When good TV goes bad: why the number's up for Countdown

Without the late Richard Whiteley or Carol Vorderman, the quiz has become a hunched, wan shadow of its glorious former self

To paraphrase Shakespeare, some achieve the jumping of the shark, others have the jumping of the shark thrust upon them. To explain: it would be a tad unfair to blame the demise of Countdown on the death of Richard Whiteley; it’s not as if the show’s producers made an executive decision to have him rubbed out to cut costs. But it would also be disingenuous not to acknowledge the show’s painful decline since his passing, a decline during which the shark has been vaulted time and again.

Shark No 1: the show’s inability to settle on a decent replacement for Whiteley. Warm, suave, ladies-of-a-certain-age’s man Des Lynam seemed the perfect successor, but when it became apparent that neither he (based in Worthing) nor the
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Monday’s best TV – The Big Fat Quiz of Everything; My Sheepdog and Me

  • The Guardian - TV News
A strong celebrity lineup gets Jimmy Carr’s history quiz off to a good start; and a heartwarming canine conundrum. Plus, deadly altercations involving a single punch

Former Countdown host Jeff Stelling isn’t going to worry Rachel Riley and co with this bog-standard quizzer. People who aren’t very good at answering general knowledge questions have chosen to be contestants anyway; Stelling hurls medium-to-easy teasers at them that begin or end with a given letter. It all builds to a tilt at a rollover jackpot, and it will be thrilling when someone wins it, but the format allows the big prize to move out of reach much too early. Jack Seale

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Matt Le Tissier wins on Countdown: Twitter reacts with shock that a footballer has a brain

Matt Le Tissier was on Countdown today (September 30), and he surprised a lot of people by winning with an impressive 105 points.

He was joined by fellow ex-footballer Graeme Le Saux, who was in Dictionary Corner.

Here's a selection of some of the online bafflement that accompanied the appearances:

So, Matt Le Tissier was a contestant on @C4Countdown today. And Graeme Le Saux was in Dictionary Corner #noreally

Paul Jones (@Jonesvision) September 30, 2015

Watching Matt Le Tissier as a contestant on Countdown is like watching Robbie Savage being asked to conduct an orchestra. Really odd.

Joe Taylor (@jpttaylor) September 30, 2015

Wow Matt Le Tissier is a contestant on Countdown today... actual Matt Le Tissier, actual contestant, actual Countdown

— Ruth John (@Rumyra) September 30, 2015

Matt Le Tissier is on countdown beating some fat nerd for anyone who's arsed

— Mescalèro Moore (@SMooron) September 30, 2015

Turns out Matt Le Tissier is an excellent #Countdown player.
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Jeff Stelling – McClaren Will “Please Toon Army With Fast-Paced Football”


Steve McClaren will “please the Toon Army” by playing an “exciting, fast-paced” brand of attacking football with Newcastle United, believes Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling.

The Soccer Saturday host, who hails from the North East and is a huge Hartlepool United fan, admits to having “a lot of time” for ex-England boss McClaren and predicts he will do “okay” with the Magpies this year.

Newcastle began their 2015-16 Barclays Premier League campaign with an exciting 2-2 home draw against Southampton on Sunday and, although they looked good going forward, the same old defensive frailties continued to plague the Magpies.

Daniel Hambury/Empics Sport

But, while raising awareness of prostate cancer in the UK, Stelling told The Chronicle:

“I’ve got a lot of time for Steve McClaren. He did brilliantly abroad again.

“He’s been given a little bit of money to spend (at Newcastle), which is a big plus point.
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Coronation Street and Strictly Come Dancing win at Tric Awards 2015

Coronation Street and Strictly Come Dancing have both picked up prizes at the Television and Radio Industries Club (Tric) Awards 2015.

The ITV soap picked up the TV Soap of the Year prize ahead of rivals EastEnders and Hollyoaks, while Strictly triumphed over The Voice UK and Britain's Got Talent in the Reality Programme category.

EastEnders' Danny Dyer won the Soap Personality prize, while Gogglebox won Entertainment Programme, and Downton Abbey was named HD Drama Programme of the Year.

