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Pasha Kovalev: I am fortunate the pandemic gave me time with my baby daughter

Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev (Ian West/PA)
Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev (Ian West/PA)

Pasha Kovalev has said he is fortunate that the pandemic has allowed him to spend “precious time” with his baby daughter.

The former Strictly Come Dancing professional’s wife Rachel Riley, who stars on Countdown, gave birth to Maven in 2019.

Kovalev, 41, said that, while not being able to work has been difficult, he has been glad to have a “little distraction”.

Strictly Come Dancing Launch 2018 – London
(Ian West/PA)

He told the PA news agency: “I always love to perform, and being on stage is one of those things for me, personally, that I look forward to and enjoy a lot, and not being able to do it was of course a little bit sad and a little bit tolling on your mind and spirit.

“But, at the same time, there’s nothing you can do and you just have to keep going forward, and I was fortunate also to have a little distraction in my life.

“My baby girl, she was born at the end of 2019, so all my focus went on taking care of her throughout both lockdowns, I guess, and spending a lot of time with my family and watching my girl grow was an absolutely incredible chance that I would never, ever in a million years get if I would have to work.

“Because, once I start working, it’s long days and a lot of times you have to be travelling and be somewhere else, and I would have missed so much from that precious time when my baby just started growing.”

Riley revealed last month that she is pregnant with the couple’s second child.

During the pandemic Kovalev co-founded the Rise Up With Arts series of livestreamed variety performances, which has raised money for arts charities including The Theatre Support Fund.

This weekend more content will air online featuring Queen guitarist Brian May, Blue singer Duncan James and former Strictly Come Dancing star Kevin Clifton.

Kovalev said “everyone should be talking about” the problems facing the performing arts.

Strictly Come Dancing 2015
(Chris Radburn/PA)

“In the past year, obviously with all the theatres being closed, it was very, very hard for a lot of people simply to live because no-one can go to the theatre so it means everyone is out of a job,” he said.

“And I’m not only talking about people you see on stage – I’m talking about people who work on lights and different types of stage hands, make-up artists, costume designers, a lot of people who were involved in the whole process of creating a beautiful show that people and come and see in theatres.”

– The Rise Up With Arts exclusive bonus content is available to stream from Friday to Sunday. Tickets are available for £15 at

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