I have always loved watching Countdown!
I used to rush home from school in the days of Carol Vorderman and Richard Whiteley and plonk myself in-front of the TV in time for 4:30 to see which jacket the latter was wearing that day (and which dress the former was wearing that day). Then Richard died and things got a bit touch and go for a while. Countdown was in limbo, with its various celebrity replacements named Des; and Carol inevitably teetered on the verge of quitting at any given moment.
It seems to have stabilized itself into a new era now though, with Rachel Riley and Nick Hewer politely conversing across the studio, (albeit lacking the banter of Carol and Richard).
I enjoy 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown as well – despite the fact that every time Jimmy Carr omits a laugh my internal organs literally start to attack one another. I like how it’s basically Countdown with swearing and innuendo and contestants that actually appear to have a personality. But I have one major issue with it (aside from Carr’s laughter/voice/teeth/mouth/hair/face).
Literally the first third of an episode is taken up introducing who the contestants, team captains and dictionary corner people are that day. Time it – I promise you it lasts about 20 minutes of the hour-long episode.
Now, I know that its all comedic and light-hearted but really – 20 minutes?
The team captains are the same people every week, so I don’t really see the need to dwell so lengthily on them. The guests might need the extra attention as they’re one-off additions but how long do we really need to hear about Rob Beckett’s massive teeth?
Each week, Jimmy asks the teams if they have a mascot. I’m not sure that this portion of the show hasn’t run its course now. In the last episode I watched, Cariad Lloyd’s mascot was a framed photograph of David Bowie. Was this filmed before his death or after it? Either way you could cut the tension in the studio with a knife. But at least that photograph sort of resembled a mascot-type item. Jon Richardson’s “mascot” was that every time it was his turn to play the game, he’d pitch an idea for a new TV show. Am I missing something there? Sean Lock’s was to mix a cocktail of 26 liquids each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. Whilst this was entertaining, it was more of a skit than a representational totem to encourage good fortune.
So that portion of the show needs to be nixed, as does the laborious slog we have to sit through while Jimmy Carr works his way around the studio, from left to right, finally landing on Rachel Riley who most probably won’t say anything funny, leading to a major anti-climax.
I am always practically salivating in anticipation for the letters round. Although something will inevitably happen during the first selection of letters to slow things down further. They’ll spell out the word F.L.A.P for example and send Jimmy into a breathless fit of hysterics resembling a hyperventilating walrus.