Richard Whiteley R.I.P.
Britain is mourning the early death of Richard Whiteley
who hosted a game show, Countdown
Normally I wouldn't comment but what is particularly sad is that this wasn't a show of instant laughs or gratification. In fact, it was never broadcast in peak viewing hours so the audience were pensioners, students, the unemployed and layabouts. Like me. The majority of those tuned in weren't in fact glued to their screens.
Countdown's premise is/was simple: try to make the longest word from nine letters, vowels and consonants, selected by contestants. For the 30-second countdown the c.4 million viewrers would try to 'beat' the contestants. I often could.
Then there was a round involving number manipulation. I rarely could so I would gaze at Carol Vorderman
who was a new kind of game show hostess, not only looking attractive but revealing her intellectual ability by carrying out fast and accurate mathematical calculations as part of the game.
That Countdown had run every weekday since being the first programme broadcast by Channel 4 on November 2nd, 1982 says much about British TV's quality. Both Richard and Carol graduated from Cambridge University so, and in spite of the simplicity of the show's concept, those of us who scheduled our days around its pre-evening slot were able to feel smug if our points total nearly reached those of the contestants.
Intellectual gamesmanship as it were.