Stephen Read was an octochamp in and the champion of Series 76. He is also an Apterite. He is the 75th member of the 800 club since the show introduced the 15-round format in 2001, and is renowned for his quirky nature and strong letters round performances.
In April 2016, he attended his first Co-event - Countdown in Leeds 2016 - followed up in May 2016 by his attendance at Countdown in King's Lynn 2016, which he won. He beat Series 69 champion Callum Todd in the final on a tie-break conundrum, having been 20 points adrift earlier in the game, spotting the low-probability 6 DOODAD in the process. He also won Countdown in Birmingham 2016 and reached the final of Countdown in Huddersfield 2016, meaning he either won or was runner-up in three of his first four Co-events. He was awarded FOCAL's 'Rookie of the Year' prize for 2016.
After making a strong impression in the FOCAL circuit, he made his televised debut on 5 May 2017 and went on to score a century in all his heat games (only the 15th contestant to do so) to top the series seed table with an octochamp total of 915. He proved to be very strong in the letters rounds, with impressive findings such as DRAGONET, NOTEPADS, MALONATE and PRESOAKED beating the contestants. He also scored 308 points in 32 numbers games, the second-highest score from numbers rounds alone in an octorun after Dylan Taylor’s 311.
Read returned for the finals in June as #1 seed. In his quarter-final, he prevailed over #8 seed James Slater but only managed 92 points. His run of centuries would have been maintained had he not voided MORALISER, and he was also beaten by Slater's findings of CATHOUSE and CUISINE. Read also picked 6 small instead of his usual 2 large.
In his semi-final against Annie Humphries, Read accelerated again, scoring 115 to his opponent's 67 and achieving a maximum score in all but two rounds to secure a berth in the grand final of Series 76. This time he switched to 2 large.
Finally, in the ultimate show of the series, he showed no sign of slowing down as he beat Moose Rosser by a margin of 50 points to take a well-deserved set of dictionaries and become the latest owner of the Richard Whiteley Memorial Trophy. Read hence became a "xicount" with an 11-game total of 1230 points.
Read returned to Countdown in 2019 for the Championship of Champions XV, where he faced Tom Carey in the tournament's fourth preliminary game. Read was the only player from Series 76 to participate in the tournament. The game was close throughout, with Read notably making a late leap thanks to his spot of PIPEMAN to force a crucial conundrum. However, the Series 73 semi-finalist unravelled HAIRYDENT to take the game 106 – 87, relegating Read to his only defeat to date.
On Apterous, Read is known for making Jo Brand-style puns of the letter selections online during the day's Countdown broadcast.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Guest||Lex||Max|
|6576||5/05/2017||P||John Robertson||37 – 119||Stephen Read||John Inverdale||Susie Dent||124|
|6577||8/05/2017||P||Stephen Read||110 – 27||Jake Denney||John Inverdale||Susie Dent||121|
|6578||9/05/2017||P||Stephen Read||111 – 27||Tim Clarke||John Inverdale||Susie Dent||133|
|6579||10/05/2017||P||Stephen Read||104 – 60||Dan Haggerty||Mark Austin||Susie Dent||122|
|6580||11/05/2017||P||Stephen Read||131 – 21||Alan Jefferson||Mark Austin||Susie Dent||133|
|6581||12/05/2017||P||Stephen Read||114 – 61||Mark Rainey||Mark Austin||Susie Dent||135|
|6582||15/05/2017||P||Stephen Read||115 – 51||Jane Donnelly||Mark Austin||Susie Dent||121|
|6583||16/05/2017||P||Stephen Read||111 – 42||Craig Tampin||Mark Austin||Susie Dent||132|
|6608||21/06/2017||QF||Stephen Read||92 – 60||James Slater||Suzi Perry||Susie Dent||135|
|6612||28/06/2017||SF||Stephen Read||115 – 67||Annie Humphries||Colin Murray||Susie Dent||124|
|6614||30/06/2017||GF||Stephen Read||108 – 58||Moose Rosser||Colin Murray||Susie Dent||121|
|6983||7/01/2019||CP||Tom Carey||106 – 87||Stephen Read||Kate Humble||Susie Dent||131|