Countdown is a British game show involving word and number puzzles. It was the first programme to be aired on Channel 4, and 77 series have been broadcast since its debut on 2 November Countdown was initially recorded at The Leeds Studios for 27 years, before moving to Manchester-based Granada Studios in The programme was presented by Richard Whiteley for over 20 years, until his sudden death in June It was then presented by Des Lynam until the end ofDes O'Connor until the end ofand Jeff Stelling until the end of ; Nick Hewer has presented the show since She was replaced by Rachel Riley.
Cathy Hytner originally placed letters on the board for the letters games before this was taken over by Vorderman. A celebrity guest features in every programme, and provides a brief interlude midway between the two advertisement breaks. The two contestants in each episode compete in three disciplines: "Dating game show bloopers and out take" the series heats, the winning contestant returns the next day until they either lose or retire with eight wins as an undefeated "Octochamp.
Contestants of exceptional skill have received national media coverage, and the programme as a whole is widely recognised and parodied within British culture.
Countdown is based on the French game show Des chiffres et des lettres Numbers and Letterscreated by Armand Jammot. The format was brought to Britain by Marcel Stellman, a Belgian record executive, who had watched the French show and believed it could be popular overseas. Yorkshire Television purchased the format and commissioned a series of eight shows under the title Calendar Countdownwhich was to be a spin-off of their regional news programme Calendar.
As the presenter of CalendarRichard Whiteley was the natural choice to present Calendar Countdown with his daily appearances on both shows earning him the nickname "Twice Nightly". An additional pilot episode was made, with a refined format, although it was never Dating game show bloopers and out take. Channel 4 originally planned a parallel Junior Countdown in which the contestants were children.
The pilot episode was filmed on 26 Novemberless than a month after the first adult version was broadcast. The format mirrored that of the adult version. No further episodes were filmed, and the pilot episode was never broadcast.
Brandreth, speaking on Countdown in Novemberstated that the concept had proved disastrous, and was abandoned. Cathy Hytner and Beverley Isherwood selected the letters and numbers tiles respectively, and calculations in the numbers rounds were checked by Linda Barrett or Carol Vorderman.
Unlike almost any other game show hostess of the time, however, the advertisement also made it clear that the applicants' appearance would be less important than their talent as a mathematician. Whiteley fell ill with septicaemia inand as a result he was no longer able to Dating game show bloopers and out take Countdown.
Although Whiteley made a slow recovery from his illness, he died on 26 Juneafter a failed operation to correct a problem that had been detected in his heart. Channel 4 took the following show off the "Dating game show bloopers and out take" as a mark of respect, and the next programme was preceded by a tearful tribute from Carol Vorderman. The final five shows Whiteley had filmed the conclusion of Series 53 were aired, after which the show was placed on hiatus before returning in Octoberwith Des Lynam who had featured on Celebrity Countdown in as the main presenter.
Channel 4 had tried an extra programme on Saturday in early which Lynam had agreed to, subject to part of the filming schedule being moved nearer to his home. However, viewers reacted angrily to the idea of the show leaving Leeds,  and when Lynam found out that a move would cause considerable disruption for many of the programme's camera crew, he decided to leave. O'Connor first presented Countdown on 2 January The other studio mainstay is Dictionary Corner, which houses a "Dating game show bloopers and out take" and that week's celebrity guest referred to as "GoD" or "Guardian of the Dictionaries".
The role of the lexicographer is to verify the words offered by the contestants see Letters round rules and point out any longer or otherwise interesting words available. The lexicographer is aided in finding these words by the show's producers, Michael Wylie until his death in November and Damian Eadie. Many lexicographers have appeared over the years, but since her debut inSusie Dent has become synonymous with the role, and has made over three thousand appearances.
Dent returned to the series on 6 February In the same month, Carol Vorderman announced that she would also leave the show at the same time. On 16 Novemberit was announced that Nick Hewer would be taking over as host, with his first show broadcast on 9 January Countdown quickly established cult status within British television  — an image which it maintains today,  despite numerous changes of rules Dating game show bloopers and out take personnel.
