This week, the third ever game to feature a score of 80 or above. Previously, only Stephen Balment (83) and Harvey Freeman (82) had achieved this. Mike Whiteoak from Mansfield had already won four matches when he met Derek "Eddie" Edwards from Oakham, and had racked up scores of 79, 43, 59 and 42.
The game started evenly, in fact it was not until Round 6 that the deadlock was resolved. In Round 1, both players scored 8, and so did Dictionary Corner with BARITONE. An interesting word from Derek in the second letters game - BEGUM, meaning a Muslim woman of high rank. Round 3 saw both contestants score 6, although they could have had 7 for STONIER or ORIENTS. The numbers game was easy-peasy and by the break it was 29 apiece.
A little chat from celebrity guest Diane Solomon and we were into Round 5. Both contestants offered 6, and Dictionary Corner could only match it with BROADS. It was Round 6 that changed the face of the game and was to make a major contribution to Mike's final score. After 30 seconds of looking at 'MNRIEONST', Derek could only repeat the STONIER offered by Dictionary Corner in Round 3, while Mike scaled the heights to offer the fantastic INNERMOST. Of course it wasn't Mike's game for certain yet, but Derek only managed to match Mike's scores in the remaining letters and numbers games, and it turned out 52-70 with the conundrum to go. It took nine seconds for Mr Whiteoak to offer IMPARTING, and 80 points were his.
Mike was defeated by Countdown favourite Nita Marr in his next game, but he did return in the quarter-finals,
eventually being knocked out by Kevin Nelson. He also appeared in Countdown Masters in 1990, being beaten
convincingly by Series 15 semi-finalist Gavin Rogers.
This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 14 Jan 2001.