Philip Aston was the runner-up of Series 78 and a semi-finalist in Championship of Champions XV. He was living in Bideford in Devon at the time of filming, and now lives in Chulmleigh. He is also an Apterite.
Aston made his Countdown début on 21 February 2018, scoring a century and restricting incumbent champion Jill Thwaites to the joint-lowest score for a daily champion in the 15-round era. Aston followed this up by achieving 123 points, the then highest score of the series, against Sylvia O'Brien, then achieved four more wins, all but one of which was a century. Aston's conundrum speed, in particular, was exceptional; on three occasions, he buzzed in with a correct answer on 0.5 seconds or faster. His run ended in his seventh game, however, when he encountered fellow Apterite and previous Series 69 player Zarte Siempre. Though the game saw a high-quality letters performance, Aston dramatically lost form in the last three numbers rounds, allowing Siempre to ultimately prevail 121 – 97.
With six preliminary wins and 760 points, Aston has the highest-ever preliminary point total for a non-octochamp, surpassing Series 57 contestant Steve Baines' longstanding record of 758 (despite Aston playing only seven heats compared to Baines' eight). After his defeat, Siempre said on-screen that Aston “absolutely deserves to be in the finals.” Aston ultimately returned for these finals as #7 seed; he then went on to achieve the first upset of the finals stages by overcoming #2-ranked Toby McDonald, a fellow Apterite, by just seven points in their highly anticipated quarter-final. Aston followed this victory up with a semi-final triumph over Dougie Mackay, the highest-scoring seven-time winner in Countdown history; in this game, his unravelling of the nine-letter word MONRADITE in the second letters round helped him prevail 98 – 76. This win brought Aston to the series grand final — a rematch of his heat game against Zarte Siempre.
There, in the highly anticipated match, he fought an even more fierce battle than he did before and opted for a safer numbers choice with one large in the form of a cross instead of his preferred "capital T" selections. Siempre took the lead once again when he spotted REPUSHED (which Philip discounted) in the fourth letters round but that was taken away when his declaration of superking ☓ was disallowed, allowing the score to even out at 90 – 90. Ultimately, it came down to the crucial conundum USEDLOGIC and with Siempre correctly buzzing it in 10 seconds, Aston was relegated to runner-up spot in a second defeat. However, his score of 118 proved to be the highest ever losing score in a Grand Final in the history of Countdown and if any consolation, far less painful than his original match.
Aston returned to Countdown in 2019, as one of 16 participants in Championship of Champions XV. He encountered Noel McIlvenny in the last preliminary round of the tournament. Aston raced away to 20 points up by beating McIlvenny in the first, third and fourth letters rounds. Aston’s lead was then cut to 14 ahead after having the hyphenated word bluewing ☓ disallowed. However, he maintained this lead all the way to an unsolved conundrum (which he almost got right) thanks to perfection in the numbers rounds – including the use of the '937.5 trick' in the last numbers round – to book a place in the first Quarter-final match against Jonathan Wynn. Aston succeeded his previous performance with an 18-point victory over Wynn, largely by virtue of the nine-letter word AELUROIDS, which Wynn did spot but sadly misspelt it as aleuroids ☓. Aston yet again faced Siempre, who scored a record-breaking 150 the show before, in a rare "threematch" (only the second of such an occurrence ever) in the CoC XV semi-finals. Unfortunately – on his 13th and final show – a low-key Aston fell behind yet again and couldn’t catch a break after his disallowal of maderiser ☓ put him 26 points down and his journey came to a crushing end. On the conundrum CONTIINNU, he buzzed in with 0.25 seconds left with his final answer, BYE! Aston is the first contestant ever to lose to the same player three times, and has the highest number of wins (10) without becoming octochamp, series winner OR champion of champions in the 15-round era.
Aston made his online tournament debut in the sixth edition of AptoSOS against the event's organiser Matt Morrison, where he lost his only game by four points. He later had better success in the Double Elimination Tournament in 2018, reaching the 6th round stage.
Aston is also a tournament Scrabble player. Prior to appearing on the show, he made his tournament Scrabble debut at Swindon in 2016, where he won 2 games out of 7 and finished 17th out of 18 competitors in the second division. He bettered this performance in Nailsea, finishing 6th out of 20 competitors in the second division with 4 wins out of 7 and winning a “ratings prize” of £10. His next tournament was at Nailsea again, in 2018, where he finished 9th out of 16 competitors in the second division despite a two-year absence during which he was concentrating on Countdown.
His father, Simon, won £8,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? on 19 November 2005.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Guest||Lex||Max|
|6768||21/02/2018||P||Jill Thwaites||27 – 107||Philip Aston||Alastair Stewart||Susie Dent||151|
|6769||22/02/2018||P||Philip Aston||123 – 40||Sylvia O'Brien||Alastair Stewart||Susie Dent||154|
|6770||23/02/2018||P||Philip Aston||110 – 41||John Eadie||Alastair Stewart||Susie Dent||115|
|6771||26/02/2018||P||Philip Aston||94 – 75||Mick Armstrong||Alastair Stewart||Susie Dent||135|
|6772||27/02/2018||P||Philip Aston||116 – 49||Derek Matthews||Myleene Klass||Susie Dent||137|
|6773||28/02/2018||P||Philip Aston||113 – 30||Jenny Coote||Myleene Klass||Susie Dent||126|
|6774||1/03/2018||P||Philip Aston||97 – 121||Zarte Siempre||Myleene Klass||Susie Dent||135|
|6848||15/06/2018||QF||Toby McDonald||97 – 104||Philip Aston||Helen Fospero||Susie Dent||123|
|6852||21/06/2018||SF||Philip Aston||98 – 76||Dougie Mackay||Paul Zenon||Susie Dent||132|
|6853||22/06/2018||GF||Zarte Siempre||128 – 118||Philip Aston||Paul Zenon||Susie Dent||136|
|6987||11/01/2019||CP||Philip Aston||103 – 89||Noel McIlvenny||Dr Linda Papadopoulos||Susie Dent||122|
|6988||14/01/2019||CQF||Jonathan Wynn||92 – 110||Philip Aston||Dr Linda Papadopoulos||Susie Dent||132|
|6992||18/01/2019||CSF||Philip Aston||73 – 106||Zarte Siempre||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||129|