Pasha Kovalev and Rachel Riley

Inside Rachel Riley’s colourful love life – from Strictly ‘curse’ and ‘distance’ with first husband to marriage struggles with Pasha Kovalev

Rachel and Pasha met on Strictly

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Rachel Riley, who is on Celebrity Antiques Road Trip this weekend (April 13) has found her love life making headlines over the years, especially after competing on Strictly Come Dancing.

Here’s everything we know about the Countdown star’s private life…

Rachel Riley
Rachel was briefly married to her uni sweetheart (Credit: ITV)

Rachel Riley love life: ‘Emotional distance’ from first husband

From the age of 19, Rachel – now 38 – was with her partner Jamie Gilbert.

The former couple met while they were both studying at Oxford University.

They tied the knot in 2012. However, their marriage didn’t last long, thanks in part to Rachel’s involvement in Strictly in 2013.

In November 2013, it was announced that Rachel and Jamie were divorcing.

“At that time, I was doing Countdown and The Gadget Show, so I was living in Essex, I was filming in Birmingham and in Salford, and then filming Strictly in Borehamwood, with a bit of It Takes Two in London. I was getting three hours’ sleep a night, trying to fit in all these things,” she told British GQ in 2019.

Pasha and Rachel Riley
Rachel and Pasha met on Strictly (Credit: BBC)

The ‘Strictly curse’ strikes?

However, in the same interview, Rachel denied claims that the Strictly curse had brought an end to her marriage to Jamie.

“No. I’m still friends with my ex-husband. He’s great, he’s a brilliant guy. We were together since I was 19 and it wasn’t right… What Strictly did give me was distance – because I was away from home in Birmingham, Salford, Borehamwood,” she said.

“It was the emotional distance I needed to break away.” However, she later admitted that the show is a “magnifying glass that shows up pre-existing fault lines”.

Shortly after the 2013 series of Strictly concluded, it was revealed that Rachel and her dance partner, Pasha Kovalev, were dating.

In 2017, Rachel told the Daily Express she didn’t feel the need to marry Pasha, saying she’s in “love” now. “I don’t feel I have to get married. I don’t think I need that pressure anymore,” she said.

She then continued, saying: “I have got a good relationship. I don’t worry about getting married or whether he is taking a long time in the morning or whether he has done the dishes. That does not really bother me in the long term. I feel settled.”

Marriage to Pasha

However, two years later in 2019, Pasha and Rachel tied the knot in secret in Las Vegas. Rachel announced the news on her Instagram, writing: “Introducing the new Mr. and Mrs. Kovalev.”

Later that year, Rachel and Pasha welcomed their first child together, a daughter called Maven. In 2021, they welcomed another daughter, Noa.

“We have been really lucky, touch wood, and we’re very excited. They’re great, we weren’t sure if we wanted them before and we’re just both in love, it’s lovely,” Rachel told the MailOnline at the time.

Rachel Riley on marriage struggles with Pasha

Speaking to The Sun in 2023, Rachel admitted that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows with her marriage to Pasha. She confessed that they can struggle to spend time together thanks to their busy schedules, as well as the fact that they’re parents to two young children.

“When you first get together, if they’re away for three months and you’ve only been together a month, it’s a big deal,” she said.

“But when you’ve been together the best part of a decade and you can see a future of how ever many more decades that you get together, it kind of changes your perspective. It’s nice to have date nights especially as we can be ships that pass in the night, especially when you have kids as well,” she admitted.

“It’s been busy, it’s been different, but everything is always in flux. It would be nice, once I’m not feeding the baby and picking her up, maybe we could even have a night together but that feels like a million miles away at the moment.”

Pasha and Rachel will be celebrating five years of marriage this year.

Read more: Rachel Riley explains why she and Pasha Kovalev won’t have more kids amidst ‘marriage struggles’ reports

Celebrity Antiques Road Trip is on Saturday (April 13) at 8pm on BBC Two.

Rachel Riley & Pasha Kovalev Share How They Met & Why Riley Never Expected To Fall For Him | LW

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Robert Emlyn Slater
Senior Writer