Countdown wizard: Sheffield teen Jonathan Rawlinson wins £1,000 on TV show

Sheffield student Jonathan Rawlinson on Channel 4's Countdown
Sheffield student Jonathan Rawlinson on Channel 4's Countdown

A SHEFFIELD teenager has been making his mark on TV’s Countdown, winning eight games to reach last Friday’s final.

Jonathan Rawlinson of Fulwood was runner-up and won a prize of £1,000 (which he secretly believes was better than the set of encyclopaedia the winner collected).

Watching the Channel 4 word game is notorious as the favourite pastime of slacker students and the 19-year-old former Birkdale pupil admits he got on the programme because he has been at home on a gap year before going to Cambridge to do a maths degree.

“I started watching it and playing along and realised I was doing pretty well so I applied to go on and passed an audition in January,” he reports. Filming took place over three days but broadcast was spread out over three weeks and he was sworn to secrecy about the outcome.

He reckons the key to his success was some of the obscure words he was able to play, such as senecio (a kind of daisy) and nardoos (a fern), which sounds as if he did a lot of preparation.

”It wasn’t quite as extreme as reading the dictionary, but I did a bit, mostly online word games.”

His success did not go unnoticed among old schoolfriends and fellow members of the City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra who posted congratulations via social media.

Even better, he has been recognised by complete strangers. “I got spotted at the train station by a group who turned out to be fans of the show. I thought that was quite something.”

Romantic in the cells

THE last time Gary Kemp was in Sheffield he played the Arena with his band Spandau Ballet. 

On Monday he was back – interviewing local writer JP Bean, for a documentary on gangs, to be shown on the History Channel next spring.

Alaska TV, which is making the series, filmed them talking at various locations around the city, notably Sky Edge and Princess Street, where the 1920s gang wars came to a climax with the murder of William Plommer.

“Gary seemed fascinated by the Mooney and Garvin stories but I wasn’t too surprised because him and his brother played the Krays in the movie,” says Bean. “We went to the Police and Fire Museum at West Bar. It’s not every day I end up in a cell with a New Romantic.”

Linda tickled pink

Birds of a Feather Linda Robson and Pauline Quirke – at the Lyceum last week – were tickled when they arrived for a birthday celebration at Silversmiths in Arundel Street to be festooned with multicoloured plumes. “Its the best night out we’ve had on the tour,” said Pauline.