The Queen has sent a message of congratulations to TV quiz Countdown to mark its 5,000th episode. Her private secretary wrote to the Channel 4 programme to extend the Queen's congratulations on the 'significant achievement'. The letter said: "Her Majesty has asked me to say that she was interested to learn of the event and sends her good wishes to you and to everyone involved with the show, congratulations on this significant achievement." More than 50 series of the afternoon quiz show have been broadcast since Countdown's debut on November 2, 1982, when it was hosted by Carol Vorderman and the late Richard Whiteley. Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling described presenting Countdown with maths wiz Rachel Riley and Susie Dent in Dictionary Corner as his 'dream job'. "I get to work with two gorgeous ladies in Rachel and Susie, while chuckling along in private to all the unbroadcastable comments that fill my earpiece from the producer," he said. Rachel, who took over from Carol after a pay dispute in which the original maths expert was asked to take a significant pay cut, said: "It's great working with Jeff, Susie and the team. It doesn't feel like work and I love it - although I get the mick taken for my spurious spelling. "The contestants are all lovely and it's great to celebrate people being clever. I got to know some of them really well and am pleased how nice, supportive and helpful everyone has been to me since I took over."
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.