[5]


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