When Nick Hewer’s last Countdown episode airs in June 2021, it will have been almost 10 years since the presenter joined the educational Channel 4 show.
Taking over from him will be former Weakest Link host Anne Robinson, who will appear on screens from July onwards.
Ahead of his exit, Nick has shared some words of advice for Robinson.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, he said: “She could advise me on how to handle countdown, but I think that it’s a wonderful show and it’s a kindly show and I’ve always tried to support the contestants and make sure their anxieties are alleviated.
“It’s tough to come in the studio for the first time, and the lights and the bloody clock, but also it’s not a comedy show. I think the the host is is just jogging it along. That’s always been my view, but maybe Anne will wisely jazz it up a bit.”
Although he’s never met Robinson, Hewer believes she’ll be a “huge success” on the show, saying: “All I know is that she’s a very first class presenter!”
Robinson presented the BBC’s Weakest Link from 2000 to 2012. During her time on the show, she was known for her strict, no-nonsense attitude, which sometimes saw her engage in heated discussions with contestants.
Countdown will be a completely different field to the Weakest Link, airing in the lunchtime slot on weekdays and seeing contestants walk away with a teapot and stationary bag rather than a lump sums of cash.
So, what makes Robinson the best woman for the Channel 4 show?
“First of all, she’s a very experienced broadcaster,” Hewer explained. “People say, ‘That’s strange. She was always pretty tough on the Weakest Link,’ but she was playing a role! She will be absolutely fine. And I hope she has as much fun as I’ve had. I’m sure she’ll be terrific.”
Robinson will make history on Countdown as the show’s first ever female host since the series launched in 1982 -–something Hewer says is essential for the current times.
“Rachel [Riley] and Susie [Dent] are looking forward to it equally, and I think, to have a woman presenting it, that’s absolutely right. We’ve never had one, but maybe it’s time. And it is time!” he said.
Although Hewer hopes Robinson will make the most of the experience, he’s a strong believer that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” and thinks Countdown’s success has a lot to do with its consistent “winning formula”.
When asked what he sees in the show’s future, Hewer said: “I’d like to see it carrying on forever. It’s a quiz show, but it isn’t screaming celebs and cash prizes or holidays in Timbuktu. You get a teapot. It’s a very cerebral show. It’s a very difficult show. I wish I was better at it, to be honest.
“I think that it’s a classic case of not turning it into something that might change it radically from that winning formula. It’s nearly 40 years old, it’s fantastic and people love it. The contestants that come on, they just want to get their teapot and they want to do as well as they can, and once they’ve got their tea pot or the conundrum at the end of the year, they leave very happy.”
He continued: “It’s a very English sort of show. And obviously the audience likes it because it’s a good, solid audience who has stuck with us for nearly 40 years. It’s a revolving audience because the kids who learned their ABC and were bouncing on their mother’s knee, then went to school and saw it when they came home, because a lot of people taped it.
“And then the students watch it. We have a big student audience and then they grow to be parents themselves and bounce their children on their knees, and this has been going on going for a generation or two. It’s a great show, and it’s durability proves its worth.”