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Like many people out there I have watched Countdown for a long time, the youngest I can remember watching it was when I'd only been at primary school a short while. I don't have many early memories of Countdown, I think generally back then I was as good as most contestants and was fairly solid on each discipline of the game. In those days I would concentrate on suffixes and prefixes to find words, I didn't have the word knowledge back then to find the more obscure offerings I conjure up today in Countdown and Scrabble. My natural ability was always in maths and science rather than language - I've never been remotely interested in literature and foreign languages. Reading this it may surprise some that I've the ability to do well with word games, but I've always considered anagramming a mathematical skill and my experiences in Scrabble seem to confirm this.

Appearing on Countdown has always been something in the back of my mind. It wasn't however seriously considered until after I had played Scrabble competitively. A lot of previous series winners have been tournament Scrabblers, or have gone on to become one. The big problem for those who play Scrabble first and then go onto Countdown is they use different word authorities. Scrabble has roughly twice as many words allowed as Countdown - so suddenly a Scrabbler has a lot of their arsenal wiped out. Every word I've had disallowed on Countdown for instance would have been valid in Scrabble. Playing word games like Scrabble however does aid your anagramming ability, which of course helps you play Countdown well so it's not all bad.

With the difficulties in switching lexicon I'd decided I needed to get on Countdown before I got too heavily into Scrabble. Problems with my eyes meant I ended up sending my Countdown application later than I had intended. About three months later I took my audition in Newcastle. It was a fairly informal affair with six wannabe contestants writing down the pre-prepared selections as the producer Damian Eadie read them out. There were six letters rounds most of which had a nine letter word, two numbers rounds and four conundrum rounds at the end which were 'just for fun'. I got the maximum on nine of the twelve rounds. I think as long as you do reasonably well and aren't awful on the numbers you generally get through. About a week later I got the letter saying I'd gotten through the auditions and just another couple or so months after that I was filming my heats.

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