Cillian McMulkin was a contestant in Series 65 and an octochamp in and the runner-up of 87. He is a risk analyst, originally from Belfast but now of Omagh, County Tyrone. He has been an Apterite since 2009, achieving a top 20 position in the Apterous pro rank leaderboard.
Appearances on the programme
Series 87 heats
However, just under 11 and a half years later and with years of practice on Apterous now under his belt, he was allowed to return – this time starting his run against seven-time winner Peter Burke in an all-Ireland affair. McMulkin would not be beaten this time, winning 66 – 107 to deny Burke's octochampdom and kick off with a century. He followed this with seven more sensational performances, which were also all centuries.
Of particular note, in his fifth victory, McMulkin equalled the current record for the highest-ever score of 154, sharing it with Tom Stevenson. Spots of CARBONITE, MOLESTING and MALIGNERS helped to rack up that score, with only the word GUNMETAL eluding him to deny a max game. His seventh game also tied for the highest possible score ever recorded in a game of Countdown, matching the 175 of episodes 6745 and 7341, with McMulkin spotting SENHORITA and SUBALPINE as two of the five available nine-letter words in that heat.
After his last game, which saw him spot a seventh nine SIGNATURE and drop only one point for the second time in his heats, McMulkin secured octochampdom with a total of 944 points to become the first one of the series and of 2023 – this also made him the 30th member of the 900 club. McMulkin qualified to return for the series finals in June and notably remained the only octochamp of the series until late May, when Ronan Higginson became the second, which itself was a 13-year record low.
Qualifying for the finals as the second seed, McMulkin returned for a quarter-final against fellow Apterite, Dave Cappleman, where he got off to an instant flier by spotting RANTOONES for nine in Round 1 to take an 18-point lead. Despite Cappleman closing the gap after a misfire of scampie ☓ from McMulkin, and an excellent spot of GOODLIER from Cappleman, McMulkin eventually put his foot back on the gas, with EUCRITES in Round 13 confirming his victory and advancement to the semi-finals, despite neither player being able to solve the conundrum. In his rematch with Peter Burke, despite an early stumble, McMulkin eventually roared to victory thanks in part to the spots of DEMONICAL, EPISTERNA and RADICULES to record his tenth consecutive century and storm into the grand final where Ronan Higginson lay in waiting for him in a hotly anticipated matchup.
In the grand final, McMulkin and Higginson started immediately with a spot of IGNORABLE for nine in the first round. However, after some unfortunate misfires from McMulkin on aluroids ☓ and quandries ☓, along with quality spots like MAPWISE, ODALISK and PECORAITE from Higginson, as well as superior numbers play, Higginson eventually raced away to win the series with 150 points while McMulkin took the runner-up spot with 83 points, his lowest score on the show to date. McMulkin amassed an overall total of 1,258 points in Series 87, and with his earlier appearance, his overall total is 1,343 points from 12 games.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Presenters||Guest||Lex||Max|
|5321||31/08/2011||P||Dave Taylor||99 – 85||Cillian McMulkin||Jeff Stelling||Rachel Riley||John Inverdale||Susie Dent||143|
|7939||25/01/2023||P||Peter Burke||66 – 107||Cillian McMulkin||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Stephen K. Amos||Susie Dent||134|
|7940||26/01/2023||P||Cillian McMulkin||109 – 51||Cheryl Perkins||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Stephen K. Amos||Susie Dent||130|
|7941||27/01/2023||P||Cillian McMulkin||124 – 43||Amy Perryman||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Stephen K. Amos||Susie Dent||135|
|7942||30/01/2023||P||Cillian McMulkin||101 – 61||Toby Rogers||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Justin Moorhouse||Susie Dent||121|
|7943||31/01/2023||P||Cillian McMulkin||154 – 69||Chris Davies||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Justin Moorhouse||Susie Dent||155|
|7944||01/02/2023||P||Cillian McMulkin||112 – 45||Jon Sluckis||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Justin Moorhouse||Susie Dent||124|
|7945||02/02/2023||P||Cillian McMulkin||116 – 33||Ron Squire||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Justin Moorhouse||Susie Dent||175|
|7946||03/02/2023||P||Cillian McMulkin||121 – 35||Alison Adams||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Justin Moorhouse||Susie Dent||122|
|8045||22/06/2023||QF||Cillian McMulkin||109 – 81||Dave Cappleman||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Marcus Brigstocke||Susie Dent||137|
|8049||28/06/2023||SF||Cillian McMulkin||122 – 41||Peter Burke||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Maggie Aderin-Pocock||Susie Dent||153|
|8050||29/06/2023||GF||Ronan Higginson||150 – 83||Cillian McMulkin||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Maggie Aderin-Pocock||Susie Dent||155|