The programme's audience comprises mainly students, homemakers and pensioners,  owing to the "teatime" broadcast slot and inclusive appeal of its format and presentation. The drop in viewers following the scheduling change, coupled with the show's perceived educational benefits, even caused Labour MP Jonathan Shaw to table a motion in the UK Parliamentrequesting that the show be returned to its later time. As ofit is broadcast at Contestants on each episode compete for a teapot that is styled to resemble the second time clock used in each round.
Introduced in Decemberthe pot is custom-made and can only be obtained by winning a game on the programme. David Acton, winner of Series 31, opted for a CD-ROM version of the dictionaries, not wanting to accept leather-bound books owing to his strict veganismand he donated the monetary difference to charity. Sincethe series champion also receives the Richard Whiteley Memorial Trophy, in memory of the show's original presenter. Though the style and colour scheme of the set have changed many times and the show itself moved to Manchester, after more than 25 years in Leeds the clock has always provided the centrepiece and, like the clock music composed by Alan Hawkshawis an enduring and well-recognised feature of Countdown.
Executive producer John Meade once commissioned Hawkshaw to revise the music for extra intensity; Dating game show bloopers and out take hundreds of complaints from viewers, the old tune was reinstated. The first episode of Countdown was repeated on 1 October on More4 and on 2 November on Channel 4, as part of Channel 4 at 25a season of celebratory Channel 4 programmes as it celebrated its 25th birthday.
On 2 NovemberCountdown celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary and aired a special 'birthday episode'. The two players were winner Conor Travers and winner Chris Wills. However, for the rounds, VIP guests selected the letters and numbers.
On 5 Septemberthe programme received a Guinness World Record at the end of its 6,th show for the longest-running television programme of its kind during the course of its 71st series. On 23 July Dating game show bloopers and out take, it was announced that O'Connor would be leaving the show at the end of the 59th series in December to concentrate on other projects.
Her agent, John Miles, claims Vorderman had been told the show had survived the death of host Richard Whiteley in and could "easily survive without you. Later reports suggested Alexander Armstrong  and Jeff Stelling  as potential hosts, although Armstrong later revealed he had refused the job.
Eventually, on 21 Novemberafter O'Connor and Vorderman had finished filming, it was confirmed that Stelling and Oxford maths graduate Rachel Riley would join the show,  with Susie Dent continuing as resident lexicographer. Countdown has occupied a tea-time broadcast slot since its inception.
Currently an episode lasts around 45 minutes including advertising breaks. During the normal series, the winner of each game returns for the next day's show. A player who wins eight games is declared an "octochamp" and retires until the series finals. At the end of the series, the eight players with most wins or the highest total score in the event of a tie are invited back to compete in the series finals.
They are seeded in a knockout tournament, with the first seed playing the eighth seed, Dating game show bloopers and out take second playing the seventh, and so on.
The winner of this knockout, which culminates in the Grand Final, becomes the series champion. Each series lasts around six months, with about episodes. Approximately every four series, a Champion of Champions tournament takes place. For this, sixteen of the best players to have appeared since the previous Championship are invited back for another knockout tournament.
The producerformer contestant Damian Eadie, decides which players to include, but typically the tournament includes the series winners and other noteworthy contestants. For example, David Acton and Kenneth Michie returned for a rematch of their Series 31 final, while brothers and former contestants Sanjay and Sandeep Mazumder played off against each other on 20 December The game is split into three sections, separated by advertising breaks. The first section contains two letters rounds and a numbers round, the second has four letters rounds and two numbers rounds, while the last section has four letters rounds, a numbers round and a final "Conundrum" puzzle.
With the exception of the Conundrum, the contestants swap control after every round so that each of them has control for five letters rounds and two numbers rounds. At the end of the first two sections, Hewer poses a Teatime Teaser for the viewers, giving a set of short words and a cryptic clue to a single word that can be anagrammed from them.
The solution is revealed at the start of the next section. When the Teatime Teaser was first introduced, the anagrams were seven letters long; they were later extended to eight, and then to nine in late The contestant in control chooses between two stacks of letter tiles, one containing vowels and the other consonantsand Riley reveals the top tile from that stack and places it on the board. This is done nine times, and the final grouping must contain at least three vowels and four consonants.