Zarte Siempre was a contestant in Series 69, an octochamp in and the champion of Series 78 and the winner of Championship of Champions XV. From Dadford, Buckinghamshire, he was a Freelance Marketer at the time of his second run on the show. Siempre has been a long-time member of Apterous and c4countdown, and is the innovator of FOCAL and former organiser of Countdown in Milton Keynes.
Siempre is known for his dapper attire, composed demeanour, contagious sense of humour and consistently high-scoring gameplay. His comedic abilities and contributions to the Countdown circuit on and off screen, as well as the show’s sixth Grand Slam winner, earn him a reputation as one of the most popular and most successful contestants in history. He is also head of the Meringue Defence League and is directly descended from Genghis Khan. As of 2018, Siempre holds three Michelin stars – two more than Marcus Wareing.
Siempre made his televised debut on 24 July 2013, delivering a convincing 118 – 76 defeat to Rory Coleman. Four more victories followed, including a top score of 137 (at the time, the eighth highest score ever) before losing at the hands of eventual runner-up and fourteenth Champion of Champions Dylan Taylor both in the Countdown contest and the personality stakes, although Siempre's win in their backstage beauty contest offered some consolation as he triumphantly maxed the swimwear round. In his heats, Siempre averaged 109.33 points per game, the then-highest ever average for a non-octochamp. He didn't make the finals despite scoring 656 points, 48 points higher than the number 8 seed Gemma Church, but he only amassed 5 wins compared to Church's 6. Notably, during his third game, Siempre's declaration of AREOLA caused non-stop laughter in the studio for 15 minutes. This blooper was televised in an episode of It’ll Be Alright On The Night.
As a result of his unfortunate decisive matchup, Siempre eventually returned to the programme nearly five years later in Series 78 for another chance to make the finals. In his first return appearance, on 1 March 2018, he powered past fellow Apterite Philip Aston to end Aston's run in his seventh game. This time, Siempre's octorun was not halted as he racked up seven further victories, all with scores well over a century, including – for the second time ever – a run of three consecutive totals over 125. Siempre's cumulative score of 967 points made him the standout #1 seed, as well as the then second-highest scoring octochamp of all time behind only Dylan Taylor himself. The studio audience was dominated by many fellow Apterites and Co-event players during his run.
Three months later, in his quarter-final match against Jan Pask, Siempre amassed 124 points and won by 105, the biggest winning margin ever recorded in any finals match. Siempre thus advanced to the semi-finals to take on #4-ranked Phil Davies. This match was very close; Siempre's first-round offering of disagreer ☓ was invalid at the time, so Davies gained a 7-point lead which he maintained through the second commercial break. Ultimately, however, Siempre recovered with two further letters spots to confirm his victory after the final numbers round. He then zoomed off to the green room to change his trousers and dress as a snooker player, before hysterically laughing at Philip Aston dramatically declaring GAYNESS in his semi-final.
In the ultimate show of the series – a rematch against Aston – Siempre took an early 8-point lead with REPUSHED, but then lost it after having superking ☓ disallowed. The scoreline was 118 – 118 (the highest ever in a Grand Final) going into the crucial conundrum USEDLOGIC. Zarte answered with GLUCOSIDE in 10 seconds to seal victory and setting a new record for the highest score ever achieved in a Grand Final in the process. His cumulative points total across his 11 shows in the series is 1,331 points, which was the highest ever achieved by a series winner until Series 82 champion Luke Johnson-Davies bettered it with 1,384.
Championship of Champions XV
Siempre returned to Championship of Champions XV in January 2019, where he faced Paul Erdunast in the first round for a highly-anticipated match between the two highest-scoring "xicounts" of the tournament. The game was decided only by the letters rounds: Siempre took the lead with RELEASOR, but Erdunast levelled the scoreline with his finding of AUTODYNE. However, Erdunast fell 8 behind again after his invalid play of noshiest ☓ lost to Siempre’s SHOOTIES. With neither player unravelling the crucial conundrum AMRESTIVE (the answer, TIMESAVER, is no longer a valid word), Siempre won the match with a score of 113 to Erdunast’s 105.
Siempre then faced fellow octochamp Tom Carey in the last Quarter-final. Here, Siempre showed no sign of slowing down in a game with 4 nine-letter words available: Siempre and Carey found LARCENOUS in round 1, but Siempre quickly thundered into a 36-point lead with BLOWSIEST and DIVAGATED beating Carey’s BLOWIEST and DIVAGATE in rounds 4 and 5 respectively to storm to 82 points out of 82, the highest ever score after 6 rounds. Despite Carey clawing back with his play of TIRAMISUS in round 12, Siempre maxed the final letters round, solved the last numbers round and the conundrum to win with a score of 150, the then-highest ever achieved in the history of Countdown (until Elliott Mellor bettered it by 2 points exactly four months later). The players’ combined score of 272 is also the highest ever. His win set up a "threematch" between him and Philip Aston: only the second proper threematch ever, after Natascha Kearsey vs Peter Cashmore. Here, Siempre scored 106 points – his lowest score since returning to the show – but it was enough as he maxed every letters round and Aston had maderiser ☓ disallowed to fall behind yet again. Siempre is the first contestant ever to beat the same player 3 times.
