Words and numbers based quiz presided over by Richard Whiteley from its inception in 1982 until his death in 2005. Des Lynam took over as host and after leaving at the end of 2006 he was replaced by Des O'Connor. The two contestants pick 9 letters and in 30 seconds try to make the longest word they can. There were 2 numbers based rounds done on the same principle as the letters rounds but the contestants trying to reach a random computer generated number. Hostess of the show (letter picker, number cruncher) is Carol Vorderman. The final round is the Countdown Conundrum (a nine letter anagram). Also involved are various celebrities (these have included Gyles Brandreth, Kenneth Williams, Richard Stilgoe and the like) who sit in 'dictionary corner' helping a word judge to verify the contestants words and chip in with a few of their own. The show (based on a French original called Des Chiffres et des Lettres) was the first programme to be seen on Channel Four on Tuesday 2nd November 1982 at 4.45pm, but it actually started life as a regional show called Calendar Countdown and screened in the Yorkshire region.
Des and Carol left the show at the end of 2008 and where replaced by Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley.