Jonny Rye, a French and Politics undergraduate at Southampton University and our old Sports Editor, will be battling against consonants and vowels on Countdown this Tuesday.  We caught up with him to find out what it’s like to be a contestant on Channel 4’s longest running show, and if there was any trash talk on set. 

There are a lot of UK game shows. What made you apply for Countdown?

It all started last Easter holidays when I would watch TV all day because there was nothing else to do (except revision). I would play along with the show and find I could beat the contestants more often than not, so I thought it would be a fun idea to apply. It was also the only game show I thought I had an actual chance of being successful on.

Having a riley good time at the Countdown studios

Having a RILEY good time at the Countdown studios

How did you train? Did you test yourself daily?

I ‘trained’ on a site called which is where anyone who has been a countdown champion in the last five years or so has practiced. Obviously ‘training’ took a back seat in exam periods but I was on the site a lot during the time between when I found out I would be on the show and the filming date.

Who was the first person you told when you found out you’d be on the show?

My mum who was in the room at the time.

When and where did the filming take place?

It took place in Media City, Salford on the 15th September 2014.

What were the people like on set? Was there trash talk amongst the contestants?

Everyone was really lovely and welcoming. Nick Hewer came and said hello and shook my hand, as did the celebrity guest, Dave Myers. Susie and Rachel also made themselves known to me and said good luck. The people backstage were also very friendly. There wasn’t any trash talk, it was more like “I just know I’m only going to be able to get a three letter word” and stuff like that.

Jonny with Susie Dent on set

Jonny with Susie Dent on set

Have you ever had the Countdown tune as your ringtone? Don’t lie!

I genuinely haven’t! I always have my phone on vibrate anyway.

You’re on your year abroad at the moment. Will you still be tuning in to watch?

I don’t know how exactly but I will find a way.

What words of advice would you give to anyone applying to be on Countdown?

If you’re willing to be any good at it, you have to give up some of your time but I thought it was worth it. You’ll also get to meet Rachel Riley.

You can watch Jonny’s Countdown debut at 14:10 on Tuesday 21st October on Channel 4.  Will you be watching? Let us know in the comments below!

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