Siempre’s final match was against Series 77 runner-up Bradley Horrocks. Once again, Siempre took the lead with an opening-round spot of HEDARIM and won the third numbers round (this time picking 3 large). Before the final numbers round, Siempre became the fifteenth Champion of Champions, and in doing so joined Harvey Freeman, Nic Brown, Don Reid, Scott Mearns and Graham Nash in an elite band of Grand Slam winners. His cumulative score across his entire Countdown career is 2,472 points, more than any other contestant, and is the second contestant after Conor Travers to win 20 games on the show.
On 22 December 2019, Siempre appeared in a documentary entitled TV's Greatest Gameshows on Challenge, which included a clip of him solving the conundrum OOHSONUMB in his Championship of Champions XV final.
His Co-event career began when he attended CobliviLon in 2012, actually winning 7 games out of 6. However, history has unfortunately and cruelly been amended so that it officially says that he came in 18th place, which is still respectable, especially as he was crouching for the entirety of the tournament.
This was followed up by an appearance at Lincoln in 2013, where he finished in a solid 15th place with 4 wins out of 6. He later went to CO:REA 2013, finishing on 3 wins and 463 points to ensure another top-15 finish. Siempre was also the overall victor in Group B at Countdown in Leamington Spa, winning a magical unicycle and a leprechaun in the process. In the same year, he co-hosted CobliviLon with Amie Bateen.
2014 saw him come runner-up to Series 63 champion Jack Hurst at COLIN X, while in August he won CoMultiLon after the final against James Robinson was cancelled - with Siempre having the most points throughout the day, he was declared the winner. Later that evening, he won the inaugural Apterous Ring Of Fire tournament, having seen off Jamie 'Laverty' McNeill with a reference to Stiliyan Petrov's scrotum. He has since won Countdown in St Albans 2016.
His contributions to Apterous have included organising the long-running Aptotude League series and, until 2017, an Apterous version of the Belgian reality television gameshow The Mole, famed for irritating anyone who wanted to play a spot on Saturday Night Apterous.
Since 2019, Siempre runs a Big Brother US game called The All-Seeing Eye () on Tengaged under the pseudonym Zee, which as of writing is ongoing Season 2 and is somehow the craziest thing he's done due to the mental sanity he's lost.
On 5 January 2020, Siempre featured in The People's Playlist on BBC Three Counties Radio.
|Champion of Champions
Championship of Champions XV
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Guest||Lex||Max|
|5739||24/07/2013||P||Rory Coleman||76 – 118||Zarte Siempre||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||130|
|5740||25/07/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||114 – 34||Ian Talbot||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||127|
|5741||26/07/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||103 – 49||Brenda Widger||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||123|
|5742||29/07/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||137 – 41||Michelle Furnell||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||143|
|5743||5/08/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||103 – 26||Sam Wheeler||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||124|
|5744||6/08/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||81 – 120||Dylan Taylor||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||121|
|6774||1/03/2018||P||Philip Aston||97 – 121||Zarte Siempre||Myleene Klass||Susie Dent||135|
|6775||2/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||111 – 64||Keith Howkins||Myleene Klass||Susie Dent||124|
|6776||5/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||118 – 70||Donal Casey||Myleene Klass||Susie Dent||124|
|6777||6/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||128 – 23||Jonathan Stoneman||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||132|
|6778||7/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||130 – 62||Patrick Gray||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||144|
|6779||8/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||130 – 39||Dave Burch||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||145|
|6780||9/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||118 – 29||Steve Shingleton||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||123|
|6781||12/03/2018||P||Zarte Siempre||111 – 65||Anthony Jenkin||Liz Bonnin||Susie Dent||125|
|6847||14/06/2018||QF||Zarte Siempre||124 – 19||Jan Pask||Helen Fospero||Susie Dent||133|
|6851||20/06/2018||SF||Zarte Siempre||112 – 88||Phil Davies||Helen Fospero||Susie Dent||123|
|6853||22/06/2018||GF||Zarte Siempre||128 – 118||Philip Aston||Paul Zenon||Susie Dent||136|
|6984||8/01/2019||CP||Paul Erdunast||105 – 113||Zarte Siempre||Kate Humble||Susie Dent||131|
|6991||17/01/2019||CQF||Tom Carey||122 – 150||Zarte Siempre||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||168|
|6992||18/01/2019||CSF||Philip Aston||73 – 106||Zarte Siempre||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||129|
|6994||22/01/2019||CGF||Zarte Siempre||116 – 83||Bradley Horrocks||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||123|
|Championship of Champions Winners|
I : Mark Nyman | II : Clive Freedman | III : Harvey Freeman | IV : Nic Brown | V : Tim Morrissey | VI : Wayne Summers | VII : Don Reid | VIII : Chris Rogers | IX : Natascha Kearsey | X : Scott Mearns | XI : Graham Nash | XII : Paul Gallen | XIII : Steve Briers | XIV : Dylan Taylor | XV : Zarte Siempre