Countdown is an British game show currently hosted by Des O'Connor, but originally hosted by Richard Whiteley. The first episode was broadcast on the 2 November 1982, and is now in its fifty-ninth series. There has also been a celebrity edition. The game exists to test mental ability: it features two players competing against one another in three word and number games. The main game is the word game, where nine letters are selected (a player chooses whether they should be consonants or vowels) and the player must find the longest English word in the sequence. There is also an arithmetic game, where players must use the numbers provided to get as close as they can to a specified target number. Finally, there is a conundrum round, where players solve an anagram and then push a buzzer. In the nine letter game and the arithmetic game, the rounds are thirty seconds long, and a now notable musical timer plays while a large analog clock ticks.
The show has been continuously co-hosted by Carol Vorderman, who selected letters and numbers for the game, and also calculates the answers to the arithmetic rounds. The show also has a lexicographer to check words, and they are often assisted by a celebrity guest that has the role of "Dictionary Dweller". The celebrity guest will also provide an anecdote, puzzle or poem as an interlude before the advertisment break.
The prize given at the end of each episode is a Countdown-branded teapot. The series winner gets a leather-bound copy of the Oxford English Dictionary.