Game Show Memories – The Countdown Hosts List (Part 1).

Following on from the list of the Top 50 people who have made the most appearances in Countdown‘s Dictionary Corner which was rather well received, I thought I would also do a list featuring all of the hosts and co-hosts that there have been over the years, going all the way back to the unaired pilots in 1981. Only appearances as host or co-host will be included, although if they did also appear in Dictionary Corner, that will be noted. This list is only for the main afternoon edition, anyone who has only hosted the 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown spin-off will not be featured. I have also decided not to feature people who only appeared as lexicographers, as there isn’t a huge amount of information out there about them. I make it that there have been 27 people who have hosted or co-hosted Countdown, part one will feature positions 27-11.

27th. William G Stewart (1 appearance, 1997). William first found fame in TV as a director and producer. He became a host in 1988 when Fifteen-To-One launched, which was soon shown before Countdown, resulting in a popular daytime game show double. He hosted the 1997 Christmas special, when Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman were the contestants. He also hosted a special to celebrate the 2,000th edition.

26th. Angela Garbut (2 appearances, 1981). Angela was the “vital statistician” (the fancy term for the co-host who solved the numbers rounds) in the two unaired pilots. A blackboard was used to write the solutions.

25th. Jenny Eclair (4 appearances, 2022). Jenny has made 45 appearances in Dictionary Corner, going back to 2012. She was a last-minute stand-in host when the other last-minute stand-in host Les Dennis was unavailable. If that makes sense.

=21st. Floella Benjamin (5 appearances, 2022). As part of the 40th Anniversary celebrations, four people hosted for one week, some of them having no previous association with Countdown. One of them was Floella, who is best-known as a children’s TV host of several shows including Play School.

=21st. Richard Coles (5 appearances, 2022). Richard had made ten appearances in Dictionary Corner, before he became another one-week host for the anniversary. He had previously found fame in the 80s as a part of the group The Communards alongside Jimmy Somerville, whose cover of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” was a chart-topper, and the biggest-selling single in the UK in 1986. He then went on to become a vicar and a regular face on TV.

=21st. Angela O’Dougherty (5 appearances, 1983). Angela was a stand-in for Cathy Hytner for one week at the end of the second series.

=21st. Moira Stuart (5 appearances, 2022). Moira is best-known as a BBC news host. She was another one-week host for the anniversary, having previously never appeared.

20th. Trevor McDonald (6 appearances, 2021-2022). Trevor is the news host who worked for ITN for several years. He hosted a special edition, and he was then invited back as another one-week host for the anniversary.

19th. Denise McFarland-Cruickshanks (7 appearances, 1982). Denise was the vital statistician in the Calendar Countdown series.

18th. Les Dennis (8 appearances, 2022). Les is known for being a comedian, actor, and the host of various game shows, including Family Fortunes for 15 years. He made five appearances in Dictionary Corner in 2011, and he was a last-minute stand-in for Colin Murray who was unavailable.

17th. Robena Sharp (9 appearances, 1981-1982). Robena put the numbers on the board in the unaired pilots and Calendar Countdown series. She also selected the target, which was a rather low-tech one-armed bandit machine, before the shinier CECIL came along.

16th. Linda Barratt (41 appearances, 1982-1983). Believe it or not, in the first couple of series, there were two vital statisticians, who appeared in alternate editions. And while Carol Vorderman would find fame and appear for many years, Linda was barely ever seen again.

15th. Lucy Summers (56 appearances, 1989). Lucy put the letters and numbers on the board for one series, before it was decided to make Carol Vorderman the only co-host.

14th. Anne-Marie Imafidon (61 appearances, 2021-2022). Anne-Marie was the co-host for the special, and then she returned when Rachel Riley was away on maternity leave.

13th. Beverley Isherwood (117 appearances, 1982-1983). Looking back now, it is remarkable how many young female co-hosts Countdown used to have, up to four in some series, an idea that was more suited to game shows like 3-2-1 or The Price Is Right. Beverley put the numbers on the board and pressed CECIL’s button, and that was about it.

12th. Colin Murray (125+ appearances, 2020-present). Colin has been a TV and radio host, and he has made 60 appearances in Dictionary Corner, going back to 2009. He was first the stand-in host when Nick Hewer was unavailable, and he also took part in a celebrity special, which he won. He is still the stand-in host, although he is the favourite to be given the job full time. He almost seems to be playing the game along with the contestants, rather than being impartial, always fiddling with pieces of paper, and seemingly trying to guess what their words will be. But he’s definitely brought a lot of enthusiasm to proceedings.

11th. Karen Loughlin (168 appearances, 1987-1988). Karen looked after the letters and numbers following Cathy Hytner’s departure.

Find out who the Top Ten are in part two…


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