Countdown is a game show adapted from the French format "Des Chiffres Et Des Lettres". The show was originally broadcast on British regional TV channel Yorkshire Television, at 6.30pm following the local news programme "Calendar" (1968), and was originally called "Calendar Countdown". The show works on a winner-stays-on basis, with contestants retiring after eight wins. The top eight players return at the end of the series to compete in a knockout phase with the top prize being the complete (20 volume) Oxford English Dictionary, worth around 6000 UKP. Champion-of-Champions competitions are also held about once every two years, seeing who is the best of the best.
Richard Whiteley had been a presenter on "Calendar" from 1968 until 1995. "Countdown" shortly thereafter moved to Channel 4 upon that channel's launch. Originally, Carol Vorderman only presented the numbers rounds of the game - the letters rounds were presented in the early series by other hostesse's (Kathy Hytner, Beverley Isherwood and Linda Barratt have all had this role, Hytner the longest, due to budget-cutting, the other 2 were axed in 1983) After Kathy Hytner Left in 1987, Karen Loughlin took over until the end of 1988. Throughout 1989 before Carol became the sole hostess, Lucy Summers took the role of presenting the Letter Rounds. The show has had many on-screen adjudicators, of whom the longest-serving and best-known is Susie Dent (January 1992 to present).
Sadly Richard Whiteley passed away after contracting pneumonia in October 2005, their was rumours that the next series (series 54) would be presented by a different guest presenter every week, although a good idea auditions for a new host were held (Richard Digance,Noel Edmonds and Paul Merton all have being rumoured to have auditioned), Sport-Presenter Des Lynam won the role, and presented from October 2005, until the travelling distance got too much for him. He has being quoted on saying, that he is a natural Sports presenter, and even though Carol kept him sane, he would rather go back into the area he is more familiar with.
The Newest series to broadcast, is to be hosted by All-Round Entertainer, Des O'Connor who will be joined by Carol Vorderman and Susie Dent.moreless