CAROL Vorderman breaks down in tears on TV tonight as she recalls the death of old friend and Countdown colleague Richard Whiteley.
She said she loved the Channel 4 show's presenter, who died in 2005 after they worked together for more than two decades, in "a genuine, pure way".
Vorderman (51) tells Piers Morgan's Life Stories on ITV1: "It still hurts very much. I loved him, I really loved him."
She and Whiteley first worked together on the words and numbers programme which gave her a TV break in November 1982 when the show launched. They continued to work together until he died, following heart surgery.
She tells Morgan: "He was more than just nice, he was funny, funny, funny. Every time we were in studio together I would cry laughing. He was just a joy to be with and I loved him. Not in that way, just a genuine, pure thing."
Maths whiz Vorderman continued on Countdown for a further three years but left when she failed to agree terms on a new contract. But she now says she'd be happy to make an appearance on the show in the future.
Vorderman also suggested her career success was responsible for the demise of her second marriage to Patrick King.
Morgan asked: "If you hadn't seen your career explode at the time that it did, do you think would have split up?"
She said: "Probably not. I think it did have an influence, yes. Probably we would be together."