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Letters and Numbers

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Title card.
The maths guru, Lily Serna.
The word expert, David Astle.
For the types of segment on Countdown, see letters game and numbers game.

Letters and Numbers is the Australian version of Countdown. It originally ran from 2 August 2010 to 27 June 2012 on SBS One, having been repeated in its entirety since, and is the third English-language version of the show so far. The name Countdown was not available for use by this adaptation, as in Australia, that name had previously been used by a pop music programme. It was adapted from Des chiffres et des lettres in the same way that Countdown was in 1982. The presenter was Richard Morecroft, the lexicographer was David Astle and the arithmetician was Lily Serna.

In 2021, the show returned with celebrity contestants competing in three-player matches in a series of standalone episodes, with new presenter Michael Hing replacing Morecroft; Astle and Serna transferred.


The show followed a layout inspired by the British version. Shows had five letters games, three numbers games and a conundrum, with two advertising breaks during which Word Mixes (eight-letter anagrams similar to Teatime Teasers) are displayed for viewers. The rounds were arranged in the format LLNWLLNWLNC, with W representing a Word Mix.

On the Australian show, daily champions were capped at six wins instead of eight, similar to the viscounts of Series 46 of Countdown. Letters and Numbers series, rather than having their start and end dates defined by calendar months, were always arranged to include exactly 100 shows, with each one (except for Series 5) consisting of 93 preliminaries (heats) followed by a seven-episode knockout finals stage similar to Countdown's, though sometimes with different seed combinations in the semi-finals. Winners of each series received a hard copy of the Macquarie Dictionary, against which all words on the show were judged.

The show's original run comprised 443 regular-play episodes (including four 100-show series, each lasting roughly four months, and an incomplete fifth series), followed by a Masters tournament (analogous to a Countdown Championship of Champions; unrelated to the morning Countdown Masters programme) comprising all four previous series champions, three runners-up and a semi-finalist. This event was won by the Series 4 champion Sam Gaffney.

Former Countdown contestant Andrew Fisher appeared on episode 15 of Letters and Numbers and went on to become the #1 seed and champion of the first series.

On the Australian version's numbers games, two large and four small numbers (known as the "Family Mix", as the two large numbers were analogous to a pair of parents) evolved to become the most common selection, in contrast to the British show where one large and five small is most popular.


Year Series Winner
2010 Series 1 Andrew Fisher
2011 Series 2 Tony Loui
Series 3 Jacob Davey
2012 Series 4 Sam Gaffney
Series 5*
Series Masters Sam Gaffney

*Incomplete. Series 5 did not feature any finals matches.


See also

External Links