I have always been pigeonholed. When I was on Countdown, I was seen as the “nerdy” one. Now the pigeonhole has changed, and I sometimes get slated, particularly for what I wear. When I recently wore a tight-fitting dress to The National Television Awards, the reaction in the press was quite hysterical.
I can’t help thinking, if I can cause that much fuss at my age for wearing a dress, well, fabulous! But I didn’t wear it to create a stir – I chose that dress because I think it’s a nice dress.
Some of the things I’ve worn look great and some don’t, but does it matter? I’m not harming anybody.
I haven’t weighed myself for 12 years, but I know from my clothes I’ve gone up a dress size. It’s so easy to do – and I don’t regret it because I’ve been having a great time! But I do know it’s time to take myself in hand now.
I am now single – firmly single – and loving it. I’ve found it suits me. I don’t know if I’ll ever settle down again; I certainly can’t envisage ever getting married again.
My track record with relationships isn’t great. I got married for the first time when I was 24 and, really, I knew from before we got married that it wouldn’t work. We were too young.
I had a very good second marriage. We loved each other very much, and for a long time were happy. I suppose we had outgrown each other. It happens, sadly, but life moves on.
My girlfriends are so important. There are about ten of us who hang out together in Bristol. We go walking a lot, drink coffee, do lots of talking. Sometimes we have a bit of booze and just laugh our drawers off!
I’m with my mother every day and we’re very close. She’s 84 now and living in a flat near me in Bristol. She’s a great role model – her positive outlook on life is amazing. Even when I was a child – my father left us when I was three weeks old – and we were very, very poor, she was always happy.
I’ve always had a strong work ethic. When I got booted off Countdown, I didn’t like not working. I had a couple of years when I was sitting in my office – I set up The Maths Factor business and was working on books, but I didn’t have the telly thing going on.
I’m so thrilled that Loose Women is working because it’s the only show that I have loved in that same way that I loved Countdown with Richard. I feel completely alive when I’m doing it.
I still love learning new things, and that’s why I have so enjoyed working with the Government over the past couple of years. It was very flattering to be asked to lead the maths task force, and I’m so pleased our report has been formally welcomed. We took a new look at the maths education system in the UK and a lot of our recommendations are now being seriously considered.
My favourite way to relax? That’s easy: I always watch Coronation Street. I also get enormous pleasure from where I live. Every day I get a sense of unbounded joy when I see the Clifton Suspension Bridge with all the lights on – it’ll be slightly drizzly, but I just think, “Oh man, that is amazing”.
Find Carol’s online maths school at themathsfactor.com
This is an edited version of Carol’s interview. To read the full article, pick up the April issue of woman&home, out now.