This week, a classic grand final from Series 7, brought to my attention by Stephen Pearson of Manchester.
Number 5 seed Ian Bebbington had beaten number 1 seed Clive Freedman in the semi-final,
only to meet undefeated number 2 seed Julian Hough in the final. The game initially proved
to be very close, until Ian proved not be flummoxed by the first conundrum, and he pulled
out a lead of 17 points. Following the break and John Junkin's revelation that "A Bent Bingo
Nib" is an anagram of Ian Bebbington, Ian forged further ahead and had stretched his lead
to a seemingly unassailable 30 points with three rounds remaining. Surely Julian couldn't
pull a nine-letter word out of the bag, and when he said he did have a nine, I think everyone
must have thought he was just throwing caution to the wind with a wild guess - after all, he
had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So there was a considerable amount of surprise
when he came up with the obviously-acceptable 'CERTAINTY' and reduced Ian's lead to a mere
twelve points, but all Ian had to do was get 10 points in the numbers game and it was all over.
However, the numbers game proved to be no pushover with Ian getting within 2 of the target, but Julian
getting within 1. Only five points now separated them, and unbelievably it was time for
a crucial conundrum. Richard started the clock, the thirty seconds ticked away, and, anticlimax
of anticlimaxes, no one got it!! I don't think I can recall a more disappointing end to a
fighting comeback in any Countdown game, which was perhaps exacerbated by the tendency to
have difficult conundrums in the grand finals (still, if you can't have them then, when can you?)
Stephen asks the question as to what the biggest comeback has ever been in a game, and the
answer is - I don't know! - but rest assured that I will continue to try to dig out some
more Countdown Classics for you in the coming weeks.
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 8 Oct 2000.