Ann Dibben (née Rutter) was an octochamp in and the runner-up of Series 74 who débuted in Series 18. Notably, her performances in the Series 74 finals (in terms of knockout stages reached, tie-broken by highest scores, and excluding Championship of Champions appearances) make her the most successful female contestant in the history of the 15 round format.
Appearances on the programme
Dibben initially appeared on Countdown in Series 18 in 1989, winning one game and unseating three-time champion Mark Pont before being stopped by David Ware. In April 2016, she was readmitted to the show and made a much greater mark, becoming an octochamp, notching up a total of 884 points and almost, failing by just one point, to score a century in each match. She was the only woman to win a game in Series 74.
This run was successful enough to allow Dibben to enter the series finals in June as #3 seed. Here, her first opponent was the octochamp and Apterite Tim Down. Dibben maintained a narrow lead for most of the game, but Down achieved a perfect solution on the final four large numbers game to lead 106 – 97 going into the crucial conundrum. Roughly one second before the end of time, Dibben solved MAGICPORT to win by just one point. In the semi-finals, Dibben was again placed in a close matchup, this time against Robin McKay, and yet again she prevailed by a single point on a crucial conundrum, this one being unsolved. Finally, Dibben took on Paul Erdunast in the series Grand Final and despite Erdunast having spotting UROKINASE in Round 1, she came back with PHOBIAS and managed to stick quite closely behind his score, remaining in contention until Erdunast sealed victory prior to the last numbers game. However, Dibben had the last word by unravelling the conundrum HOLYCIGAR in two seconds to lose 116 – 105 and become the first woman to have ever scored a century in a series Grand Final.
Championship of Champions XV
Dibben returned to Countdown in January 2019 to participate in the Championship of Champions XV as the tournament’s only female player. There, she faced John Cowen in the second preliminary round of the tournament. While initially suffering a setback after Cowen's perfect solve on his first selected "six small" Numbers round, she fought back by beating his other selected Numbers round. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to escape a crucial conundrum and with Cowen unscrambling SHYBIRDIE in a second, she was eliminated, but not before being reminded by Cowen on her stellar performance against Erdunast back in June 2016.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Presenters||Guest||Lex||Max|
|900||23/08/1989||P||Ann Rutter||63 - 59||Mark Pont||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Brian Johnston||Della Thompson||76|
|901||24/08/1989||P||Ann Rutter||38 - 40||David Ware||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Brian Johnston||Della Thompson||74|
|6342||12/04/2016||P||Tom Coward||55 - 117||Ann Dibben||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Alistair McGowan||Susie Dent||153|
|6343||13/04/2016||P||Ann Dibben||107 - 45||Ashton Gardner||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Alistair McGowan||Susie Dent||133|
|6344||14/04/2016||P||Ann Dibben||99 - 33||John Billitteri||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Alistair McGowan||Susie Dent||124|
|6345||15/04/2016||P||Ann Dibben||118 - 60||Paul Lonsdale||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Dave Myers||Susie Dent||131|
|6346||18/04/2016||P||Ann Dibben||102 - 54||Ben Manuell||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Dave Myers||Susie Dent||129|
|6347||19/04/2016||P||Ann Dibben||112 - 63||Neville Spiers||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Dave Myers||Susie Dent||124|
|6348||20/04/2016||P||Ann Dibben||101 - 37||Sean Taylor||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Dave Myers||Susie Dent||130|
|6349||21/04/2016||P||Ann Dibben||128 - 28||Nick Ferguson||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Dave Myers||Susie Dent||145|
|6380||20/06/2016||QF||Ann Dibben||107 - 106||Tim Down||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Dr Phil Hammond||Susie Dent||127|
|6383||23/06/2016||SF||Robin McKay||112 - 113||Ann Dibben||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Dr Phil Hammond||Susie Dent||144|
|6384||24/06/2016||GF||Paul Erdunast||116 - 105||Ann Dibben||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Dr Phil Hammond||Susie Dent||135|
|6981||3/01/2019||CP||Ann Dibben||94 - 97||John Cowen||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Kate Humble||Susie Dent||129|