Ant and Dec beat Keith Lemon and Graham Norton to win TV Personality of the Year, and Silent Witness won Crime Programme of the Year.

Meanwhile, Match of the Day was the recipient of this year's Tric Special Award.

Take a look at the full winners' list below:

HD Sports Programme

A Question of Sport - Winner

BBC Formula 1

Soccer Saturday

Digital Radio Personality

Chris Evans - Winner

Fearne Cotton

Nicky Campbell
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Soccer Saturday studio evacuated after fire alarm goes off

The Soccer Saturday team were forced to evacuate the studio after a fire alarm went off during this morning's (January 17) live broadcast.

Sky Sports viewers were without Jeff Stelling and the show's pundits for nearly 30 minutes while the fire brigade were called to investigate.

The Soccer Saturday team explained the situation on Twitter, before host Jeff Stelling returned to the studio wearing a fire helmet.

Sorry folks, the Soccer Saturday team have had to evacuate the studio following a fire alarm. Jeff is currently trying to put the fire out!

— Soccer Saturday (@SoccerSaturday) January 17, 2015

"It's pretty warm in here," the presenter joked.

"There's been a fire alarm going off and we've all had to evacuate the building, but it's ok now, I sorted it out."
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Countdown receives Guinness World Record for 6,000th show

Countdown celebrates its 6,000th show today (September 5) by receiving an award from Guinness World Records.

The Channel 4 programme has aired the most series for a TV game show, and is awarded the prize from an official Guinness World Records adjudicator.

Countdown was the first ever show broadcast on Channel 4 when it launched in November 1982, and has gone on to air 70 series.

Presenter Nick Hewer said: "It is a huge honour to front Countdown, now recognised by Guinness World Records for its longevity.

"Having 32 years under its belt, I am only a novice, coming up to three years on the show. But, I and the whole team, am incredibly proud to be part of such a durable and intelligent format that relies on intellect rather than prize money."

Rachel Riley added: "I'm proud to be part of such a great show that not only has its place in British psyche
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5 Things We’ve Learnt From Sunderland’s Friendlies So Far

For some, the summer is a thing of beauty; long days of sunshine, trips to the beach, and walks in the park. But for football fans, this time of year is a living hell as we eagerly await the return of Jeff Stelling and Dan Walker and some sense of normality to return to our otherwise dark and uneventful lives.

As it stand, we are currently stuck in the middle of 34 long and uninspiring days between the World Cup Final ending, and the start of the Barclays Premier League season on Saturday 16th August, and fans are becoming increasingly desperate for a football fix.

Some will choose to while those 816 hours down by going to festivals, maybe taking a little holiday, or perhaps sticking that well worn out DVD of that famous 3-0 victory in the player just one more time and reminiscing. Others however, pour over the
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Countdown is 70: three cheers for the nation's favourite comfort blanket

The show – now in its 70th series – has been a fixture on Channel 4 from the very start, and has survived any number of crises, revamps and departures. Is it destined to go on for ever?

"Anyone who has ever been unemployed loves Countdown." So declared Kevin Bridges on the most recent episode of 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, the flippant comedic spin-off from Channel 4's words-and-numbers warhorse. It's true: Countdown occupies a unique place in the UK's psyche: part-afternoon mindboggler, part comfort blanket. It's alphabet soup for the soul. Never mind the consonants – the show has been a national constant since that fateful November 1982 teatime when Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman launched C4 in a flurry of beige.

Monday's episode, the first of 2014, was also the starting gun for the 70th series, yet another milestone for a gameshow so long in the tooth it cannot stop racking them up.
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Win Soccer Saturday: Cheers, Jeers and Tears on DVD

  • HeyUGuys
To mark the release of Soccer Saturday: Cheers, Jeers and Tears on November 11th we’ve been given 3 copies to give away on DVD.

From Anchor Bay UK, just in time for Christmas, comes the first ever DVD from the UK’s best loved football show – Soccer Saturday; Cheers, Jeers and Tears, on DVD 11th November.

Revel in 20 years of the show’s funniest football banter Plus footage produced exclusively for this DVD. All of the golden moments have been painstakingly brought together and are presented by the legend himself – Jeff Stelling.

