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April's Featured Article

Susie Dent.jpg

Susie Dent (born September 1967) is a lexicographer on Countdown. Her first appearance in Dictionary Corner was on 29 June 1992, aged 24. At the time, the role of lexicographer rotated regularly between a group of members of the Oxford University Press (OUP) – most commonly Richard Samson and later Alison Heard – and occasionally members of the Countdown production team, Mark Nyman and Damian Eadie. For Series 50, Dent became a recurring member of the on-screen team, appearing in all but 15 episodes. She adjudicated every episode from 24 August 2004 until 9 May 2007, when the late Michael Wylie stepped in under the pseudonym "Susie Gent" to cover a bout of illness. Later in 2007, she took three months' maternity leave, allowing Heard to return for the last two months of Series 57, including the series final. She returned to the programme in February 2008, and has performed all lexicography work since.

She oversaw the final episodes presented by Richard Whiteley, Des Lynam, Des O'Connor, Jeff Stelling and Carol Vorderman. In total, Dent has appeared on over 4,500 episodes of Countdown, and if 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown is included, has appeared more than anyone else, overhauling Vorderman's total in 2021. Beginning in Series 72 in 2015, Dent has been credited as a co-presenter alongside Rachel Riley. She has also appeared as the lexicographer in every episode of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, and in 2015, she finally appeared as a contestant in Episode Cats41.

Dent's close association with Countdown has been acknowledged through variations of her name having featuring as conundrums on four occasions: the Series 31 final used the scramble SUSISDENT; on 22 March 2005 the conundrum was SUSIEDANT; the episode broadcast on 27 August 2015 had the similar scramble SUSIADENT; and the episode broadcast on 15 December 2017 had the slightly more adapted SUSIFENNT. Moreover, many other episodes' conundrum scrambles have incorporated her first name (e.g. SUSIEPONG) or surname (e.g. DENTSCENE). Indeed, in the 13 January 2017 edition of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, the conundrum was DENTPOOPS, solved by Series 70 champion Mark Murray.

Since Series 57, Dent has been given a regular slot called Origins of Words, in which she explains the derivations of well-known words or phrases. As well as being a native English speaker, she is fluent in French and German and often makes comments on the etymologies of words derived from those two languages. She has also on occasion been called upon to assist Dictionary Corner guests Geoffrey Durham and Paul Zenon during their magic tricks. Away from Countdown, Dent authored a series of annual Language Reports for the OUP between 2003 and 2007, and continues to write about the ongoing evolution of the English language. She lives in Oxford with her husband Paul, and her daughters Lucy (born 11 February 2000) and Thea (born 22 October 2007).

On 29 June 2017, Dent celebrated her 25th anniversary as Countdown lexicographer, and that day's programme featured several tributes and gifts to her, with that day's Dictionary Corner guest Colin Murray reading a poem on her behalf and Nick Hewer presenting her with a postcard signed by Arsène Wenger, the manager of her favoured football club Arsenal. (more...)

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