Monday, 17 April 2017

662 Countdown

First  viewed : Uncertain

I  don't  know  when  my  mum  first  introduced  me  to  Channel  4's  tea  time  perennial  but  the  programme  that  followed  it  around  this  time  wasn't  on  for  that  long  and  I  remember  seeing  that  so  the  Easter  hols  1984  seem  a  good  bet.

Countdown  was  famously  the  first  programme  on  Channel  Four   ( though  it  was  originally  trialled  by  Yorkshire  TV  as  Calendar  Countdown )   back  in  1982  and  has  remained  inviolate  in  its    teatime slot  ever  since. Two  contestants  try  to  make  words  from  randomly  selected  letters  or  get  to  a  randomly  generated  number  by  performing  mathematical  operations  on randomly  selected  numbers.  The  winner  gets  to  come  back  the  next  day  and  so  on  up  to  8  times.  A  reasonably  erudite  celebrity  sits  in  "Dictionary  Corner"  with  a  nice  academic  girl  ( Susie  Dent  has been  holding  this  position  since  1992 )  to  try  and  beat  the  contestants ( though  there's  no  consequence  if  they  do ) and  provide  a  little  commentary.  I've  caught  it  now  and  then  over  the  years  but  it's  never  been  appointment  TV  for  me ( perhaps  because  my  mum  was  significantly  better  at  the  word  games  than  me ).

The  hosts  have  changed  in  recent  years  but  the  classic  line  up  will  always  be  Yorkshire  TV  journalist  Richard  Whiteley - previously  most  famous  for  having  his  finger  gnarled  by  a  ferret - and  supposed  maths  wizard  Carol  Vorderman. They  helmed  the  show  until  Whiteley's  sudden  death  in  2005 - I'll  just  pause  for  breath  at  the  realisation  that  happened  12  years  ago. Des  Lynam  - at  something  of  a  loose  end  since  the  Beeb  had  pinched  back  the  rights  to  Premiership  highlights - was  his  unlikely  replacement  but  he  lasted  a  year  until  the  travelling  to  Leeds  for  filming  got  too  much  for  him. Then  it  was  Des  O 'Connor  for  a  couple  of  years  and  when  he  left  in  2008  Vorderman  also  decided  to  cut  the  knot. I  used  to  like  her  but  years  of  red  carpet  hogging ,boob  jobs  and   pro-Tory  pronouncements  have  made  me  detest  her.

The  last  time  I  watched  it , I  loved  her  replacement  Rachel  Reilly,  but  I  had  no  idea  who  the  host  was , some  droll , grey-haired  old  guy. I  understand  now  that  he's  something  to  do  with  The  Apprentice  which  explains  my  ignorance.

I  remember  my  friend  and  fellow  Dale  fan   Mark  when  he  started  out  in  teaching  maths telling  me  that  he'd  asked  a  class  if  they  could  name  any  famous  mathematicians   and  someone  volunteered  "Carol   Vorderman". He  puffily  replied  that  he  was  unaware  of  any  theorems  that   she  had  formulated. However,  that  didn't  stop  him appearing  on  the  programme  himself   in  February  1997. He  held  his  own  but  couldn't  unseat  the  incumbent  champion. Unfortunately  I  couldn't  find  a  picture  from  that  particular  episode.

1 comment:

  1. I wasn't too shabby at Maths at school, but watching this seemed somehow too much like homework and I doubt I saw more than the odd minute of it whilst passing through the living room back home (my mother also enjoyed it, watching with pen and paper).

    In later years, I gained disdain for Vorderman for plugging payday loan companies. Presumably, she got the gig on the back of her being seen by gullible punters as good with numbers, thus unlikable to endorse a duff company.