Matt O'Connor was an octochamp and the runner-up of Series 85, and a participant in Championship of Champions XVI. He first appeared as a contestant in Series 65 under his former name, Matt Croy. He lives in Warrington and is a serving Detective Constable, formerly with Greater Manchester Police but now with Cheshire Police, and has been a member of Apterous since 2011.
He is reportedly Rachel Riley's favourite contestant.
Appearances on the programme
Matt began his Countdown début on 17 June 2011 as one of two brand new contestants following the octorun of the eventual series winner Graeme Cole. He lasted until his sixth show when he was narrowly defeated by a score of 90 – 91 after his opponent, Andrew Halliburton, correctly solved the conundrum MYQUARTER a fraction before the clock had completed 30 seconds. Matt's five wins and 538 points were not enough to reach the series finals.
Matt returned to the show 11 years later where he won his first game of his second run with a tight game against five-game winner Craig Fawcett with 113 to Fawcett's 77, thanks to spotting MALONATES for nine in the last letters round. Matt followed this with a personal best of 130 points, which he bettered by nine points five shows later. In his last heat of his second run, he spotted PREDATION for nine, but his opponent, Liam Moss, clawed back to near distance by spotting TABOURETS for nine in the next letters round. However, a disallowed word from Liam allowed Matt to eventually wrap up and become an octochamp. An appropriately scrambled police themed conundrum COPPERHIT was mis-declared by Matt, but this didn't prevent him from claiming his 8th century of his Octorun finishing with an overall score of 949 points – 18 points fewer than Number 1 seed Dan Byrom.
On 10 June, Matt returned to the show as Number 2 seed to start his finals run against fellow octochamp Dan Hall. Despite missing his declared target in the second numbers game, Matt broke away later on and won the game with another century to book his semi-final spot against another octochamp in Steve Hyde. Matt and Steve were level pegging throughout the early stages of the match, but once again Matt won more rounds to win by 40 points to set up a Grand Final match against the Number 1 seed, Dan Byrom; notably entering the game with two more series points than what Dan had accumulated when the finals matches are included.
As the statistics would indicate, the final was very close. Matt took an eight-point lead in Round 1 with OCTOPINE. His lead didn't last long, though, as Dan broke away with a successful six-small solution in Round 3, followed by EMPAESTIC for nine, putting Matt 20 points adrift. Matt managed to get back to just a five point deficit by spotting SUZERAIN and GOPURAM, however Dan extended his lead to 13 points by spotting LESIONED in the last letters game. An unsolved final numbers game by both players sealed the match in Dan's favour despite Matt bowing out with another conundrum solve. Matt was declared the series runner-up after the game finished 78 – 81, meaning that his total points for the series of 1,250 was one point fewer than Dan's 1,251.
Championship of Champions
Matt returned to the programme in January 2023 for a fourth time to participate in Championship of Champions XVI, where his opponent was Sam Cappleman-Lynes. Both players traded blows at the start of the game, but Sam eventually built an unbeatable lead before an unsolved conundrum got past both players. This meant Matt suffered his third defeat on the show, bowing out with a final points total of 1,957 points from 19 appearances.
This appearance meant that Matt is one of only three contestants in the history of Countdown to have appeared on the show under 4 different presenters, the others being Conor Travers and Dinos Sfyris.
In late 2012, he was invited back to Countdown in a themed 'Law & Order' special episode against prison officer Craig Lingard. He was allowed to devote the show to the memory of his friends and colleagues Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes who had been killed on duty weeks earlier, he used his appearance as a fundraiser in their memory for the charity 'Care of Police Survivors' (COPS). This show was finally broadcast in April 2015.
Matt has appeared three times on the Lee Blakeman breakfast show on BBC Radio Stoke. These were succeeding his Octorun, Series Finals and Champion of Champions appearances on Countdown. Lee, who is a self-confessed Countdown super fan, interviewed Matt about his experiences on the show and also played letters and numbers rounds against him live on the radio.
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Presenters||Guest||Lex||Max|
|5288||17/06/2011||P||Matt Croy||86 – 50||Barrie Crawford||Jeff Stelling||Rachel Riley||Jon Culshaw||Susie Dent||117|
|5289||20/06/2011||P||Matt Croy||96 – 45||Pete Snowdon||Jeff Stelling||Rachel Riley||Tim Vine||Susie Dent||119|
|5290||21/06/2011||P||Matt Croy||100 – 53||Mark Worsfold||Jeff Stelling||Rachel Riley||Tim Vine||Susie Dent||119|
|5291||22/06/2011||P||Matt Croy||95 – 86||Chris Hemingway||Jeff Stelling||Rachel Riley||Tim Vine||Susie Dent||129|
|5292||23/06/2011||P||Matt Croy||71 – 45||Kevan Nijjar||Jeff Stelling||Rachel Riley||Tim Vine||Susie Dent||118|
|5293||24/06/2011||P||Matt Croy||90 – 91||Andrew Halliburton||Jeff Stelling||Rachel Riley||Tim Vine||Susie Dent||114|
|S45||10/04/2015||S||Matt Croy||91 – 66||Craig Lingard||Nick Hewer||Rachel Riley||Paul Zenon||Susie Dent||117|
|7741||15/04/2022||P||Craig Fawcett||77 – 113||Matt O'Connor||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Giles Coren||Susie Dent||144|
|7742||18/04/2022||P||Matt O'Connor||130 – 6||Charlie Edwards||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Sophie Ellis-Bextor||Susie Dent||133|
|7743||19/04/2022||P||Matt O'Connor||118 – 20||Tom Parkin-Coates||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Sophie Ellis-Bextor||Susie Dent||136|
|7744||20/04/2022||P||Matt O'Connor||120 – 6||Anna Chandra||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Sophie Ellis-Bextor||Susie Dent||125|
|7745||21/04/2022||P||Matt O'Connor||123 – 74||Stewart Cairns||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Sophie Ellis-Bextor||Susie Dent||137|
|7746||22/04/2022||P||Matt O'Connor||102 – 53||Paul Merison||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Sophie Ellis-Bextor||Susie Dent||142|
|7747||25/04/2022||P||Matt O'Connor||139 – 34||James Campbell||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Justin Webb||Susie Dent||144|
|7748||26/04/2022||P||Matt O'Connor||104 – 78||Liam Moss||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Justin Webb||Susie Dent||145|
|7781||10/06/2022||QF||Matt O'Connor||106 – 58||Dan Hall||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Jay Rayner||125|
|7785||16/06/2022||SF||Matt O'Connor||117 – 77||Steve Hyde||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Robert Rinder||122|
|7786||17/06/2022||GF||Dan Byrom||81 – 78||Matt O'Connor||Anne Robinson||Rachel Riley||Robert Rinder||136|
|7929||11/01/2023||CP||Matt O'Connor||78 – 101||Sam Cappleman-Lynes||Colin Murray||Rachel Riley||Heather Small||Susie Dent||124|