Next Dimension: Countdown to 1990

Welcome to the nineties! And a return to the realm of game shows, furthermore a return to the evergreen Countdown, to which we’ve been quite carelessly oblivious for some time. I really should have gone all out and scheduled this to go out at half-past four, shouldn’t I? Never mind.

Count1990_S0In 1990, it was just Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman left of Countdown’s troupe of staff. Vorderman had, until this point, only been wheeled on to referee the numbers game; it was reputedly down to the laziness of the producer and his unwillingness to audition hopefuls that she was ‘promoted’ to Whiteley’s lone foil, but I think it proved to be a shrewd decision. It took some time, but eventually the chemistry blossomed and Countdown flourished, discarding the sterile formality of its infancy and becoming charming, convivial telly. Though I’m not sure I fully observed or appreciated it at the time, those are definitely qualities true of the show I grew up with.

Count1990-C2The Richard/Carol era was ushered in with a new set, replacing the pastel of the original with lots and lots of wood. It wasn’t the most lavish, was it? But then, I suppose it is Countdown we’re discussing – Hollywood may be nine letters, but it wouldn’t be allowed. It’s certainly not the most offensive set they’ve had – maybe that’s another project for another time? – but it is rather clinical, perhaps because it bears an uncanny resemblance to my dentist’s old waiting room. I can practically smell the surgery, and hear the drill upstairs. With Whiteley’s puns often as painful as pulling teeth, perhaps it’s a mercy I wasn’t around to see the show in this era!

Count1990_S1Tempted as I was to brag about how quickly this came together, I’m not sure it counts, as so many of the elements were simply lifted from my main graphics. It’s more of a redressing. This being said, the elements that were newly constructed – jagged walls, Dalek-esque panel desks – did prove a much less fearful build than anticipated, which made it fun. The majority of the process was cloning a single panel of wall and angling it as required. Then, another. And another. And a fourth, please, Carol…

Vorderman’s domain didn’t go unloved, being appropriately renovated and now placed on the same scene as the main stage. I’ve tried to make it look less dingy than it appears on the reference clips, but indeed, it looks a little strange for me doing so – perhaps revealing there was a good reason for the darker lighting! Or perhaps I’m just lousy at lighting scenes. I’d put money on that, actually.

The references I speak of were only charmingly fuzzy VHS rips of Countdown found on YouTube:

And I lifted the letters selection in my quick animated header from a notable outtake:

Poor Richard did find himself in some unfortunate situations over the years. It’s not so much the word being offered as it is his obvious astonishment and then the attempt to fumble through that makes it so amusing.

There we have it. Countdown. Again. I feel that, coupled with Millionaire, this has ended my latest game show gorge, but that’s by no means a guarantee (that’s a nine-letter word). Retain your vigilance (that’s a nine-letter word).

Well that’s all for now, anyway. It’s 5PM now (trust me!) and I think Oprah’s on next. Time to put the Master System on.

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30 comments
    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Phil! Relieved you can forgive my nerdgasm (sadly, not a nine-letter word – still pretty good though!)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Anthony King said:

    This is fantastic 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. annachayter said:

    Fabulous work Jacob. I do miss the old days of Carol and Richard.
    It is just not the same show now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks very much, Anna – you’re right, a bit of the magic has gone with the two of them. I do miss Richard. The game is the same though, thankfully, and that was always the ultimate draw for me. As long as that remains untouched, I’m sure I’ll be an avid viewer!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooo and ahhhh well done Jacob. The colors and the shading are outstanding in the game set.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks very much, Sharon! I did attempt to brighten it up a touch – it needed as much!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Catherine! It certainly is still going – you can get your fix when you visit!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      I hope the clock wasn’t going, as that took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to unscramble! Thanks Bill!

