Anne Robinson to be the new host of Countdown

Anne Robinson has said she is “beyond thrilled” to become the new host of Countdown, the long-running Channel 4 daytime show. Robinson, best known for stints presenting Watchdog and The Weakest Link on the BBC, will become the show’s sixth host in its 39-year-history.

Robinson will be the programme’s first female host since it began in 1982 at the launch of the channel. She follows in the footsteps of the original presenter, Richard Whiteley, who hosted the show until his death in 2005, Des Lynam, Des O’Connor, Jeff Stelling and Nick Hewer. Robinson will join Susie Dent, in dictionary corner, and Rachel Riley on numbers.

Anne Robinson is unveiled as the first female host of Countdown.
Anne Robinson is unveiled as the first female host of Countdown. Photograph: Channel 4/PA

“I am beyond thrilled to be joining Countdown,” said Robinson after the move was announced live on the Steph’s Packed Lunch programme on Monday afternoon. “The show is almost as old as I am and just as historic. I am particularly excited to be working alongside the show’s two other formidable women. Worryingly, Susie and Rachel are not only very smart but younger, prettier and thinner than me. Sadly, there’s no time for another face lift so I’ll have make do with this old one.

“I am a crossword nut so the Countdown conundrums I can make sense of. But the adding up and taking away – I can’t go much further than working out the fee once my agent takes his cut.”

This will not be Robinson’s first appearance on the show – which has a different celebrity guest in dictionary corner each week, a position she occupied in 1987. “I was so in awe of the great Richard Whiteley. I think I only said good afternoon and goodbye. Who thought I’d have the chance to follow in his giant footsteps?”

Robinson enjoyed huge success with The Weakest Link, a quiz show that ran for 12 series on BBC Two. She also presented the US version.

In 2018, she was criticised for comments she made about workplace harassment in a Radio Times interview. “Workplaces are politically and sexually treacherous and I’m afraid women do have to accept that. You have a choice. Do I get off the train and spend my life complaining and making a fuss or do I stay on the train and make sure it never happens to me again? I always chose the latter but maybe I’m just a different sort of warrior,” she told the magazine.

Countdown was a huge success for Channel 4 last year with its highest ratings since 2013, averaging 449,000 viewers an episode.

Peter Gwyn, the show’s executive producer, said he was sure Robinson would build on that success. “This is a very exciting moment in Countdown’s long history, and I know viewers will relish Anne’s unique style at the helm of this much-loved institution,” he added.


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