Wink Martindale’s Youtube channel posted this this morning, the 1990 US Countdown pilot, hosted by Michael Jackson (not that one).
Immediately I quite enjoyed the synth-rock-tastic interpretation of the theme tune as was de rigeur for US shows at the time, so it was quite surprising to hear our standard UK Countdown clock jingle for the rounds themselves. I don’t hate the amateur/celebrity nature of the game, although clearly you’d want the celebs to be of a roughly equal skill level and that’d be quite hard to balance. It is perhaps telling how much applause five letter words got. It felt like it took an age to get the nine letters out even though realistically it probably wasn’t that much extra time.
I don’t love the Countdown Scramble, or at least I don’t love the way it’s presented here. I did quite enjoy Jackson’s desk just flying off.
Of course it’s extremely easy to look at the lack of maths round and laugh, but let’s not forget Le Mot Le Plus Long existed as a format that ran for five years before Armond Jammot added the “le Compte est bon” (the sum is right) element so it’s not like it was unheard of.