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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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North Cumbrian man bidding to be Countdown champion

When Paul James was growing up, a highlight of his time after school was watching the TV game show Countdown.

Paul James photo
Paul James

This year, the long-time fan went a step further and appeared on the programme – winning his eight-show run.

Now Paul, from Brampton, hopes to go one better and become the current series’ champion.

He believes he could be the first Cumbrian to take the title.

Paul, 43, said he was delighted with his success but that the upcoming contest would be a different affair.

“I’m very excited to reach the quarter finals but the competition is going to be extremely strong,” he said.

These contests involve the highest achievers on the game show, broadcast on Channel 4 since 1982, in a series run.

The show has already been recorded but Paul is sworn to secrecy over how well he has done until after the episode is transmitted next week.

After the quarter finals come the semis and grand final, which will be broadcast the week before Christmas.

“I have to be at my absolute best,” said Paul.

The programme was filmed in Manchester and Paul has been impressed with the way it is run.

“It has got a definite feeling of being a family rather than a TV programme,” he said.

A typical episode lasts 45 minutes but is filmed in around an hour.

He has been especially impressed with Rachel Riley, who handles the numbers and letters.

“She does the maths just there and then.”

Paul finds the numbers game the hardest part of being on Countdown.

He explained that the difficulty comes in shutting out the studio audience to concentrate, and then making sure all the working is written down properly.

However, he has not had the same angst regarding words and has scored highly on both the letters round and conundrum.

His trick has been to write the letters in a circle and then see words from this.

“I have been watching it more or less since it started in 1982.

“I used to watch it when I came home from school.”

He is a mature student and lives in Brampton with his wife Louise Hall-James, a home carer, and his step-children Adam, 19, and Ashpon, 18.

His quarter final appearance will be broadcast on Wednesday.

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