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If two contestants offered a word of the same length, or an equally close solution to a numbers game, then only the contestant who made the selection for that round was awarded points. Also, only five points were given for an exact numbers solution, three for a solution within 5, and one point for the closer solution, no matter how far away.
The set design has changed over the years with the centrepiece of it always being the Countdown clock. The original set was used from its launch in until Series 17 in early A new upmarket brown set was introduced in Series 18 in July but only remained in use for less than 2 years. Series 22 from July saw the introduction of the familiar and long-lived "Wings" set which was used in its original form until Series 31 in January saw its colour scheme change to purple and changed again to tangerine at the end of alongside updated score displays.
January saw the set updated to a new pink and purple striped theme with the letters and numbers boards now on separate islands rather than being integrated into the set. New modern displays for the scores and the numbers round came in January while the set received a slight redesign in July while retaining the blue background which is currently in use. Until the end of Series 21, if the two contestants had equal scores after the first conundrum, the match was considered a draw and they both returned for the next show.
When the format was expanded to fifteen rounds, Richard Whiteley continued to refer jokingly to the three segments of the show as "halves". Under the old format, Grand Finals were specially extended shows of fourteen rounds,  but now all shows use a fifteen-round format. The rules regarding which words are permitted have changed with time.
American spelling was allowed until ,  and more unspecified inflections were assumed to be valid. In September , an "Origin of Words" feature was added to the show, in which Susie Dent explains the origin of a word or phrase she has been researching. This spot currently follows the eighth letters round, partway through the third section of each episode. The feature was omitted during the time that Dent was absent for maternity leave, and was reinstated upon her return.
When the round format was first introduced in September , the composition of the rounds was different from that used by the programme today. The three sections each had five rounds, four letters rounds and one numbers round in each of the first two sections, with three letters rounds, one numbers round and the conundrum in the third section. This meant that there was a slight imbalance, whereby one contestant made the letters sections for six rounds, but had the choice of the numbers selection just once, whereas the other contestant chose letters five times and numbers twice. The Dictionary Corner guest's spot was immediately before the first advertising break, and Susie Dent's Origin of Words spot preceded the second numbers game shortly before the second break.
The change to the present format was made on 25 March , three weeks into the second section of Series 68, to comply with Channel 4's decision to increase the amount of adverts and alter the times when they occur during the programme, therefore reducing Countdown's actual show length from 36 to 35 minutes. Since Countdown 's debut in , there have been over 7, televised games and 79 complete series.
There have also been fifteen Champion of Champions tournaments, with the most recent held in January Several of Countdown 's most successful contestants have received national media coverage. Teenager Julian Fell set a record score of in December Conor Travers went on to win the 30th Anniversary Champion of Champions series in March with a record equalling top score of On 17 January , in the quarter-final of the 15th Champion of Champions tournament Zarte Siempre, who eventually won that tournament, set a new record score of This record was beaten in May by Elliot Mellor's score of At eight years old, Tanmay Dixit was the youngest player ever to appear on the show, where he achieved two wins in March On Christmas Day, , Nic Brown set the highest score difference ever achieved in a standard round game, beating Joel Salkin , a margin of 72 points.
In April , Giles Hutchings, a student at Royal Grammar School, Guildford broke the record for the highest octochamp score, amassing points over 8 games. He went on to win series In the record was beaten by 87 points by teenager, Elliott Mellor, who became the first octochamp to break the point barrier, scoring a total of over his eight preliminary games. Three former contestants have returned to Countdown as part of the production team: Michael Wylie, Mark Nyman as producer, and occasional lexicographer in Dictionary Corner and Damian Eadie the current series producer.
In , sixteen celebrities were invited to play Celebrity Countdown , a series of eight games broadcast every Thursday evening over the course of eight weeks. For this game, the presenter's chair was taken by William G. Stewart , the host of fellow Channel 4 game show Fifteen to One. The Doctor Who episode " Bad Wolf " mentions a futuristic version of Countdown , in which the goal is to stop a bomb from exploding in 30 seconds.
Countdown was referenced again in a later series in " Last of the Time Lords " , where Professor Docherty expresses a keen fondness for the show and how it "hasn't been the same since Des took over—Both Deses". Fairport Convention guitarist Simon Nicol named one of his solo records Consonant Please, Carol , echoing one of the show's catchphrases.
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Countdown has also generated a number of widely-viewed outtakes , with the letters occasionally producing a word that was deemed unsuitable for the original broadcast. A round in which Dictionary Corner offered the word gobshite featured in TV's Finest Failures in the actual episode aired on 10 January ,  and in one episode from , contestants Gino Corr and Lawrence Pearse both declared the word wankers. This was edited out of the programme but has since appeared on many outtakes shows. Other incidents with only marginally rude words including wanker , singular have made it into the programme as they appeared, such as those with Tanmay Dixit referenced above, a clip from a episode in which the word fart appeared as the first four letters on the board which also featured on Greatest TV Moments from Hell ,  and a round where an anagram of the word fucked appeared on the board in the string "A U O D F C K E G", although neither player chose to use the word, and Dictionary Corner was able to find two seven-letter words that could have been made from the board's offerings.
