8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (also known as simply Cats Does Countdown and Catsdown) is a crossover between the panel game 8 Out of 10 Cats and the game show Countdown. The show follows the format of Countdown, but with hosts and contestants from 8 Out of 10 Cats, and an emphasis on humour.
The first episode aired as part of Channel 4's "mash-up night" on 2 January 2012; the first full series was aired in July 2013 and multiple series have since been commissioned. Episodes feature Jimmy Carr as host; two teams of two contestants feature in most episodes, with Sean Lock and Jon Richardson as permanent team captains (various other personalities, such as Lee Mack, Sarah Millican, Bill Bailey and Claudia Winkleman, deputise when either captain is unavailable to film). Rachel Riley and Susie Dent take up their regular roles from Countdown; Joe Wilkinson appears in many episodes as Rachel's assistant and has also stood in as a team captain.
On 2 January 2012, a special episode of Countdown aired as part of a special "mash-up night" celebrating Channel 4's 30th birthday. Jimmy Carr took over as host alongside Rachel Riley. Sean Lock and Jon Richardson competed as contestants and Joe Wilkinson joined Susie Dent in Dictionary Corner. The show consisted of four letters rounds, two numbers rounds and the conundrum, interspersed with 8 Out of 10 Cats-style banter.
A second Countdown special was broadcast on 24 August 2012 as part of Channel 4's "Funny Fortnight". Once again, Lock and Richardson were contestants; Carr was host, and Riley and Dent returned to their roles too. In the dictionary corner, Susie was this time joined by David O'Doherty. Wilkinson and past contestant Clarke Carlisle also featured. In this edition there were five letters rounds, four numbers rounds and a conundrum.
Two further specials aired in April 2013, with Lee Mack playing against Richardson, as Lock was unwell. In addition to the regulars, these specials also featured Rhod Gilbert, Rob Beckett, Stephen Mangan and Richard Osman as contestants, Tim Key and Henning Wehn in dictionary corner, and Wilkinson as Riley's "personal assistant".
On 9 July 2013, Channel 4 announced it had commissioned a full series of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown to air later in the summer; six episodes aired from July to September. The final episode of the series was part of Channel 4's "80s Night". The opening sequence featured the standard title sequence for 8 Out of 10 Cats interspersed with images of the title sequence that Countdown used in the 1980s.
Another series of six episodes began on 3 January 2014 and ended on 28 February 2014.
Recordings for a new series of six episodes began on 19 May 2014. The first episode was broadcast on 6 June 2014, with the series originally scheduled to end on 11 July 2014; however, it was stretched to seven episodes and therefore ended on 18 July 2014. Another four episodes were recorded on 2 and 16 July 2014; the first recording was episode seven of Series 3. The next three episodes began airing from 5 September 2014 and concluded on 19 September 2014.
Rachel Riley confirmed via Twitter on 19 September 2014 that more episodes of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown would be filmed for 2015. It was announced in November that the show would have a Christmas special, followed by a new six-episode series. Episodes for the fifth series were recorded throughout December 2014 with one of the episodes also being recorded on 1 February 2015. Recording for series 6 began on 5 March 2015 and its broadcast in May 2015, with further recordings expected in May, June and July 2015.
Further recordings also took place in November and December 2015. Another Christmas Special aired on 8 December 2015 and another six-part series began in January 2016. A further series followed in 2016, beginning in August and running through October.
Including advertising breaks, an episode lasts an hour. However, the first special lasted only 30 minutes. Due to the comedy interspersed between and during rounds, the game does not consist of the standard 15 rounds. The first few specials had different numbers of rounds ranging from 7 to 10. In the two full series of the show, there were either 8 or 9 rounds. The first three quarters of the show contained a letters round and a numbers round; the last section had a letters round, a numbers round (if there was time) and a conundrum.
The letters and numbers rounds are the same as in Countdown, and there are also "Teatime teasers". The conundrums and teatime teasers typically contain sexual words or innuendos, such as "GONADTIP" (clue: "One way to become a parent", answer: "ADOPTING").
Whilst the clock is ticking, as the contestants attempt to find a word or reach the target from the numbers, Jimmy Carr often takes part in some form of unusual or non-sequitur activity such as trying to get a dog through an obstacle course, eating dog biscuits or enticing a bird of prey to fly onto his arm. Rachel Riley is occasionally involved in these segments.
Apart from during the first two specials, there are two contestants on each team, with Jon and Sean as permanent guests. During some rounds, contestants all offer an answer but only the best answer from each team counts. During some rounds, one player per team is nominated to give an answer.
A celebrity appears in Dictionary Corner, and, after each numbers round, they present a poem, song or other humorous segment. Susie Dent's "Origin of Words" section does not appear, but is instead replaced with an additional segment from the guest.
In earlier episodes, Joe Wilkinson appeared as Rachel's assistant in the second half of the show, often dressed in odd costumes and bringing unusual props. Jokes continue on throughout a series, such as Joe offered special prizes, replacing letter tiles with symbols or turning up despite having been fired. During Wilkinson's sketches Robert Deaton (as Wilkinson's half-brother Fabio) sometimes appears.
Since 2016 Wilkinson has appeared sporadically as a contestant.
Most episodes have garnered over 2.5 million viewers. The first mashup was watched by 2.49 million viewers, making it the second most watched Channel 4 show that week. The next episode, part of "Funny Fortnight", received 1.76 million viewers, which was an 8.3% audience share. The 2014 Christmas special was watched by 1.75 million viewers: a 7.6% audience share.
In 2014, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown was nominated for the British Comedy Awards in two categories: Best Comedy Panel Programme and Best Comedy Moment of 2014. Sean Lock was also nominated for Best Male Television Comic, and Joe Wilkinson was nominated for Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist.