Countdown 2000 (Channel 4, 1997)
Having looked back at many variations of the classic Channel 4 game show Countdown… it’s time to review yet another one. In 1997 Countdown had been going for 15 years and celebrated reaching its 2,000th edition with a special show (although it is now not far off its 7,000th edition, and by some distance it holds the record for the most editions of a UK game show, with over twice as many as the show in second place which I’m fairly sure is Channel 4’s Deal Or No Deal with 3,001).
Countdown 2000 came from the Greenwood Theatre in London in front of a live studio audience and was hosted by Fifteen-To-One‘s William G Stewart (who also hosted the 1997 Christmas special). This edition was a little like This Is Your Life as Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman were joined on stage by various celebrities and fans who shared their memories of the show (coincidentally, Richard and Carol were both subjects on BBC1’s This Is Your Life in 1997, the year of this show).
Highlights included a look at the Calendar Countdown series that was shown on ITV only in the Yorkshire region in 1982 (which evolved from the 1981 unaired pilot that I also reviewed recently) which led to the show being picked up Channel 4, some memories of the earliest series where along with Carol, Richard had so many co-hosts it almost came across more like The Price Is Right (Carol didn’t become the sole co-host until 1989), and also some of the most famous Dictionary Corner dwellers including Gyles Brandreth and his jumpers.
There was also a look back at some of the most successful contestants and the famous parody on BBC2’s A Bit Of Fry And Laurie. The show ended with Denis Norden (of ITV’s It’ll Be Alright On The Night fame) taking a look back at some of the best cock-ups on the show, including the time when Richard accidentally called the 1,500th edition “the 15,000th”, said that the next series coming in 1996 would be “in 1966”, and when he almost fell asleep during a numbers game.
This was an enjoyable edition which really did show how fondly thought-of this long-running game show is, although a lot has changed in the 20+ years since, and there is still plenty to explore. When Countdown reached its 3,000th edition in 2001, there was another special made looking back at the history of the show called 3000 And Counting and I might review that soon too.