Join in all the fun with Jeff, Kammy and the rest of the team. The ultimate gift for any self-respecting football fan And the ultimate stocking filler.

Please note: This competition is open to UK residents only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Small Print

Open to UK residents only The competition will close 11th November at 23.59 GMT The winner
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BT Sport kicks off the season with stars, glamour, Ray Stubbs and a toaster

It was the first day for the newest team in the Premier League and no expense was spared – Liverpool v Stoke seemed like the Fa Cup Final

Blokes' weekends in Britain's parallel universe are full of half-remembered chores and pastimes: a perfunctory breakfast before taking the lad to his football. Afterwards, there could be a trip to Tesco followed perhaps by an outing to see the local United, City or Rovers. On Sunday it might still be church, the in-laws and Ikea.

In the real world, meanwhile, the weekend has become a televised football theme park, starting early on Saturday and continuing, unabated, until the early hours of Monday. And so, having rolled up and paid my money for a BT Sport subscription on top of my Sky package, I took part in the birth of the new world at 6am yesterday.

BT is the latest challenger to enter the
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The new Sky Sports advert

The screen is swarming with Beckhams, all distracted from thoughts like: "I'm David Beckham, why am I sitting in a cafe on my own eating a pie?"

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The house playing David Beckham's home in this advert is no Beckingham Palace. But apparently, since he got his Sky Sports subscription, the ex-footballer has been experiencing the world so entirely through small screens he's barely noticed his post-retirement lifestyle downgrade. With no job to go to, David's up late. Numbed by the comforting parallel realm of Sky Sports on his phone, he's unperturbed by his shrunken, detritus-filled kitchen – until a stray yoghurt pot forces him to relinquish the safe, organised world of sporting news. Not to worry: quick as a flash another David is on the scene, picking up the phone-baton in this slack-jawed screen-watching relay. Sky Sports has imagined a David Beckham for every occasion,
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Sky Sports 1 goes free for first day of Premier League season

Sky Sports 1 will be made available for free on the first day of the 2013/14 Premier League football season.

On Saturday, August 17, the channel will replace Sky 2 (on Sky and other pay TV services) and Pick TV (on Freeview and YouView).

> Jamie Carragher interview: 'Steven Gerrard won't get special treatment'

Managing director of Sky Sports Barney Francis said: "It's our biggest ever season of Premier League football and we're inviting every home in Britain to enjoy the opening day.

"All fans can join the action as we launch our new Saturday schedule for the most eagerly awaited Premier League season in years."

Pundit Jamie Redknapp added: "This is a brilliant way for everyone to follow the action from the first day of the Premier League season with Sky Sports."

The announcement marks the relaunch of the Sky Sports weekend - which includes Sky's 5.30pm Saturday evening Premier League fixture as part of Saturday Night Football.
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MasterChef? Delia Smith should try watching Man v Food

Delia has criticised MasterChef for making food into 'theatre' – but what would she think about the new breed of trashy, macho food TV?

There are two very different types of food television right now. There are the shows everyone from the laziest sports science student to your nan knows and watches. The terrestrial, safe, twee, scallops'n'cauliflower puree world of MasterChef, the Hairy Bikers and Great British Bake Off. They love "I wish my Mum were here to see this" narratives. The food they serve up is the kind of thing you'd see at a posh wedding or golf-course hotel. It's nice. Such programmes have been accused of forgetting the real essence of cooking TV, and even the home baking matriarch herself, Delia Smith, has waded in, grumbling that "nobody teaches people how to cook any more".

That might be true, Delia, but have you seen Man v Food? It barely
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Jeff Stelling, Ashley Walters and Paul Whitehouse: Bafta TV awards 2013

Three big stars of the small screen reveal their television secrets

Jeff Stelling: the voice of reason

Jeff Stelling can sum up his Soccer Saturday show in three words: "Five blokes gossiping." Or in four: "The male Loose Women." The former Countdown host points out that he has been watching football with his "mates" for the last 20 years, and knows how lucky he is. "It's a strange concept," he says, "and I was the first to say it wouldn't work."

