Another Grand Final this week, one of the closest in the history of Countdown and the only one
ever to be decided by a sudden-death conundrum. Amazingly, after two rounds, Series 7 number
one seed Clive Freedman was trailing Series 5 champion Peter Evans by 14 points, after having two
words disallowed, one of which is now acceptable (UNTHAWED is in the Noddy). Luckily for Clive,
Peter failed to score on the first numbers game, which allowed him to catch up, and a seven point
gap ensued until Peter got the first conundrum, and led 48-31 going into the break. Round 8
saw the gap maintained as Clive and Peter offered up "a pair of panties" (Clive's words, not mine),
followed by BLITHE and BOTHIE in round 9. Round 10 proved critical as a difficult numbers game
reduced the gap to a tantalising 10 points. And so it remained when we reached the second conundrum
- Clive needed to get it to force a draw, which would be followed by a sudden-death extra round.
Just five seconds ticked past before Clive correctly solved it, and it was 81 apiece. As Murray
Walker once said, you could have "cut the atmosphere with a cricket stump", and when Clive solved
"ANGLEHOAX" in just three seconds, we were all emotionally drained. Peter said that it was lucky
that Clive had given him the 14-point lead at the beginning, but that the numbers (his usual forte)
had let him down. It only remained for Gyles Brandreth to inform us that the starfish is the only
animal that can turn its stomach inside out (Discovery Channel, eat your heart out!) and for Richard
to announce that Series 9 proper would kick off the next day with David Trace (remember him?) and
Tony Jenner in the hot seats.
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 21 Oct 2000.