8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown

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8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown
8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown Logo.jpg
Also known asCats Does Countdown
GenreComedy panel game
Based onDes chiffres et des lettres
Presented byJimmy Carr
StarringSean Lock
Jon Richardson
Susie Dent
Rachel Riley
Joe Wilkinson
Voices ofJohn Pohlhammer
Theme music composerAlan Hawkshaw
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series18
No. of episodes118 (as of 6 September 2019) (list of episodes)
Production location(s)Granada Studios (2012)
dock10, MediaCityUK (2013–present)
Running time45–65 minutes
Production company(s)ITV Studios
DistributorEndemol Shine UK
Original networkChannel 4
Picture format576i (16:9 SDTV) (2012)
1080i (HDTV) (2013–present)
Original release2 January 2012 (2012-01-02) –
Related shows8 Out of 10 Cats
External links

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown is a British comedy panel show. It is crossover of 8 Out of 10 Cats and game showCountdown. The show follows the format of Countdown, but with hosts and contestants from 8 Out of 10 Cats, and an emphasis on the humour seen on 8 Out of 10 Cats.


The formation of the crossover began as a series of specials, the first of which was conceived on 2 January 2012, when Channel 4 orchestrated a special "mash-up night", merging two shows to form a special edition of the pair, as part of its 30th anniversary celebrations. Amongst the programmes that were chosen to be merged for the evening of specials, production teams on Countdown and 8 Out of 10 Cats agreed to merge the two formats of their respective programmes together - the crossover between the two formats meant that Countdown's arrangement of games would be interspersed with 8 Out of 10 Cats-style banter.[1] As part of the merger, both Rachel Riley and Susie Dent assumed their roles from the programme, while Jimmy Carr took on the mantle of host, with both Sean Lock and Jon Richardson competing as contestants, and Joe Wilkinson joining Dent during the crossover's recording.

Following the first special, Channel 4 ordered another crossover special for 24 August 2012 as part of Channel 4's "Funny Fortnight", featuring the same cast as before, along with the appearances of David O'Doherty and former Countdown contestant Clarke Carlisle. In April 2013, a further two specials were ordered by the network, expanding on the merged formats but featuring the same cast, albeit with Lock unable to attend due to ill health and leading to Lee Mack standing in for him. As part of the expanded format, both Mack and Richardson were joined by an additional contestant each, for each special - Rhod Gilbert, Rob Beckett, Stephen Mangan and Richard Osman - with Dent joined by Tim Key and Henning Wehn respectively during recordings.[2][3]

On 9 July 2013, owing to favourable ratings from the specials, Channel 4 announced its decision to commission a full series of six episodes of the crossover,[4] which was aired from July to September,[5] Following the first series, the network ordered additional series for 2014,[6] [7] 2015,[8][9] 2016, and 2017.

On 13 July 2018, Channel 4 aired a special edition of the crossover series as part of commemorations towards 100 years of women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. As part of the special, all male members of the cast and crew were replaced, leaving the episode to feature an all-female cast - Katherine Ryan acted as host, while Roisin Conaty, Sara Pascoe, Jessica Hynes and Lolly Adefope participated as the contestants, with an appearance by Morgana Robinson as Natalie Cassidy.


Each episode lasts one hour, including advertising breaks, although the January 2012 special lasted only 30 minutes. Since the first one-third of the programme is occupied in introducing the panel, and due to the comedy interspersed between and during rounds, the game does not consist of the standard 15 rounds. The first few specials had different numbers of rounds ranging from 7 to 10. In the first two full series of the show, there were either 8 or 9 rounds. The first three-quarters of the show contained a letters round and a numbers round; the last section had a letters round, a numbers round (if there was time) and a conundrum. More recent series featured rounds involving two contestants participating in humorous activities, such as being blindfolded and identifying props that were spelt with nine letters.

The letters and numbers rounds are the same as in Countdown, and there are also "Teatime teasers". The conundrums and teatime teasers typically contain sexual words or innuendos but with usually innocent answers,[10] such as "GONADTIP" (clue: "One way to become a parent", answer: "ADOPTING").[11]

Whilst the clock is ticking, as the contestants attempt to find a word within 30 seconds, Carr often takes part in some form of unusual or non-sequitur activity such as trying to get a dog through an obstacle course, stacking a house of cards or enticing a bird of prey to fly onto his arm. Riley is occasionally involved in these segments. These segments do not take place in the numbers rounds.

Apart from during the first two specials, there are two contestants on each team, with Richardson and Lock as permanent guests. During some rounds, contestants all offer an answer but only the best answer from each team counts. During some rounds, one player per team is nominated to give an answer.

A celebrity appears in Dictionary Corner, and, after each numbers round, they present a poem, song or other comedic segment. Susie Dent's "Origin of Words" section does not appear, but is instead replaced with an additional segment from the guest.

In earlier episodes, Joe Wilkinson appeared as Riley's assistant in the second half of the show, often dressed in costume whilst using props. The humour continued throughout the series, such as Wilkinson offered special prizes, replacing letter tiles with symbols, or turning up despite having been "fired". During Wilkinson's sketches Robert Deaton (as Wilkinson's half-brother Fabio) sometimes appears.


In addition to two specials, the show has aired 118 episodes since its premiere on 2 January 2012.



The first mashup was watched by 2.49 million viewers, making it the second most watched Channel 4 show that week.[12] The next episode, part of "Funny Fortnight", received 1.76 million viewers, which was an 8.3% audience share.[13] The 2014 Christmas special was watched by 1.75 million viewers: a 7.6% audience share.[14]


In 2014, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown was nominated for the British Comedy Awards in two categories: Best Comedy Panel Programme and Best Comedy Moment of 2014.[15][16] Sean Lock was also nominated for Best Male Television Comic, and Joe Wilkinson was nominated for Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist.[9]


  1. ^ "Jimmy Carr to Host Countdown". 16 November 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  2. ^ "8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown". Channel 4. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  3. ^ "8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown". Channel 4. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  4. ^ Eames, Tom (9 July 2013). "'8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown' ordered for full series by Channel 4". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  5. ^ "8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown - All 4". www.channel4.com.
  6. ^ "8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown". Channel 4.
  7. ^ "Channel 4 orders more 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown". British Comedy Guide. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Rachel Riley on Twitter". Twitter.
  9. ^ a b Alexander, Susannah (25 November 2014). "8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown gets Christmas special and new series". Digital Spy. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  10. ^ "8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown". UKGameshows.com. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  11. ^ "8 Out of 10 Cats does Countdown 7". 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. 21 minutes in. And here's your teaser. The words are "GONADTIP" and the clue is "One way to become a parent."
  12. ^ Top 10 Programmes Archived 18 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine - BARB. Select Channel 4 and 2012 > January > 2 – 8 Jan
  13. ^ "Channel 4's Funny Fortnight - 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  14. ^ "8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown - Christmas Special". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  15. ^ Finbow, Katy (10 November 2014). "Toast of London, Harry and Paul lead British Comedy Awards nominations". Digital Spy. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Winners 2014". British Comedy Awards. Retrieved 18 January 2015.

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