He believes the secret to his longevity is supporting Hartlepool ("the fans pity me"), but few can reel off football stats like Stelling, not to mention anchoring six hours of live TV every week. How does he wind down at the end of a shift? "I go home and watch telly with the kids. It could be Harry Hill's TV Burp, The Voice, you name it. If my wife
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Nick Hewer laughs off 'Countdown' axe rumours

Nick Hewer made light of reports that Countdown might be axed in the near future at today's (April 30) Apprentice launch in London.

Hewer, who took over as host of the long-running Channel 4 quiz show last year, actually made a joke to journalists when asked about rumours that the show was coming to an end.

"I've got a contract right through until 2014. So to be honest with you, I'd be sad... but I'd be in the money," he said.

Hewer's Apprentice co-star Lord Sugar laughed: "That's 25 years of training [from me]."

Hewer described Countdown as a "great institution" when he took over the helm from Jeff Stelling last year.

"It's not unlike the monarchy or the National Health Service, or any other great institution that this country has come to depend on in a way," he told Digital Spy.

"It's a punctuation mark in the stability of British society. How's that for a grandiose quote?
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Latest scores come a cropper as Sky and BBC suffer technical breakdown

• Videprinter breaks down at half-time

• Sky and BBC blame Press Association

A half-time score of Clyde 1 Nairn County 2 does not always live long in the memory, but football fans trying to keep up with their team's scores were forced to stare at it for more than an hour when the videprinter that serves Sky's Soccer Saturday and the BBC's Final Score broke down at half-time. Service did not resume before full time in the 3pm kick-offs, over an hour later.

The videprinter has been a major part of British Saturday afternoons for decades, but where there is usually a steady stream of goals, half times, sendings-off and full times, viewers were left scratching their heads and relying chiefly on updates from grounds where the channels had their own reporters.

The affected programmes were helmed by Mark Chapman on BBC1 and Jeff Stelling on Sky. Stelling apologised for the lack of
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TV review: UEFA Champions League Final: Bayern Munich v Chelsea

Adrian Chiles on ITV is like watching with a comedy uncle. But Sky has Jeff Stelling

Did any other guys out there have the same conversation with the missus? Along the lines of: "I know I said it was the end of the football season, but that was the league and this is the Champions League." Bet you haven't even told her about Euro 2012 yet, have you? Yes, I know loads of women are into football, but there are loads who aren't as well. Including the one glaring murderously at me.

This is it then, UEFA Champions League Final: Bayern Munich v Chelsea (ITV1). ITV means it's Adrian Chiles in charge at Munich's Allianz Arena: "a cathedral to football," he calls it. (Later, commentator Clive Tyldesley describes it as "a spaceship of a stadium", which is better.)

There's some time before kick-off – to be filled with the usual rousing montages,
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What happens when successful TV shows outlive their creators and stars?

As 56 Up director Michael Apted prepares to hand over the baton, which shows have outshone their original formats

There's a tradition in sport known as "retiring the shirt", in which the squad number worn by a particularly influential player is taken out of circulation: in American basketball, the vest in question will sometimes be symbolically raised into the rafters above the court. A similar issue arises in TV when a format becomes connected with particular personnel and the dilemma is represented twice in next week's schedules.

While promoting the return of 56 Up (Monday, 9pm, ITV1), director Michael Apted showed commendable lack of ego and squeamishness, in addressing a sensitive technical question.

As the now almost 50-year-old project was intended to follow a group of children through their lives and Apted was three times the age of his subjects at the beginning, a majority of the participants are likely to outlive him.
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Apprentice Margaret Mountford to reunite with Nick Hewer on Countdown

Apprentice star Margaret Mountford will be reunited with Nick Hewer on Channel 4's Countdown, it has been confirmed. Hewer and Mountford became cult TV stars after working together for five years as Lord Alan Sugar's "eyes and ears" on The Apprentice. However, Mountford departed the show after the fifth series to focus on her Ph.D studies at University College London. The duo will be reunited on the daytime quiz this weekend, when Mountford films a number of episodes as a guest in Dictionary Corner. Hewer took over from Jeff Stelling as the host of Countdown earlier this year. Writing about the news on Twitter, Hewer said: "Glad tidings! Margaret has agreed (more)
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »
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