Dubliner crowned ‘Countdown’ series champion

Mark Murray scored 105 points in final of Channel 4 series, with words such as ‘elongates’

A Dubliner has been crowned the first Irish champion of the Channel 4 word-game Countdown, which is presented by Nick Hewer (centre) and features Susie Dent (left) and Rachel Riley (right). Photograph: Channel 4 Website.

A Dubliner has been crowned the first Irish champion of the Channel 4 word-game Countdown, which is presented by Nick Hewer (centre) and features Susie Dent (left) and Rachel Riley (right). Photograph: Channel 4 Website.

 

A Dubliner has been crowned the first Irish champion of the Channel 4 word-game Countdown.

Bristol-based Mark Murray (36) lifted the Richard Whiteley Memorial Trophy today after a scintillating grand final against Londoner Andy Naylor.

Mr Murray scored 105 points in the final with words such as “squalor”, “notarise” and “solacing”.

He got off to a fast start when he opened the show with the nine-letter word “elongates”.

The Blanchardstown man became the first Countdown winner from the Republic. The competition has had two previous winners from the North.

Mr Murray, who works in credit control for UK firm Ovo Energy, excelled in nearly all rounds. He solved two of the four number games but neither contestant was able to figure the conundrum, which was “amaryllis”.

Mr Naylor, an account manager from Hendon, put up a good fight but ultimately his score of 70 fell well short on the day.

Mr Murray, a DIT graduate, impressed throughout the 70th series of the programme. The former Bank of Ireland employee consistently performed well in the words and numbers rounds.

He accumulated the season’s highest score of 120 points in mid-April and went on to notch up eight successive wins.

He was the number one seed going into the final against number three seed Mr Naylor.

“It was a great contestant I was up against as well so it’s amazing,” said Mr Murray.

His prize includes a silver trophy, a laptop and a 20-volume collection of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Mr Murray first appeared on the programme as a 20 year old in 1999 but was “trounced” by 65 points to 25.

He has been seeking to raise funds for the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland and Breakthrough Cancer Research, which he said were “very worthy causes (that) mean a lot to me”.