Classic Game - Series 15 Prelim 6

Broadcast 18th April 1988

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This week, it's time for another high-scoring Countdown. Allan Saldanha made his debut appearance on the programme at the beginning of Series 15, at the tender age of ten - at the time he was the youngest ever contestant, and he needed to sit on two cushions to see over the desk! By the time of this match against Katy Green, Allan had already clocked up 5 wins, including three scores in the sixties.

The first round was unspectacular, but in Round 2, Allan triumphed with a nine-letter word, the rather impressive BARITONES. In the last letters game of the first half, Allan and Katy could only get five, whereas Clement Freud (on his sixth ever appearance) offered the seven-letter NOSEGAY. Allan offered an elegant solution to the first numbers game ((75+5-1)x6), but Katy could not match it. As we went to the break, the score was 38-5, and there only looked like being one winner.

Another pleasant-looking selection for Round 5 offered up the possibility of several sevens, but while Allan offered GAITERS, Katy could only manage CRATES. Mr Freud and resident lexicographer Julia Swannell offered the unusual AGRESTIC (meaning 'rural'). After Round 6 it was all over for the woman from Leeds, as she could only offer TRILATE against Allan's INTERVAL. It wasn't long enough, it had an extra T, and it wasn't in the dictionary - it just wasn't Katy's day! Who'd play against children, eh? Another good eight from Allan in the last letters game, and it was 61-5 with two rounds still to go. Allan selected one from the top and any other five, CECIL said "767" and both contestants got 10 points for their efforts - at least Katy would be spared the ignominy of going home with a single-figure score. Interest now turned to the conundrum, and it only took Allan one-and-a-half seconds to unravel COMBINING - the fifth consecutive day that he had got it right.

As you no doubt know, Allan went on to Countdown greatness, becoming an Octochamp and number one seed, narrowly losing in the Grand Final to Dick Green (but not without a bit of controversy!), beating Tim Morrissey (a Champion of Champions) in both the '1000th' programme and Countdown Masters, beating Series 23 Champion Gareth Williams in the '1500th' programme, and narrowly losing to Harvey Freeman in the Grand Final of the Supreme Championship. He also equalled Harvey's score of 83 during Series 33 (expect that to be a future Game of the Week!) - truly an incredible record!

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This review was originally published as Game of the Week - 4 Feb 2001.

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