On the 4th of November 2014 I appeared on the Channel 4 program Countdown as a contestant. I have been a huge fan of the show for as long as I can remember and I had an amazing time there. I have since been back in the audience on numerous occasions.
I hope to be able to link a video of the show, however I haven’t worked out how to do this yet. The best I can do for now is to link the Countdown Wiki which gives details of all the rounds, scoring etc.
I got off to a bad start, losing the first 2 letters games by just one letter. Despite spotting a perfectly good 7 letter word (POINTED) in the first round my opponent spotted the excellent DOWNTIME. However I managed to solve the first numbers game to pull back. My strength is definitely the numbers rather than the letters and it was clear that my opponent strongly favoured the letters.
The next 3 rounds followed exactly the same pattern, although I didn’t manage to solve the numbers game this was largely because of my strategy of choosing 6 small numbers instead of making it easier by selecting 1 or 2 large numbers. With hindsight this cost me some points, although who knows how easy or difficult it would have been with a different selection. Despite my opponent declaring closer to the target than me she had fortunately (for me) used one of the numbers twice. The most notable of the words rounds saw Dictionary expert Susie Dent disallow my word HINDI (it’s capitalised) despite going on to talk about a selection of Hindi words in her Origins of Words section. To be honest, I’m still a little bitter about this!
I was then able to equalise after the next 3 rounds, matching my opponent on the words rounds and solving the numbers game. I then took the lead for the first time after the next letters game, we both saw the same word but my opponent decided to add an s to the end despite there not being an s in the selection.
I then fell back behind in the next round in an echo of the first round, I managed a pretty good 7 letter word (HARRIES) but my opponent had seen the excellent (HOARIEST) for 8. I then had the first of my panic moments, failing to see any word at all during most of the 30 seconds and only spotting the word FASTEN at the last moment. Unfortunately there was an E and a D remaining and my opponent had declared FASTENED. Oops…
We matched each other during the final letters round and I was trailing by 10 points, however I hoped to recover this on the final numbers round. I chose 6 small numbers and the target was fairly small, so good chances to solve it and catch up.
I did indeed solve it within the first few seconds, however as the rest of the 30 seconds passed by I decided just to check that what I’d done was correct. Don’t want to look stupid on national TV after all! After checking, I decided that I had indeed miscalculated and spent the rest of the time in a panic trying to work out another solution. Just as time was running out, I thought I had done it.
My opponent was nowhere near so it fell to me to show how I’d done it, and I realised that my way just didn’t work and so had to give up. So much for my plan of not looking stupid! Rachel Riley, the numbers expert, then proceeded to show how it was done, exactly the same method I’d worked out in those first few seconds! How annoying…
So it then came down to the conundrum, I was still 10 points behind and needed to win this round to catch up and force a tie-break. The letters were revealed (NEWTSALAD) However neither of us managed to work out the solution, which was WASTELAND.
Looking back, it was a pretty entertaining show (in my biased opinion) and I’m very glad that I took part. I still love the show although it would have been nice to have a winners teapot to remember it by as well. It’s certainly a lot harder in the studio than at home!