Rachel Riley calls for support from Strictly bosses after claiming show left her with PTSD

Countdown star Rachel Riley met her future husband, Pasha Kovalev when she was paired with him on Strictly Come Dancing back in 2013. However, despite finding love on the BBC show, she was so traumatised by her appearances that she developed PTSD, and became anxious when she so much as heard the theme tune ring out on TV.

The 38-year-old is now calling for everyone who competes to be offered therapy, to protect against the “mental pressures” involved. “I don’t think even production is aware of quite what it does to people,” she shuddered while talking at the Inspiration Awards For Women.

The ceremony, which was held at the plush Landmark Hotel in Marylebone, London, is all about recognising and celebrating female achievement – and Rachel was also keen to lift a lid on some of the hidden pressures that can be faced. “I know from my time on it, 11 years ago, even the most sane, solid, grounded people, it can do something to you,” she mused.

“There’s so many people that I’ve seen in subsequent years that have that shared experience.” These include Sherlock actress Amanda Abbington, who pulled out of the show while competing with pro dancer Giovanni Pernice, and later revealed that she’d been diagnosed with PTSD.

The 52-year-old also requested video footage of herself backstage at rehearsals, although she subsequently dropped her complaint, with the BBC confirming that the matter is “now closed”. Meanwhile, Rachel took an even tougher stance against the show during one interview with The Times.

“I advise friends not to go on the show…I don’t think there is enough awareness of the psychological effects it has. I am a maths geek, not a performer,” she declared.

The Countdown ace repeated similar sentiments when she spoke to The Mirror, revealing: “I needed cognitive behavioural therapy after competing in 2013 and developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

“If I heard the theme music, I’d start reliving the experience. It was scary and unnerving, so my way of dealing with it is to avoid watching.”

However, she then reflected: “Mind you, if I hadn’t competed I wouldn’t have met Pasha! He’s just brilliant.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the BBC for comment on Rachel’s claims about Strictly Come Dancing.

The pair started dating in 2014, the year after they first met, and married in 2019 in a secret Las Vegas ceremony.

They have welcomed two kids together – four-year-old Maven Aria, three, and two-year-old Noa.

Rachel and Amanda aren’t the only ones who’ve struggled on Strictly – Laura Whitmore also revealed she was “extremely uncomfortable” when she performed in 2016, recalling she’d “cried every day”.

Elsewhere on reality shows recently, Ekin-Su Culculoglu sparked concern when she burst into tears on Celebrity Big Brother, with some believing she’d been bullied and criticising Layton Williams for urging her “not to blame [people’s reactions to her] on the edit”.


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