Anne Robinson: when will Weakest Link presenter become Countdown host - and why did Nick Hewer leave?
Robinson will replace Hewer on the show in 2021
Anne Robinson has been revealed as Countdown’s first ever female host.
The TV presenter, best known for heading game show The Weakest Link, will replace Nick Hewer on the Channel 4 quiz show and join mathematician Rachel Riley and lexicographer Susie Dent.
Robinson’s role was announced on Monday 15 February during an episode of Steph’s Packed Lunch.
So, why did Nick Hewer leave the daytime show, when will Anne Robinson take over - and how long did she host The Weakest Link?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Why did Nick Hewer leave Countdown?
Hewer, 76, confirmed in December 2020 that he would be leaving Countdown after a decade.
The presenter took over as host from Sky Sports journalist Jeff Stelling in 2011, and his first episode was broadcast in 2012.
Announcing his departure via Twitter, Hewer said the coronavirus pandemic had led him to rethink his career path.
"Delighted to be back in the Countdown studio after another enforced lockdown, BUT this latest lockdown has given me an opportunity to consider my future life and I've decided it's a good time to step down at the end of my contract in the New Year,” he wrote.
"As someone in his 77th year who will be in his 10th year hosting the great British institution that is Countdown, I think it's time to smell the flowers and get a dog."
Hewer added that it had been a “privilege and a pleasure” to host the popular quiz show and that he would still appear on-screen during 2021.
How has Anne Robinson reacted?
Robinson, 76, said she was “beyond thrilled” to be hosting Countdown, joking that the “show is almost as old as I am and just as historic”.
The sharp-witted presenter said she was particularly looking forward to joining the show’s other two “formidable women”, Dent and Riley.
She added: "Three Clever Girls Do Countdown! Don't you love the sound of that? Worryingly, Susie and Rachel are not only very smart but younger, prettier and thinner than me.
"Sadly, there's no time for another facelift so I'll have to make do with this old one," she joked in response to previous speculation over her plastic surgery.
"I am a crossword nut so the Countdown's conundrums I can make sense of. But the adding up and taking away - I can't go much further than working out the fee once my agent takes his cut.
"I'm slightly scared of those brains but I think the three of us will transform things, it will be Countdown goes chic, won't it?"
Robinson is no stranger to the show, as she appeared in Countdown’s Dictionary Corner for a week in 1987 alongside late host Richard Whiteley.
Remembering the experience, she said: “I was so in awe of the great Richard Whiteley. I think I only said 'Good afternoon' and 'Goodbye'.
“Who thought I'd have the chance to follow in his giant footsteps?"
It seems Robinson is a popular appointment within Channel 4, with head of daytime at the channel, Jo Street, saying: "I am a huge fan of Anne and her quick wit. I am immensely proud that this ferociously smart woman will be joining the show as host alongside the brilliant Rachel Riley and Susie Dent."
And Countdown executive producer Peter Gwyn said viewers will "relish Anne's unique style at the helm of this much-loved institution."
When did Robinson host The Weakest Link?
She became a household name when she fronted BBC shows Watchdog and Points Of View over the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
But Robinson’s fame exploded while she hosted The Weakest Link from 2000 until 2012.
The TV presenter was revered for her sharp retorts and iconic catchphrase, “You are the weakest link, goodbye”, which she bluntly said to each contestant when they exited the show.
Speaking about the infamous saying, Robinson told Steph’s Packed Lunch that she had come up with the catchphrase on the show’s pilot after she “got really cheesed off” with a contestant and added the “goodbye”.
She said she was planning to “tone down” her “nastiness” on Countdown.
When will she take over on Countdown?
Robinson will become the show’s sixth host, following Whiteley, Des Lynam, Des O'Connor, Jeff Stelling and Hewer.
Her first episode in the hot seat is set to be broadcast in late spring or early summer.
Countdown is shown on weekdays at 2:10pm on Channel 4.