Nick Hewer talks Countdown, business and TV snacks

He's hired! Channel 4's new afternoon quiz host loves Miranda - and a good claret, it seems...


Which programme can’t you miss?


The news; I’ve got to have the news. In terms of radio, it’s the Today programme in the morning. I love Channel 4’s seven o’clock news, too.

What is your guilty pleasure?

My greatest pleasure is watching Six Nations Rugby. I support Ireland. My old school in County Kildare has four internationals in the team. I love ’em because they’re gentlemanly in their game. There’s too much swagger in the English team. It’s got to be stamped on. And please may we not spit on the rugby pitch.

What television makes you cry?

Who Do You Think You Are? is fantastic because it’s such a human story and almost inevitably each person who goes back ends up in the poorhouse or is a farm labourer because that’s where we all were 200 years ago. Fascinating.

What would you delete from your partner’s watchlist?

She does watch The X Factor, which I do not.

Have you got a programme idea you would like commissioned?

A friend of mine had an idea that didn’t get made but it’s very good. It’s called Foot in the Mouth and is about PR disasters. Sort of a panel show where you could show what the disaster was, then you could have people on to say how they would have handled it or how they could have avoided it.

Who makes you turn on the telly?

I think Paxman is great. Stephen Fry, Paul Merton and Ian Hislop are just brilliant. Frank Skinner is charming and I really like Miranda – she’s just such a lovely woman.

What makes you turn off?

I can’t be bothered with cooking programmes; they’re switched straight off. I suppose because I’m a stranger to the kitchen.

Who do you wake up to?

The Today programme, usually. But I have an iPad with TuneIn Radio, which is brilliant. You can pick up any station in the world. Sometimes I’m listening to Beijing jazz; sometimes I’m listening to concerts from Seattle.

Who controls the remote at home?

We have five televisions in the house and we’re on Sky. Where’s the bloody remote? Somebody has always moved it, or suddenly there are four in the kitchen. Who’s in charge of the remote? I’d like to know – if you can answer that question, I’ll give you a fiver.

Perfect night-in viewing?

The news, followed by Newsnight, followed by Cinema Paradiso, which I love because it’s tearful and charming.

What’s your perfect TV snack?

A crisp apple, good cheddar cheese and a decent half-bottle of claret.

How much would it take to get you into the jungle?

A million.

Who was your first TV crush?

Hayley Mills. I met her last year and I said, “How’s your father?” and she said, “He’s been dead four years.” It was terrible. I said, “Oh, Miss Mills, we were all in love with you at school.” She left the room and she didn’t look back, either.

Who would play you in a biopic of your life?

Wilfrid Brambell. I was once referred to as looking like a pox doctor’s clerk.

Most embarrassing TV moment?

I was ambushed by Rob Brydon on Would I Lie to You? when he produced an orange sweatshirt with two holes for two heads – he supposedly snuggled up to his wife in it. It had two arms and the other arms you used to cuddle each other. There was nothing I could do because you can’t be a bad sport. I had to do it and sit on his knee. My children would have been wincing. 

Nick Hewer takes over as presenter of Countdown from Monday 9 January.


This is an edited version of an article in the issue of Radio Times published 3 January 2012