Countdown - the Series 65 finals

So, with Jeff Stelling departing the show to focus on football, Nick Hewer is the new host of Countdown.  He's definitely a surprise appointment, and, watching his debut, it was strange seeing someone spiky rather than avuncular in the hotseat.  I can't say I enjoyed it, but it's early doors, so let's give the man a chance and see how he gets on.

In the mean time, let's rewind the Countdown clock somewhat, and see how I got on in virtual competition with the series 65 finalists.  I have to say I was disappointed not to make it through, especially as it was Jeff''s finale, but (as you will see) I wouldn't have progressed very far.  Nonetheless, it was fun to test myself against everyone else in the quarter-finals.

This is how I fared...

Quarter-final 1 - David Butcher (8) vs Mark Deeks (1).

Mark would have thumped me: the only times I got a longer word than him were with 'betaken' in round 3, and 'rewire' in round 12.  I did better against David, though, and am fairly sure my scores would have beaten his.  Result - Lost to No. 1, beat No. 8.

Quarter-final 2 - Nikki Roberts (7) vs Graeme Cole (2)

Graeme would have thumped me (again) even more thumpingly than Mark.  I only beat him on round 2, when his bongoes were disallowed.  Nikki would probably have defeated me too, but at least it would have been closer.  Result - Lost to No. 2, lost to No. 7.

Quarter-final 3 - Paul Keane (3) vs Dave Taylor (6)

I didn't see the polentas in round 1, but I was elegant in round 7, and managed to modernise in round 12.  By my noddy calculations, come conundrum time, I was just behind Paul (89-97), and well clear of Dave (89-68).  That's good enough for me.  Result - Lost to No. 3, beat No. 6.

Quarter-final 4 - Jayne Wisniewski (4) vs Carl Williams (5)

This was a toughie.  Carl would have beaten me thanks to his numbers games (I should really practice them some time), but I was glad to get pauses in round 7, and spot a coquina in round 9 (I knew my marine palaeoecology training would come in handy one day).  As for Jayne, it's hard to say - I think we'd have been pretty much neck and neck.  Result - Lost to No. 5, equal with No. 4.

So after playing along to all four matches, and never beating both contestants, I could relax in the knowledge that I only missed out on one more game.  From a purely personal perspective, however, I was pleased to see Graeme emerge victorious in the final.  Knowing I lost only to the eventual series champion is something to cling on to.

So, that's that for Countdown from me.  It was great fun going on the show, and I would heartily recommend sending off an application if you're interested.  If you're not quite sure, here is some (additional) insider information that might be of use:

Official guidelines

1. "we get complaints for no “pleases” and complaints for too many!"
What kind of loon writes a letter of complaint to a television quiz show about its contestants saying please too often?  Hmm, actually, don't answer that.

2. "viewers are not impressed by clever dicks."
I think you'll find they are. Countdown is a gameshow for clever dicks after all.

3. "When clapping, please just pretend to do so."
"That was a very feeble clap," texts my friend Kate, when I first appear on the show, so I explain this to her.

4. "One last thing is pronunciation of the word ‘consonant’. In the past anything from ‘continent’. ‘condiment’ to ‘constanant’ has been used, much to the irritation of millions of viewers. Please try to say ‘consonant’ as clearly as possible."
Five condiments and four bowels, please.  I think I may have gotten carried away with a fear of saying this, so I over-enunciated consonant, especially the final T.  As a consequence, Kate texts again to say I sound very posh, as I weren't speakin' proper Lestoh.

5. "The make-up department will not... give you a shampoo and set."
No wonder I looked so bedraggled.

My slightly modified rules on word eligibility:
I. "there are particular types of mass nouns that can take a plural under certain circumstances, such as venom and butane."

II. "Made-up words that sound like they should be words are also acceptable, such as beration, benefficient*, and micier."

With all this insider information, perhaps coupled with a few practice matches on Apterous, you'll be a sure-fire Countdown champ.  Who knows, you might even get a smile out of Mr Hewer? 

*I used 'benefficient' in an A-Level maths project in the early 1990s, but my teacher, Mr Atter, wouldn't have it. I still think if something is efficient and beneficial, it should be benefficient. Maybe one day it will make it into the OED.