When we think of Countdown, the jaunty theme tune is probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, there’s one person who’s become a truly iconic fixture on the show over the years.
Lexicographer Susie Dent has appeared in the famous Dictionary Corner on the Channel 4 game show since 1992, celebrating 30 years as part of the Countdown crew last year.
Without Susie, quite simply, there would be no Countdown and, luckily for us, she still loves sharing all her wordy knowledge with contestants and viewers as much as she did when she joined.
Although should a time come when Susie, now 58, wants to spread her wings, there is one thing that would make her consider quitting.
She spilled the beans to Metro.co.uk, revealing why she’s stayed on Countdown all this time.
‘Not in a million years would I have imagined I would still be there,’ she began. ‘During the first 10 years, I was one of many and still working in my publishing job on dictionaries and there were lots of us who rotated in the corner.
‘What has kept me there are two things. One is, without sounding too cheesy, it is genuinely like a family. It’s very unusual in TV shows and there’s no quick turnover of staff. A lot of the camera crew have been there almost as long as I have, our producer Damien is a former contestant. It’s really tight-knit.
‘The other thing is the format, because no matter who is working on the show, it’s all about the pull of the numbers and the letters, you can’t help playing along.’
She added with a smile: ‘It’s very simple, you win a teapot, you don’t win big money! The contestants are there because they genuinely love the show, not because they give good answers on telly or they’re funny… I think that’s quite beautiful.’
On what would make her reconsider her Countdown future, she said: ‘I genuinely can’t imagine what it would be. People sometimes ask if I get bored because it seems like a very repetitive thing that I’m doing, but it’s honestly not. It’s a new challenge every time.
‘I have the best seat in the house with a guest next to me, as soon as the clock starts ticking, I feel the adrenaline.
‘I would say boredom but I don’t think that’s gonna happen! I just feel very lucky.’
‘Long may it continue and I’ll be there as long as they want me and the viewers want me,’ Susie declared, and, honestly? We’ll always want her.
Outside of Countdown, Susie has achieved real notoriety on Twitter with her Word of the Day tweets.
Explaining where the series originated from, the TV personality said she loves to share ‘obsolete words’ that she believes we need to ‘bring back’ and, amazingly, she doesn’t keep track of them or plan them!
‘They’re genuinely spur of the moment,’ she insisted. ‘I may have read the news, it may be how I’m feeling that morning, it will just be something that occurs to me.
‘It’s quite interesting because, particularly if I put an insult out there, people will always take that and apply it to someone they want to insult. It doesn’t matter who I have in mind. People pick them up and run with them, and I love that because that’s what they’re there for. It’s not for me to make a massive point or anything.’
Susie Dent’s Word of the Day for Metro.co.uk
Lickspigot: the friend or acquaintance who always drops by when you’re opening a bottle of wine.
Despite not having any major intentions with her tweets, there’s no denying that some of them are very on-the-nose and have political undertones, so is this always intentional?
‘Sometimes I get exasperated by the news, but other times it’s all about myself,’ Susie stated.
‘One of the most memorable ones I posted was a word from the Scotts, “hingum-tringum”, and it means barely presentable or just about hanging together. I was having one of those mornings where I felt like I was not achieving anything, and yet my timeline was full of pictures of Boris Johnson, so people immediately took that one, but it was all about me!’
For her latest project, Susie is working with Lloyds Bank to help bring some clarity to the cost of living crisis.
After a study found that 29% of people don’t understand the term “inflation”, the bank teamed up with language expert Susie to jargon-bust misunderstood phrases and explain why finances shouldn’t be a taboo topic.
On why it was important for her to get involved in the campaign, Susie said that language surrounding money should be ‘accessible’.
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