      Like

  4. Is the first one an actual world? ‘Cause all i could make was “sudwanker” .
    I don’t think we got Countdown over here ( well, we had a show by the same name, except it was a top 40 songs type of countdown) , but we had Wheel of Fortune, which seems kinda similar. Anyway, it makes me smile, because it reminds me of that episode of The IT Crowd when Moss goes on Countdown, and is befriended by the ultimate Countdown champion. “Yes, I won the 16th Countdown teapot. The teapot we all crave”. So good.
    Anyway, this is fun. You should keep going with it, and someday create some sort of animated story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Haha! Well, among the longest words you could make from that selection was WANKERS, which both contestants happened to offer on this one (obviously deleted) occasion.

      There was actually a Countdown clone in Australia, running a couple of years ago. It was called Letters and Numbers. I think they axed the show to air repeats of Countdown instead… I wonder if that’s still a thing? You should totally look out for it! If you love Scrabble, I think there’s a fair chance you’d get into this.

      There’s even a late-night comedy version, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown… y’know, British comedians + word game… 😉

      Yes! While searching for the wankers outtake, I found the IT Crowd clip and thought, “I know who would like this!” I did wonder if you’d seen it. I must confess that is the only episode of The IT Crowd I’ve seen in full.

      Thanks again! I’m not a natural when it comes to animation, so it always proves a bit of a slog, even as simple as making a clock hand move. I will certainly continue chipping away though!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh so that particular selection of letters was from the actual game? Haha, that’s golden. I just thought you were having a bit of fun with us there!
        Oh I didn’t realise we ever had one over here! I haven’t had an actual telly for years, so I dare say there’s been a lot I’ve missed!
        Oh my? Comedy version! YESSSS. I’ll be trawling the internet for that one later, mefinx 😉
        The IT Crowd is great! The earlier ones have Chris Morris ( so handsome), who is excellent as Denholm Reynholm. SO good. Then in later episodes Matt Berry comes along, and he’s bloody hilarious. They’re all good- it’s a great cast. I highly endorse the watching of more episodes!!!
        Yeah, animation is a laborious process. I used to want to be an animator , but I realised that I preferred the writing to the visual side of things. I personally just don’t have the patience, even though I know it’d be so rewarding to see finished results. But anyhow, whether you’re making animated images or not, so long as you’re deriving some joy and meaning from it is the main thing. And it seems that this is the case! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown – or Catsdown, as it has quite brilliantly come to be known – is all over YouTube. You should definitely give it a peek. Let’s hope one day Richard and Russell are on it. 😉

        I’ll certainly have to give The IT Crowd a look!

        Thanks once more. Yes – I like to wrap the challenging bits in stuff like this, that has some sort of meaning or nostalgic pull, to try and keep occupied and engaged in the process. This is why I’ve also been building fairground rides and windmills, etc. If I were just animating a generic clock or building a random studio, I don’t think I’d glean as much from it. But this is Countdown – I’m completely sold! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, good tactic. You could do an interactive one where we get to participate in a game somehow- even just trying to make a word from the one you’ve provided…maybe? I don’t mean to sound demanding at all there, haha 😉 “Cater to us and out thirst for word games, Jacob!”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jacob said:

        Hmm! Maybe I’ll give this some thought. (If it invites more of this, then it’s definitely worth considering!) It’d be nice to do some community, interactive participation-y stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Charlie! Oh, I’m certain you’d win the teapot. I’d be cheering you on – quite hysterically, as you can imagine – from my armchair! I’ve long been pestered about going on; it seems only right, but I’m put off by the knowledge that my brain would melt under studio lights! I don’t do pressure!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Michael. Yes – whenever I see Richard again, I remember how much I miss him on Countdown. A great man indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lee Hesketh said:

    Amazing work Jay. And I was dead chuffed I got that conundrum, its a proud day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      Thanks, Lee – especially as you’ve made your stance on Countdown clear before 😉 Ha ha! Oh, the sense of achievement must still be overwhelming. Well done!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacob said:

      I used to do the same with the numbers game when I recorded it – it’s often a torment. Then Rachel waltzes on, “there were quite a few ways to get this one.” Alright!

      Like

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