The Leeds Studios
The Leeds Studios are located on Kirkstall Road in Leeds, West Yorkshire, and were the home of the Countdown studios from 2 November 1982 to 19 June 2009. However, the studios moved temporarily twice, to the Tyne Tees Studios for 29 episodes in 2001, and the Granada Studios for nine episodes in 2007.
The show was originally called Calendar Countdown as part of the Yorkshire news show Calendar which still runs in Yorkshire today. Thus, Leeds, in the heart of West Yorkshire was chosen as the venue for Countdown. The main studio contained the Countdown set including seats for both contestants, the presenter, and the Dictionary Corner duo. It also contained a seating area for about 200 people, plus the iconic Countdown clock, the letters board, numbers board and tiles. There was also:
- The green room: A small room with a television that wired into the main studio so future contestants could relax away from the spectators but still watch the games. This was where contestants are usually found in between games, unless they were eating or getting changed.
- The changing rooms: A male and female changing room which also included some spare clothes in case one of the contestants had brought unsuitable material to wear in the studio.
- The make-up room: Everyone on camera has to put on some foundation to combat the effects of the lights in the studio; presenters, co-presenters, Dictionary Corner, and the contestants.
- The canteen: Where the players and staff ate their meals between the afternoon and evening recording sessions. The canteen was also open to other programmes.
- The bar: Up to Series 50, it used to serve drinks to the contestants and their families at the end of the day. Typically, the contestant got one free drink each before they had to start paying.
- The gallery: Upstairs in the main studio was the gallery where all the sound and camera shots were coordinated. Typically, you would also find Damian Eadie and Michael Wylie (until his death in 2008), who gave the longest words in the letters rounds via earpiece to the Dictionary Corner duo. Most of the programme was coordinated from the gallery.
- Various offices for the Countdown team to do clerical work between programmes, budgeting, finance and writing down the scores and winners of the games.
In March 2009, ITV plc announced that The Leeds Studios were to be closed in an effort to save costs following a reported loss of £2.7 billion for 2008. About 150 jobs would be lost. The Calendar studios would remain open as would the separate Emmerdale studio.
- The Leeds Studios on Wikipedia.