IT is one of those shows we have all watched at some point in our lives, celebrating its 40th year on TV in 2022, but Countdown is making headline news for reasons other than its anniversary.


It’s 40 this year?

The first episode was in fact the first programme to air on Channel 4 back on November 2, 1982. Since then, nearly 90 series have been broadcast, with more than 7,000 episodes making Countdown one of the longest-running game shows in the world.


So what’s going on?

Host Anne Robinson has announced that after a year in the hot-seat, she is departing, saying initially that she "had a blast hosting this wonderful show" but "stayed longer than I signed up for", adding: "Now it is time for an older woman to take the reins." The 77-year-old former host of The Weakest Link went on to say that she has "grandchildren and a large garden and a home in New York, all deserving more of my attention”.



Rumours abounded of a rift between her and co-stars, mathematician Rachel Riley and lexicographer Susie Dent, with reports Ms Robinson requested Ms Riley’s microphone was turned off as she found her ‘too loud’ while sharing small talk with contestants.


Did she respond?

The host said: "I'm not saying I would go on holiday with Rachel Riley, but she is brilliant. Absolutely honestly, I do admire her – she is really, really good at what she does, as is Susie Dent.” She added: “She is noisy, yes she and Susie both are, they are a formidable pair those two. But there isn't a question of my going because of a rift, that's nonsense.”


It means…?

Ms Dent is now the longest-serving member of the show's current on-screen team, having first appeared back in 1992, making more than 2,500 appearances.


Money talks?

It emerged earlier this week that Channel 4 had offered Ms Robinson a pay rise but only if she joined the staff. The Sun said that the host - worth around £50 million - said: "To suggest I go PAYE is a bit like asking Philip Green or Richard Branson to join the company payroll. I wasn't interested in any offer on that basis."


What happens now?

Ms Robinson will appear in episodes up until the summer, with the hunt now on for a replacement.


Who is in the running?

Richard Osman was the front-runner, but ruled himself out, saying on Twitter that he had departed Pointless “because I have no time”. Bookmakers have now placed Ms Riley and Carol Vorderman as favourites, with the latter tweeting it “would be an honour” to return to the show she featured on as the maths whizz for 26 years.


Big shoes to fill?

Ms Robinson is the first female host of the show, with Countdown first presented by the Richard Whiteley, before Des O’Connor took over for a year and was replaced by Jeff Stelling and Nick Hewer.