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Rachel Riley's mum's excitement at Strictly outing
10:00am Wednesday 11th September 2013 in News
COUNTDOWN TV presenter Rachel Riley is gearing up for a spell in the Saturday night prime-time spotlight on Strictly Come Dancing – and her mum says she’s is just as nervous as her famous daughter.
Celia Riley, from Southend, spoke to the Echo about her excitement and nerves as Rachel prepares to take to the dance floor for the hit BBC1 show.
On Saturday, Countdown and Gadget Show presenter Rachel was paired with professional dancer Pasha Kovalev, who Mrs Riley described as “delightful”.
She said: “My husband and I are so proud of her.
“We’re thrilled to bits. She was pleased to be with Pasha and he is delightful.
“It will be really nerve-wracking when she’s standing under that spotlight, waiting to hear whether she’s got through to the next week. I think I’ll be most nervous then.
“She is so excited, but also nervous. With 9 million people watching, anyone would be nervous. She’s out of her comfort zone.”
Mrs Riley, who works as fundraising manager for Rochford-based dementia charity, Peaceful Place, has long been an avid fan of the show and last year went to see the Strictly tour.
She confessed she hadn’t realised straight away when Rachel, a former Southend High School for Girls pupil, hinted she might be a contestant this time.
Mrs Riley said: “She knows I love Strictly, and she came home one day and said, ‘Which show would you like tickets for mum?’ Then she smiled at me.
“I didn’t twig at all, and it was only when my husband said, ‘Look at the gleam in her eyes’ I realised she meant she’d be on the show.
“She did want to keep it a complete surprise for me, but she knew I’d end up hearing about it eventually.
“The training is going to be very intensive, and she’s still filming Countdown and the Gadget Show, so she’ll have an extremely gruelling schedule.”
Rachel, also a longtime fan of the show, even celebrated her 21st birthday with a Strictly themed party.
And for her first dance at her wedding to Jamie Gilbert last year, she rehearsed with Izabela Dance, one of the series’ previous professional dancers.
Her mum added: “She’s got no dancing experience, apart from a one-hour lesson before her wedding to prepare for her first dance.
“She’ll need to up the amount she eats to keep her energy levels high.
“I’m glad she’s got youth on her side. I think they should have a mothers’ version of Strictly, so all the mums of the contestants could have a go, too.
“She’s a very determined young lady. She’ll work very hard and I’m sure she’ll go far, though it’s down for the public and the judges to decide.
“We’re hoping everyone in Essex will vote for her. She’s a huge cat lover, so if everyone with cats votes for her, she’ll be fine.”
The 27-year-old presenter and the show’s other celebrity contestants, including singe Sophie Ellis-Bextor and radio host Vanessa Feltz face three weeks of training before the new series starts.
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