The ex-partner of the late Countdown host Richard Whiteley has attacked the "nasty" treatment of his former colleague Carol Vorderman.

Vorderman has left the Channel 4 show after some 26 years and more than 5,000 editions after it emerged she had been asked to take a 90 per cent pay cut.

And after it was claimed the show's production team told Vorderman that Countdown had survived after the death of Whiteley in 2005 and "will survive without you", Kathryn Apanowicz has spoken out against the programme makers, ITV Productions.

"That [the producers' alleged remarks] upset me deeply as his partner, and it did upset Carol deeply, and it's upset all of Richard's friends," she told BBC Radio 5 Live.

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

She continued: "I've been on the phone to Carol all weekend. 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.'"

It was initially reported that following Des O'Connor's announcement that he was leaving the programme, Vorderman chose to step down out of a wish to avoid the upheaval of working with another presenter.

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

She went on: "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.

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

John Miles, Vorderman's agent, revealed that the 47-year-old had accepted a pay cut of one-third, in line with a 33 per cent budget cut imposed by ITV Productions, only to be told she had 48 hours in which to decide to take or leave a 90 per cent pay cut.

28/07/2008 12:17:56