Countdown and former Strictly star Rachel Riley opens up about home life with husband Pasha Kovalev and being mum to baby girl Maven – exclusive
When we catch up with Countdown star Rachel Riley over Zoom, she’s drinking a cup of much-needed coffee after a tough night’s sleep with baby Maven.
The former Strictly Come Dancing contestant, who is married to professional dancer Pasha Kovalev, is in good spirits though and tells us that her 14-month-old daughter normally sleeps very well. “They go through phases, don’t they?” she says.
Little Maven sounds like the most adorable toddler! Rachel says that while her daughter hasn’t been able to socialise with other children during lockdown, she is a happy girl who loves dancing, just like her dad. She’s also fond of eating the makeup brushes backstage at Countdown, reveals Rachel.
Here, Rachel, who was speaking to us in collaboration with Always, talks exclusively to HELLO! about home life with Pasha and Maven…
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WATCH: Baby Maven is adorable with dad Pasha
Hi Rachel, how’s baby Maven?
“She’s very happy. She loves dancing. She’s done her first couple of tantrums last week, which at 14 months I’m like ok…it’s kind of funny.
“She loves going to feed the birds. Yesterday we were taking her out and I was getting her dressed and one whole mitten was full of duck food. She gets the duck food out and she can’t throw it yet so she just drops it! She’s very easy going. She likes following us around and laughing all the time.”
Mum and Maven out for a walk
Oh, so cute! You said Maven likes dancing, like her Strictly pro dad…
“She’s in this phase where whenever we sit down to eat dinner and put some music on, she forces us off the chairs and make us dance. If there’s a song that she likes, she pushes you off! The other day it was Barry Manilow, sometimes it’s a 90s dance tune.
“She loves her dancing. As soon as she could start twirling, it’s like every night, it’s time to dance.”
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We bet Pasha loves that!
“Yeah, it’s really cute just watching her learn things. We’ve missed out on the baby clubs and the toddler clubs; she’s not socialised at all.
“We’ve found [a show] on CBeebies and she absolutely adores it. She’s thrilled that she can touch her nose and put her hands on her head. It’s teaching her loads of new things.”
It must have been difficult not being able to go to baby groups…
“Yes, it’s been a shame because something like five of my best friends are pregnant all at the same time and obviously, we’ve just not seen each other. I think when things do start opening up again, we’re going to have to learn how to be parents in the real world because we’ve only really been parents in lockdown.
“Maven was three months old when we went into lockdown, so she’s not socialised with other children, she’s not used to going out to a café and sitting and behaving herself or anything so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but parenting is a challenge isn’t it and kids are adaptable, hopefully!
Pasha, Maven and Rachel
Do you both want more children?
“Yeah I think we’d like another one… Some of my friends had twins by accident and a few of them have got three little ones and everyone seemed to have them straight after. No one regrets it though, do they?”
How have you kept busy in lockdown? Did you get into cooking?
“Yeah we love cooking. We’re vegan and Mave eats what we eat. We’ll cook a big batch in the evening and we’ll have that for lunch the next day.
“I’ve still been filming Countdown which has been really nice actually because we still get out of the house every now and again. Mave loves seeing everyone and eating the makeup brushes! Everyone loves having her around.
“Pasha is organising an online show to raise money for the theatre industry who’ve been hit by the pandemic, so between us, we’ve been busy.”
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What are you looking forward to doing when lockdown is lifted?
“You know you kind of walk past a café… I’d just love to go for breakfast. I’d rather be asleep than going for breakfast normally but it feels like it’s really novel, the idea of going to a café and having something to eat.
“The main thing is seeing friends and family. We’ve been Facetiming my parents all the time. My parents haven’t seen Mave for about three months and they change so much at that age, so as soon as we can see my parents – and friends, and friends with babies.
Photographer: Alan Strutt
What’s coming up for you workwise?
“Countdown and hopefully we’re going to do some more 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. We really enjoy it and we’ve filmed it since we’ve not had an audience – it’s not the same but it still works. It’s still fun.”
We love your clothes on Countdown – where do you like to shop?
“I get a few bits in Michael Kors. Lately, it’s all been online. I’m quite a department store kind of person, so I can go and grab a load of stuff and see what doesn’t look awful and what I can do up these days!”
Has Maven discovered your wardrobe?
“Oh she loves it. When she’s up with us in the studio, the shoes are laid out and there’s a rail of clothes and she’ll grab something sparkly and tries all the shoes on. So I leave her in there with Pash, kind of sneak out so she doesn’t cry when I leave and come back and there’s just shoes everywhere!”
It must be a little girl’s dream!
“Well she’s too little for it to be anything more than something fun to chew on at the moment, but when she gets a bit bigger…
“People sent us all these beautiful dresses and presents when she was born, but then she didn’t get to go anywhere so she’s just had to wear them for photos at home! She’ll put on her best party dress and sit in the bedroom for five minutes!”
Rachel looking glamorous on the red carpet
Tell us about your involvement in the Always campaign
“With this Always campaign we’ve teamed up with Sported, which gives money and grants to different community sports groups, to help girls get back into sport. People can’t share equipment anymore and you need more space, so a lot of these organisations need a lot more help.
“I just loved sport when I was growing up. I played everything that I could: netball, hockey, athletics, football. It kind of resonated with me because I was at an all-girls school and around GCSE time it just stopped sport, so for ages 17 to 18 there was just nothing. I did jogging for a bit but I didn’t get the same buzz or camaraderie out of it. Then when I went to uni I started playing again and it brought me so much, a whole group of friends.
“Looking back on it now, you really see the benefits that sport gives you – not just the teamwork but keeping you out of trouble in your teenage years. I think this is a really good thing to encourage girls to get into sport.”
Are you finding time for any exercise at the moment?
“Getting around the park with the baby, chasing her, pushing her around on the scooter! But now’s the time when people are starting to think, right, what am I going to do when things open?
“I’m hoping one of these days to get back to a bit of Zumba – and Pasha and I want to play squash. I used to play a long time ago.
“As you get older you change the kinds of sports you do. I’m not the kind of person who can go on a treadmill and find it interesting, but when I’m doing sport or chasing a ball, I just love it and you don’t feel like you’re doing exercise.”
Always is on a mission to keep girls playing sports during puberty because the long-term benefits of sports can help #FuelHerFuture. Always is donating to Sported, the UK’s largest network of community sports groups to help deliver Sports programmes across the country.
For every pack of Always Ultra, Always Platinum or Tampax Compak Pearl purchased from participating retailers Always will donate to help Sported deliver programmes across the country.