TV Cream

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"Watched myself in Countdown. It was terrible." Your once-daily vowel movement

“AND AS THE COUNTDOWN to a brand new channel ends, so a new Countdown begins…” Little needs to be said about this behemoth of the last 25 years – and there’s not much to add about the show either (ho ho). Grew out of Yorkshire TV-only Calendar Countdown slot. RICHARD WHITELEY did the lot until death in 2005, wherepon DES LYNAM took over until he couldn’t be arsed driving up to Leeds and handed the mantle (along with his first name) over to DES O’CONNOR, who then pissed off to be replaced by JEFF STELLING. CAROL VORDERMAN was also there from the off until she flounced out in protest at a pay cut. Used to call the number generator Cecil, which stood for Countdown Electronic Computer In Leeds. 10 greatest ever Dictionary Corner denizens: STILGOE, BRANDRETH, WILLIAMS (KENNETH), O’CONNOR (TOM), SOPRENDO (THE GREAT), DIGANCE, FRY, SHERRIN, JARVIS (MARTIN), WAKEMAN.



  1. Pearlyman

    July 13, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Was on it back in 1997! Can vouch for Tom O’Connor being a thoroughly nice fella and only ever talking in quips.

  2. Chris Hughes

    July 13, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Now, this is exactly the sort of brilliant comment I want to read on TV Cream!


    July 15, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    yes thanks pearlyman, great comment about the great O’Connor! quips indeed

  4. Matthew Rudd

    September 5, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Carol shared duties with “Dr” Linda Barrett initially, didn’t she? Vital statisticians, the pair of them. Oh yes.

  5. Joanne Gray

    November 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    I recently found an unedited You Tube video of the Calendar Countdown pilot episode. Richard Whitely didn’t have the foggiest idea what he was meant to be doing or saying (in all fairness, the studio crew at Yorkshire were floundering a bit too) and he really had to control his temper when one of the contestants kept pointing out errors in the gameplay and scoring that made the director call “Cut” several times. Well worth watching.

  6. Richardpd

    January 8, 2022 at 3:57 pm

    One contestant was David Elias, who often contributed questions for other quiz shows.

    Sheridan Morley was another good guest in the dictionary corner, often appearing in the 1990s.

    Based on a French game show that has been TV there for years. I remember catching a bit of it there when on holiday in 1993.

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