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Naturally enough, Series 1 was the first series. The first of 53 series presented by Richard Whiteley, it ran from 2 November to 16 December 1982, originally only on Mondays to Thursdays, included just 26 heats and one final (also making it the shortest in history), and was won by 1980 National Scrabble Champion, Joyce Cansfield.
The first episode was broadcast on 2 November 1982 at 4:45pm as the first programme ever to be shown on Channel 4. It was won by Scrabble player Michael Goldman, becoming the first daily champion after a 50 – 27 win over Jeff Andrews. Goldman won a further four matches before he was unseated by John Simpson, who was unseated by Cansfield.
Joyce Cansfield and Michael Wylie qualified for the final with the two highest scores of the series. The grand final was a close game but Joyce wrapped it up 59 – 41, solving an apt crucial conundrum. Wylie never returned to Countdown as a contestant, except for a brace of Countdown Masters contests, but later became the show's producer. Cansfield on the other hand had impressive runs in the Championship of Champions I and the Supreme Championship and was invited back for the Ladies' Championship during Series 49, but was unable to attend because she had booked a skiing holiday.
The jazz saxophonist and raconteur Benny Green was booked to appear in Dictionary Corner for part of the series but fell ill, leaving Kenneth Williams to do all but the first seven programmes.