Darryl Francis was an octochamp in and the champion of Series 6, who débuted in Series 1. He was also a semi-finalist in Championship of Champions III, and a participant in the Supreme Championship and the 30th Birthday Championship. His Countdown appearances span an incredible 31 years.
A computer manager from Isleworth, Middlesex, Francis first appeared in the twelfth ever episode, losing his only game to Joe Guy. However, he was later invited back for Series 6, where he became an octochamp and ended up No. 2 seed for the finals. He is the first octochamp ever to unravel all eight conundrums in the heat games.
In his quarter-final, Francis eliminated No. 7 seed Neil Wilkins by a 21-point margin. In his semi-final against Adam Gilinsky he scored 72 points, the highest of the series. He then went on to beat Olivia Lloyd in the grand final, and became the first ever xicount, or series champion who was also an octochamp. He is also the first series winner to have previously appeared in an earlier series.
Interestingly, both Francis and the No. 1 seed, Helen Grayson, had previously appeared in the same series, Series 1.
Unable to play in Championship of Champions II due to a broken leg, he was invited back in 1987 for Championship of Champions III, where he defeated Stephen Balment in the quarter-finals before narrowly succumbing to David Trace 58 – 55 in the semis. He also appeared on the special episode to celebrate Countdown's 500th show on 2 February 1987, and competed in the Countdown Masters in 1989.
Francis returned to Countdown in 1996 for the Supreme Championship where, after a first round win over Mike Percik, he was defeated by Allan Saldanha, who equalled the record for the highest score ever achieved in a 9-round game of Countdown.
He returned to the show again in 2013, as one of 41 contestants taking part in the 30th Birthday Championship; of these, he was the one who originally appeared on Countdown the earliest. After some practice on Apterous, he won his first match against Series 22 semi-finalist David Webb by a score of 86 – 68, then beat Series 21 champion Barry Grossman in the first round, before losing to Series 53 semi-finalist Jon O'Neill, despite scoring a personal best of 91.
Francis is also a Scrabble expert who has contributed to some books about the game, and has appeared on Turnabout and BrainTeaser. In 2017, he appeared on Eggheads with Series 67 champion and fellow quizzer Paul James.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Presenters||Guest||Lex||Max|
|12||22/11/1982||P||Darryl Francis||? – ?||Joe Guy||Richard Whiteley||Dr Linda Barrett||Beverley Isherwood||Cathy Hytner||Kenneth Williams||Mary||??|
|245||21/01/1985||P||Darryl Francis||47 – 46||Steven Tew||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Gyles Brandreth||Yvonne Warburton||68|
|246||22/01/1985||P||Andrew Mason||26 – 60||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Gyles Brandreth||Yvonne Warburton||72|
|247||24/01/1985||P||Diana Mills||18 – 51||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Gyles Brandreth||Yvonne Warburton||68|
|248||25/01/1985||P||Darryl Francis||52 – 49||Alan Carvell||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Gyles Brandreth||Yvonne Warburton||73|
|249||27/01/1985||P||Irene Pollard||21 – 41||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Gyles Brandreth||Yvonne Warburton||70|
|250||28/01/1985||P||Clive Simkin||16 – 57||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Gyles Brandreth||Yvonne Warburton||71|
|251||29/01/1985||P||Armand Gilinsky||47 – 69||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Gyles Brandreth||Yvonne Warburton||71|
|252||30/01/1985||P||Tom Roberts||5 – 59||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Richard Stilgoe||Yvonne Warburton||70|
|283||14/03/1985||QF||Neil Wilkins||35 – 56||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Richard Stilgoe||Julia Swannell||68|
|287||20/03/1985||SF||Adam Gilinsky||34 – 72||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Richard Stilgoe||Julia Swannell||74|
|288||21/03/1985||GF||Olivia Lloyd||37 – 69||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Gyles Brandreth,
|495||02/02/1987||X||Bill Tidy with
Peter Evans, and
|41 – 32||Gyles Brandreth with
Joyce Cansfield, and
|Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||none||Della Thompson||67|
|596||23/06/1987||CQF||Darryl Francis||46 – 28||Stephen Balment||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Sally James||Della Thompson||73|
|600||29/06/1987||CSF||Darryl Francis||55 – 58||David Trace||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Cathy Hytner||Sally James||Della Thompson||73|
|M33||13/11/1989–17/11/1989||M||Clive Freedman||90 – 73||Darryl Francis||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||none||Freda Thornton||136|
|1883||18/11/1996||eQF||Darryl Francis||60 – 31||Mike Percik||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Barry Cryer||Susie Dent||75|
|1886||21/11/1996||eSF||Darryl Francis||24 – 83||Allan Saldanha||Richard Whiteley||Carol Vorderman||Tom O'Connor||Catherine Stokes||85|
|5620||14/01/2013||30BP||Darryl Francis||86 – 68||David Webb||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Martin Lewis||Susie Dent||119|
|5638||07/02/2013||30B1||Darryl Francis||82 – 63||Barry Grossman||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Kate Adie||Susie Dent||118|
|5641||12/02/2013||30B2||Jon O'Neill||122 – 91||Darryl Francis||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Ken Bruce||Susie Dent||130|
- Darryl Francis on Wikipedia.