Here is Nick Hewer, PR man-turned-celebrity thanks to a brilliant nine-year spell as Lord Sugar’s aide on The Apprentice. As the hapless candidates made one questionable decision after another, Nick’s over-the-shoulder scowls and witticisms in the boardroom quickly became one of the show’s biggest draws. There were even blogs dedicated to these delightful moments.
Nick became more familiar to me in 2012, when he was, rather unexpectedly, chosen to be the new presenter of Countdown, succeeding the fantastic Jeff Stelling. Even besides his lack of presenting experience, it seemed an odd transition, from cocky business wannabes to friendly grannies and bookish teenagers after only a dictionary and teapot. It would require a very different approach. Indeed, it took Hewer a long time to acclimatise; his charisma exhibited on The Apprentice didn’t seem to translate, leaving only an uncomfortably terse, tactless manner which left me cold…
…though the media would have me in the minority. ‘Unlikely Sex Symbol Has Revitalised Countdown’, shouted the tabloids. Well, go Nick! These stories came just days before someone, apparently in a complimentary mood, approached me and told me I resemble ‘what’s his name… that bloke who does Countdown now’. I’m quite sure after that comment, I wore an expression more of Hewer mould than ever before… though, in retrospect, I’m certain it was just her roundabout way of calling me an unlikely sex symbol. (Pff! ‘Unlikely’!?)
Nick soon settled in and won me over, though his penchant for saying completely the wrong thing and rendering contestants bemused has never really gone away, it’s just become increasingly amusing. Now, Nick has presented almost a thousand episodes of Countdown, continuing on even after retiring from The Apprentice. It’s nice to see the show rekindle some semblance of familiarity, for that is as central to Countdown as the games themselves, and the absence of such is likely why it had previously struggled in the post-Whiteley era. Long may Nick reign!