Finchy states that it probably was 'professor in charge of watching Countdown every day', commenting on its student audience, and referring to the fact anyone watching Countdown during its 'hometime' time slot cannot be out at work. In , when Vorderman was a guest, one of the usual rounds was replaced with a conundrum round based on the week's news. When Vorderman hosted Have I Got News in , one of the rounds was the "Spinning Conundrum Numbers Round", altering the "Spinning Headlines" round, by adding a number to a picture relating to the week's news; then at the end of the round, the six numbers from the picture were used for a numbers game.
Richard Whiteley was the victim of a practical joke while presenting the show. The contestants and rounds had been planted as part of a "Gotcha! In the prank, both the two contestants and Dictionary Corner missed the word "something" from the letters OMETHINGS, and from another selection, both of the contestants declared "I've got diarrhoea" referring to the selection.
In the numbers round that followed, the male contestant "answered" the puzzle by reading out the numbers. Whiteley did not uncover the joke until House Party presenter Noel Edmonds appeared on the set, having revealed the unusually short conundrum of HOGCAT to be "gotcha" at the end of the programme.
The first time it was referred to was when "Dev" Coronation Street made a sound like the countdown end of thirty seconds time. The episode featured a cameo from Gyles Brandreth , a regular contributor to Dictionary Corner. British entertainer Stevie Riks has parodied the show in one of his many YouTube comedy videos. The game has also been played on a number of different programs, notably as the first challenge in "What's Next" on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway , featuring the pair versus one of the duo's old head teachers.
In , it was played as a shopping task on the final Channel 4 series of Celebrity Big Brother , with a team of housemates competing in the house against the-then current champion, Chris Davies, in the Countdown studio via satellite. The housemates failed this task. Several boardgames, books and video games have been released under the franchise.
Many boardgames have been developed to replicate the rules and game play of the television show. The boardgame will often consist of a board to place letters and number on, several scorecards, a selection of numbers and letters, a number generator and a timing device older models use an hourglass whilst newer models contain a battery powered timer.
These contained LCD black and white displays and a variety of physical controls. Many of these often bore the official Countdown logo. Gameplay is achieved via a DVD player and the remote control. The DVD was sold disk only, or as a bundle containing notepads and pencils. Gameplay is replicated as it is on the show.
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On the DS version, players can compete against each other via Download Play, using a single game card. The player can practise on a specific round or compete in a quick 5-round or full round game either alone, or against another player on the same device, or against CPU with 4 difficulty levels. In Belgium many local clubs were founded where people could play the game themselves. An American version of Countdown  was taped in as an unsold pilot.
Hosted by British expat Michael Jackson a Los Angeles -based radio personality , and announced by game show veteran Charlie O'Donnell , this version followed closely to the British version, with a few changes. Everyday contestants were paired up with celebrities and played two games each. Three rounds were played in each game, with a bonus round to the higher scoring team. The first two rounds, like the British version, had each contestant taking turns picking nine letter tiles and attempting to form one word in 30 seconds.
Like the British version, the team that formed the longest word was awarded the points based on how many letters were used. Teams were allowed to confer with each other in the first two rounds. The third round, only eight-letter titles were picked, with the ninth being a "wild card" that the contestant could use any way they would like. In this round, the contestant is not allowed to confer with their celebrity partner.
The player with the highest score after three rounds wins the game and plays the bonus round.
In the bonus round, the contestant works with their celebrity partner to unscramble six words in 45 seconds. Each word gets longer, starting with a four-letter word, then a five-letter word, then a six-letter word, then a seven-letter word, then an eight-letter word, and finally a nine-letter word. Contestants would switch celebrity partners and play another game in the same format three rounds, with another chance at the bonus round.
The contestant with the higher total score at the end of both games would return to the next show. If the contestants tied, both would return to the next show. Five-day champions would win a new car and retire undefeated. The Numbers round and the Conundrum round were both eliminated from the American version. In , [ citation needed ] a Spanish version of this show was released: Cifras y Letras numbers and letters. The show was originally presented by Elisenda Roca, along with a word expert and mathematician. As this show progressed, a second version of the same show was also produced, which covered Latin American Spanish.
The current Peninsular Spanish edition is presented by Paco Lodeiro. Shortly after this, a Galician version was also released: Cifras e Letras , differing from the above only in the fact that it used Galician instead of Spanish, and a studio design variation. Each episode was 30 minutes long and consisted of five letters rounds, three numbers rounds and the conundrum.
The last episode was aired on 27 June , after five series and one masters series. As of , SBS continued to screen reruns of the series. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. British television game show. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. January Learn how and when to remove this template message. The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November Retrieved 21 September Archived from the original on 31 August Retrieved 25 July BBC News. Retrieved 2 January Daily Mail. Retrieved 24 June Archived from the original on 28 July Retrieved 10 July Digital Spy. Retrieved 23 July Retrieved 26 July Retrieved 30 April London: The Independent, 18 October Vorderman Christmas special—Retrieved 25 June The Telegraph.
Retrieved 27 March The Daily Edge. ITN Source. Retrieved 11 August Retrieved 13 September This audio file was created from a revision of the article " Countdown game show " dated , and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. Audio help. More spoken articles. Countdown game show category.
Carol Vorderman Rachel Riley. Susie Dent. Categories : Spoken articles British television series debuts s British game shows s British game shows s British game shows s British game shows British game shows Channel 4 game shows Countdown game show English-language television programs Television series by ITV Studios Television series by Yorkshire Television.
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