The final Countdown? Fall in viewers to just 260,000 could spell the end for Channel 4's iconic teatime show
- Tuesday's edition of the show had its lowest ever viewing figures
- The show also struggled to reach 400,000 on other days this week
- There are now concerns that it may be taken off the air
Concerns: Following disastrous recent viewing figures, there are concerns that the Channel 4 show Countdown may be taken off the air. This is the glamorous presenter Rachel Riley
It has been one of TVs most popular and iconic shows - enjoyed by both students and pensioners alike.
But following disastrous recent viewing figures, there are concerns that Channel 4's Countdown may be taken off the air.
Tuesday's edition of the letter and numbers show - which is presented by Nick Hewer and Rachel Riley - was watched by just 260,000 viewers, the lowest in its history.
The show also struggled to reach 400,000 on other days this week.
This is compared to four million when Countdown was at its peak under Richard Whiteley and Carol Voderman.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, a TV source said: 'Countdown is cheap to make but these figures are very worrying.
'The clock is ticking and this signals the beginning of the end. How much longer will they stick with something that has lost so many viewers?'
Countdown is one of Channel 4s most important shows, and was the first show to be broadcast when the channel was launched in 1982.
Until his death in 2005, it was presented by fans favourite Richard Whiteley.
Des Lynam then took over followed by Des O'Connor. Carol Voderman left the show as the mathematical genius in 2008.
Riley took over her role in 2009 with Jeff Stelling also presenting it.
In 2011 Stelling said he was leaving and in January last year Hewer took over.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Channel 4 said it had no plans to drop the show and said it remains a core part of its daytime schedule.
Countdown was the first programme to be aired on Channel 4, and more
than 65 series have been broadcast since its debut on 2 November 1982.
With over 5,000 episodes, it is one of the longest-running game shows in the world.
Figures have plunged by two thirds from 1.3 million since the programme
was re-launched with Stelling as host and Oxford graduate Rachel Riley
as the numbers expert in January 2009.
Fans say the programme is simply not the same without Whiteley, and that axing Carol Vorderman was another nail in the coffin.
Around 1.8million tuned in for Miss Vorderman’s last show and there was a
public outcry after she revealed Channel 4 bosses told her to take a 90
per cent pay cut, from £800,000, to keep her job.
The 51-year-old claims she was effectively forced out – and executives then searched for a new and much cheaper star.
Miss Riley beat more than 1,000 applicants to be named as her replacement and is understood to be paid £100,000 a year.
Current presenter Nick Hewer with colleagues Susie Dent, left, and Rachel Riley
Popular: Richard Whiteley presented the Channel 4 show for more than 20 years. He is pictured with Cathy Hytner and Carol Vorderman in 1986
She caused a stir with her racy and short outfits but even that has failed to capture viewers' attention for long.
COUNTDOWN IN NUMBERS
1 - First Channel 4 show broadcast
65 - Number of shows broadcast
5,000 More than 5,000 episodes broadcast
100,000 Amount Miss Riley is paid a year
260,000 Viewing figures for Tuesday
4m Number of viewers at peak
Riley has been known for her enviable figure in a range of outfits which leave little to the imagination.
But the parade of plunging necklines and rising hemlines was said to have irritated her bosses – and even some viewers.
Miss Riley graduated with a 2.1 from Oriel College, Oxford. What to wear on the show was a challenge from day one.
‘I made lots of fashion mistakes and got criticism for what I wore – especially the frumpy jumpers and baggy clothes that made me look older and bigger than I am,’ she told an interviewer.
‘With a lot of help from the show’s stylist, I now stick to smart, simple and feminine dresses. About twice a year, the stylist and I go shopping on Regent Street.’
However, not all viewers welcomed her brand of fashion sense.
Writing on Twitter, one said: ‘I’m fed up of Rachel Riley’s a** in my face every time I watch Countdown. Give up the figure hugging dresses and become more demure.’
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