Celebrity Countdown (Channel 4, 1998)
A while back I shared my memories of the long-running classic game show Countdown, and over the years there have been several variations, so here’s a look at the eight-part series which featured celebrities as contestants, which was also significant as it was the first time that Countdown had been shown in primetime on Thursday evenings, and as ever it was hosted by Richard Whiteley alongside Carol Vorderman.
There were a few changes made to Celebrity Countdown from the regular afternoon edition. First of all the show had a different title sequence which I thought was much better than the bizarre whirring cogs and floating metronomes one that was being used at the time. There was also a dance remix of the famous theme which I liked too, and the studio was given a sparklier background. There was also a nice camera swoop at the start.
It wasn’t until about a decade into Countdown‘s run that Richard began to interact more with Carol and the show became a little more lighthearted, so it was clear that they were both looking forward to this special series. In total 16 famous contestants took the challenge over the series including Graeme Garden and future host Des Lynam. Also appearing with various celebrities in Dictionary Corner was lexicographer Susie Dent who is still with the show.
The show was half-an-hour long just like regular Countdown still was at the time, but there were seven rounds played instead of the usual nine to fit in more interaction between the contestants and the presenters, and also the numbers and letters were white on purple instead of blue which again I felt looked better, and it was great seeing the stars tackle all the usual rounds including the conundrum.
Although Celebrity Countdown was an interesting variation on the show, it only ran for one series in 1998 before returning to its regular daytime slot, but it was good seeing this era of the show having its moment in the spotlight. However, in more recent years there has been the hour-long comedy variation 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown which has been shown regularly in primetime on Friday evenings which shows that there’s still some life in the format yet.