Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 14:42 UK

Anger over Vorderman's departure

Kathryn Apanowicz and Carol Vorderman

The partner of Countdown's late host Richard Whiteley and the show's creator have both criticised the events which led Carol Vorderman to quit the series.

Kathryn Apanowicz said it was "below the belt" that Vorderman was allegedly told Countdown could survive without her if she failed to accept a pay cut.

And creator Marcel Stellman said he was "sad" about her departure, which "could have been done in a such a lovely way".

Neither Channel 4 nor Countdown's producers would comment on the remarks.

"We never discuss contractual agreements of presenters or comments by other people on contractual agreements," a spokeswoman for Channel 4 said.

'Great dignity'

Ms Apanowicz told BBC Radio 5 Live the treatment Ms Vorderman had allegedly received was "awful", adding the pair had been on the phone to each other "all weekend".

She did not ask for half a million pounds. She did not ask for more money. It is an absolute untruth
Kathryn Apanowicz
Richard Whiteley's ex-partner

"It's one thing if you say, 'Look, we've had enough,'... but this was dealt with in such an awful way.

"She said with great dignity, 'Thank you very much; I'm very sad to leave - wish my colleagues all the best.'

"Then they decide to leak that she's left because of a pay dispute. I can tell you quite categorically - it was not."

Vorderman's agent said on Saturday that the star felt forced to step down from the show when she was told to take a 90% pay cut from a salary understood to be in the region of Ł1m.

It could've been done in such a lovely way, with great dignity, but I'm afraid some people who deal with things sometimes forget what that means
Marcel Stellman
Countdown creator
Ms Apanowicz said Vorderman had been willing to accept lower wages because she understood cuts were being enforced by ITV Productions, which makes Countdown.

Therefore stories suggesting she was "greedy" had upset Vorderman, Ms Apanowicz added.

"That is the thing [which meant] she said, 'The viewers must think I'm terrible. Everybody's in recession at the moment and the last thing I want to do is alienate people.'

"She was even contemplating taking this ridiculous figure that they offered her," Ms Apanowicz said.

"She did not ask for half a million pounds. She did not ask for more money. It is an absolute untruth."

Carol Vorderman
Carol Vorderman has been the maths "expert" for the show's 26-year run

"Remarks allegedly made by the programme's producers that the show had survived after Whiteley's death in 2005 and would continue without Vorderman, were "below the belt" and "crass", Ms Apanowicz said.

"That upset me deeply as his partner, and it did upset Carol deeply, and it's upset all of Richard's friends.

"It's nasty. You don't need to say things like that."

Mr Stellman, who devised and owns the rights to the Countdown format worldwide, said he had told producers he was "upset" about "the way Carol was treated after 26 years of loyalty and devotion".

"I think they could've done something, shall we say, simply and human by saying, 'Carol, we love you dearly. You did a wonderful job for all those years. We're terribly sorry to lose you. Unfortunately it seems to be something that we can't afford.'"

"I'm sad that it happened," he told the BBC News website.

"It could've been done in such a lovely way, with great dignity, but I'm afraid some people who deal with things sometimes forget what that means."

'Misquoted'

However Mr Stellman stopped short of saying he would withhold the rights to the programme in future, insisting he was "misquoted" in a Daily Mirror report suggesting this.

"I don't want to feel that I have any truck with anybody who does anything because I'm only responsible for the format rights," he said.

Des O'Connor and Carol Vorderman
Des O'Connor (left) has announced he will quit Countdown in November
"My format rights are covered and if they respect them, which they don't always do obviously, I will respect them."

Vorderman was part of the original team on the words-and-numbers game show.

It was the first programme to be broadcast when Channel 4 began in 1982.

She started as the maths "expert" who would check contestants' sums in the numbers rounds, but took on extra duties to become a sidekick to Whiteley.

Last week Countdown's current host, Des O'Connor, announced he would leave the show in November after presenting more than 500 editions.


SEE ALSO
New job please, Carol?
28 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
Vorderman 'forced' to quit quiz
26 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
Carol Vorderman quits Countdown
25 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
Des O'Connor to leave Countdown
23 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
Vorderman honours 'Mr Countdown'
27 Jun 05 |  Entertainment
Presenter Richard Whiteley dies
26 Jun 05 |  Entertainment

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