Countdown (game show)
Countdown is a British game show involving word and number puzzles. It is produced by ITV Studios and broadcast on Channel 4. It is presented by Nick Hewer, assisted by Rachel Riley, with regular lexicographer Susie Dent. It was the first programme to be aired on Channel 4, and over sixty-five series have been broadcast since its debut on 2 November 1982. With over 5,000 episodes, it is one of the longest-running game shows in the world, along with the original French version, Des chiffres et des lettres, which has been running on French television continuously since 1965. Countdown is recorded at the Granada Studios, after moving from The Leeds Studios in 2009. In 2012, the show will be moved over to MediaCityUK in Salford.
The programme was presented by Richard Whiteley for over twenty years, until his death in June 2005. His position was taken over by Des Lynam, who retired from the show in December 2006 and was replaced by Des O'Connor on 2 January 2007. Carol Vorderman, the show's co-host, who had been on the programme since it began, left the show in December 2008. From 2009, Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley replaced O'Connor and Vorderman respectively. In May 2011, Stelling announced that he would leave the programme at the end of 2011. On 9 January 2012, Nick Hewer presented his first edition of Countdown.
A celebrity guest features in every programme, and provides a brief interlude before the first advertisement break. The two contestants in each episode compete in three disciplines: eleven letters rounds, in which the contestants attempt to make the longest word possible from nine randomly chosen letters; three numbers rounds, in which the contestants must use arithmetic to reach a random target number from six other numbers; and the conundrum, a buzzer round in which the contestants compete to solve a nine-letter anagram. During the series heats, the winning contestant returns the next day until he or she loses or has accumulated eight wins. The best contestants are invited back for the series finals, which are decided in knockout format. Contestants of exceptional skill have received national media coverage, and the programme as a whole is widely recognised and parodied within British culture.