Carol Vorderman has announced that she is to quit Countdown after 26 years as the game show’s mathematical expert.

The 47-year-old – who has been with the show since its very beginning, was said to be “extremely sad” to be leaving, according to the Mirror.

Her decision comes just days after Des O’Connor announced he was stepping down as host of the teatime show.

“It was a difficult decision because she loves Countdown dearly and always has,” her manager John Miles said in a statement. “The contestants, viewers and crew are like family to her.”

“Carol had considered quitting when Richard Whiteley died suddenly three years ago but she eventually agreed to continue, turning down the offer to take over as host.”

“She has been lucky enough to have worked with two wonderful new co-hosts in Des Lynam and Des O’Connor. Countdown has been such a huge part of her life for so long.”

A show insider told The Sun that Carol had recently been renegotiating her contract on Countdown, said to be worth £5 over three years.

“Carol was asking for about £500,000 more a year but when things didn’t pan out and Des quit she just put her hands up and said ‘I’m out’,” the source said.

“She found it hard to come back after Richard Whiteley’s death and could not deal with getting to grips with another presenter.”

Carol was the first woman to appear on Channel 4 when the show launched the network in November 1982.

Since then she has appeared on more than 4,500 editions, originally joining as the maths expert for the numbers games, but later on presiding over the letter board as well.

“We are extremely sorry to see Carol leave,” said Kevin Lygo, Channel 4’s Director of Television and Content. “We hope to work with her again on other projects.”

Both Carol and Des will leave the show at the end of the year. Despite the two departures, Channel 4 bosses have said that Countdown will continue.