8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown



Jimmy Carr (all but one episode)

Katherine Ryan (100 Years of Suffrage edition, 2018)


Team captains:
Sean Lock (most episodes, 2012-22)
Jon Richardson (most episodes)

"Vital statistician":
Rachel Riley
Claudia Winkleman (stand-in)
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon (stand-in)

Lexicologist: Susie Dent

Vital statistician's assistant: Joe Wilkinson


ITV Studios and Zeppotron for Channel 4, 2 January 2012 to present

Specials: 2 January 2012, 24 August 2012, 12 April 2013, 19 April 2013

Channel 4, 26 July 2013 to present
BBC UKTV (Australia), 26 November 2019 to present


On 2 January 2012, as part of celebrations to mark Channel 4's 30th year of broadcasting, the channel aired an evening of special programmes, entitled the Channel 4 Mash-Up, which saw the presenters of different Channel 4 series take part in a 'job swap'. One such swap, saw the team from 8 Out of 10 Cats take over the Countdown studio, with Jimmy Carr presenting, and team captains Sean Lock and Jon Richardson playing against each other. This proved popular and what started out as a one-off special has become a series in its own right.

The game is played broadly in line with the format of Countdown, starting with one of the contestants picking vowels and consonants in a letters game. Unlike Countdown itself however, there are no rules regarding how many of each the contestants are allowed to select. After the 30 second countdown (and with some entertainment from the host - see Key Moments below), the contestants reveal what words they have found. Following this, and like in the parent programme, Susie Dent in Dictionary Corner then offers up some alternatives. In these games, the rules are occasionally bent - such as changing your declaration at the end of the countdown for instance. More letters games are played, before attention turns to the numbers game, which is played the same manner as the original Countdown programme, and oddly with the rule regarding your declaration being enforced rather more strongly than in the letters games. After a number of games have been played, which unlike Countdown do not necessarily follow the same pattern in each episode, there then follows the Countdown Conundrum. In this round, the word to be unscrambled has usually been arranged to read as either rude or suggestive. As usual, if a contestant can solve the conundrum, they score 10 points. The programme then draws to a close with the contestant who has scored the highest being declared the winner.

Key moments

During each 30 second countdown, Jimmy Carr engaging in some humorous activity. Originally these were in line with the type of humour found in 8 Out of 10 Cats - such as peering at Rachel Riley through binoculars or reading Fifty Shades of Grey. However as more episodes have been filmed, these activities have become more varied, including building a house of cards, or icing a large cake.

Like the Countdown Conundrum, the 'teatime teaser' - an anagram revealed before each commercial break with the answer afterwards - is typically a rude word, or one laden with innuendo. However upon being revealed, the word is usually quite innocent.

Theme music

The original Countdown theme music is used, however the opening titles feature images from both parent programmes.


The first episode ended 45 to 21 in Richardson's favour. However his win could have been even more convincing as he (belatedly) spotted a nine-letter word in the selection (something Susie Dent in Dictionary Corner had not spotted). However as he had already declared a six-letter word, his nine-letter word could not be counted.

The first re-match, aired in August 2012 as part of Channel 4's 'Funny Fortnight'. This ended with Sean Lock as the victor. However this was arguably only because he had help from Rachel Riley and former contestant and professional footballer Clarke Carlisle during certain rounds.

From the third episode onwards, Sean Lock and Jon Richardson were joined by a team-mate, most often a comedian from the panel show circuit.

In the ninth episode, Lee Mack, standing in for Sean Lock, and his team-mate Bob Mortimer had managed to reach the conundrum without scoring a single point against Jon Richardson and his team-mate Adam Hills who had 53 points. With a little help from Joe Wilkinson, they managed to convince host Jimmy Carr to award 100 points to whoever solved the conundrum. Unfortunately for them, Richardson solved the conundrum, giving himself and Hills a then-record-setting high score of 153 points, and leaving Mack and Mortimer with a record-equalling low score of zero.

At least twice, Rachel Riley was unavailable. On the first occasion, during series nine, they brought in Claudia Winkleman to do two episodes, with Rob Beckett 'helping' her on the second occasion after she judged her appearance to be substandard. (To be fair, Rachel had only had about seven years practice...) On the second occasion, for two episodes during series 24, Anne-Marie Imafidon had already stood in for Rachel on the civilised version of the show, so it wouldn't really have been on to not have her deputise on this version; said series began airing in January 2023, but was taken off after only one had aired (two if you could the Christmas special two weeks earlier) to make room for Jon & Lucy's Odd Couples... which itself had one episode sit on the shelf for eight months after its first five episodes aired. D'oh. The remaining series 24 episodes premiered in parallel with series 25... in Australia, on BBC UKTV, who had previously got the 2020 Christmas special and two best bits compilations before we did. Boo.

Web links

Channel 4 programme page

Wikipedia entry

British Comedy Guide entry

See also

8 Out of 10 Cats



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