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  • 1982
  • Entertainment
  • Game show


"Countdown" has been a daytime staple since original host Richard Whiteley uttered the first words on Channel 4 in 1982: "As the countdown to a brand new channel ends, a brand new Countdown begins." Based on the French TV game "Des chiffres et des letters", the format of the game is simple: two contestants must try to come up with the longest word from a random selection of consonants and vowels. They also participate in a numbers round where they must use mental arithmetic to reach a random target from six other numbers; and the conundrum, a buzzer round in which the contestants compete to solve a nine-letter anagram. Originally piloted in 1981 as a regional series for Yorkshire Television called "Calendar Countdown", over on Channel 4 Whiteley soon developed a winning rapport with co-host Carol Vorderman, who used to pick the letters and numbers at the start of each round and wowed audiences with her mathematical skills. Vorderman stayed on the show for a few years following Whiteley's sudden death in 2005. His position was taken by Des Lynam, who was replaced a year later by Des O'Connor. From 2009, Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling and TV newcomer Rachel Riley replaced O'Connor and Vorderman respectively. Nick Hewer took over from Stelling in January 2012.

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