Date: 8th April 2009 at 3:02pm
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To celebrate the release of Jeff Stelling‘s new book, Jellyman Throws A Wobbly, Vital Hartlepool caught up with Hartlepool’s most famous supporter to get his views on all things football.

In this multi-part interview we discuss his new book, Soccer Saturday, Countdown, the climax of the Premier League season and, of course, Pools.

Today we talk to about Countdown.

Vital Hartlepool: Onto your newest job, Countdown, how’s it going so far?

Jeff Stelling: It’s going well. It’s very different, I never thought I’d be sitting in Richard Whiteley’s chair but it’s good fun. It’s the sort of thing I’ve never done before and, to be honest, it’s a bit of light relaxation compared to the football.

I work with some really, really nice people and it makes it very enjoyable. There’s been one or two negative stories in the press recently which is frankly a load of old b*****ks.

Hopefully the viewing figures will continue to improve as they have done already, whatever one or two stories have said. Countdown in a way is a bit like Soccer Saturday, in the sense that it seems to have been there forever and there’s no reason why it can’t go on and on hopefully.

VH: It’s on at a time when a lot of people are at work and picking kids up from school which I don’t imagine helps.

JS: It is a curious time to go out, to be honest. But that’s what the powers that be decide and they want to build an audience for what goes on later in the afternoon, Deal or No Deal and the like, and it’s Countdown’s job of building that audience.

But it definitely is good fun and the thing about Countdown is that people just come on to have a bit of fun.

It’s not like a mega quiz show where you win a fortune, it’s not Who Wants to be a Millionaire. You win a bloody teapot! So you can have fun and there’s nobody losing a fortune at the end of the day.

VH: Even so, it must have been daunting taking over such a popular quiz show.

JS: Yeah, it was. Especially as I’d never done anything like it before and I had no way of knowing whether I’d be able to do it or not. As well as Richard Whiteley you also had Des Lynam who’s a hero of mine and I thought if it’s good enough for Des it’s good enough for me.

It was slightly daunting at first, it was a live audience which I’d never really worked with but I really enjoy it now.

VH: How did you end up with the job?

JS: The funny thing is that, like a lot of things, football was the common thread. The excecutive producer of Countdown is a big Blackpool supporter and so he watches Soccer Saturday religiously and basically he enquired if I was interested through my agent and we said yes.

I never realistically thought that I’d be offered the job because there were so many names seemingly interested at the time. One thing led to another and the guy who initially made the offer was my biggest supporter throughout.

We get on terrifically well and now when we’re not on Countdown we can talk about football!

Click here to read part 4 of our exclusive interview.

Click here to win copies of Jeff’s new book

Click Here for Jeff Stelling Week


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