"As the countdown to a brand-new channel ends, a brand-new
Richard Whiteley's first words on the Countdown debut, alluding to the show's precursor Calendar Countdown (which aired as a brief regional series in 1981).
The thinking man's game show, and the face of Channel Four
in Britain, having been the first programme aired on the channel in 1982 and running ever since. Two contestants face off in a series of Letters and Numbers Games, each hoping to score more points than the other. Every round is timed to 30 seconds, with a big clock ticking down behind the contestants. It was a companion to Fifteen To One
until that show's demise, and nowadays is with Deal or No Deal
is based on a French
game much more straightforwardly titled The Numbers and Letters
(Des chiffres et des lettres
The rounds are as follows, with the first two repeated several times:
- Letters Game: Each player chooses nine random letters by saying whether a consonant or vowel is requested. In the current rules, at least three vowels and four consonants must be chosen. During the time, the players must make the longest word they can using those nine letters. Longest word wins the points.
- Numbers Game: The player requests anywhere from zero to four large numbers (25, 50, 75, or 100) at random. The remaining numbers (up to six) are small numbers with two of every number from 1-10. The computer chooses a random three-digit number that the contestants must achieve using the basic principles of math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). The player closer to the number wins the points, provided their method is without flaw.
- Conundrum: Used to end each show. A nine-letter word is scrambled, and the first player to buzz-in and get it right gets 10 points. In the event that the Conundrum will determine the winner, it is known as a "Crucial Countdown Conundrum". A second Conundrum is occasionally played as a tie-break.
No relation to the American news show Countdown with Keith Olbermann
, the Australian music show Countdown
, or the weekly comic series that was later retitled Countdown to Final Crisis
- Bonus Space: A variant. Any valid nine-letter word awards double the points, for 18 points.
- Home Game: Several, including a DVD version.
- Game Show Host: Richard Whiteley is the most well-known note . He was replaced after his passing by Des Lynam, then Des O'Connor. Jeff Stelling began hosting the show upon the departure of O'Connor. Stelling left the show in 2012, and was replaced with Nick Hewer (yes, that Nick Hewer).
- Lovely Assistant: Primarily Carol Vorderman and Rachel Riley, but the earlier seasons had more of them before Carol took over. note
- Studio Audience
- Dictionary Corner, made up of a lexicographer (usually Susie Dentnote ) and a guest who changes each week.
- Think Music: About as iconic in the UK as the Final Jeopardy! music is in America, to the point that people who never even watch the show will start humming it as a hint that you need to hurry up and make a decision). Have a listen.
This show provides examples of: