Countdown creator Marcel Stellman dies as Carol Vorderman pays tribute

Countdown creator Marcel Stellman has sadly passed away aged 96.

His nephew has confirmed the sad news in a social media statement on behalf of the heartbroken family.

It read: "It is with our deepest sorrow we share with you news of the death of our beloved Uncle – Marcel Stellman, 96, who passed away late last night.

"Marcel is survived by his beloved wife Jean."

Former Countdown star Carol Vorderman has since paid a touching tribute to Marcel.

She penned: "I am so sorry to hear this news Mark….x

"Marcel and Jeanie and I had so many very happy decades together, forging a path for Countdown in the early days and working hard together to make it the juggernaut it then became…. Happy days. A great life well lived."

Fans have also remembered Marcel in touching social media tributes.

One fan penned: "Just heard the news that Marcel Stellman, the creator of Countdown (and composer of the song, Tulips From Amsterdam) passed away yesterday at the age of 96. Wonderful man. Once went to his incredible London home for the most memorable dinner party. What a guy. Sleep well, Mr S."

Another added: "RIP. He leaves behind a great legacy of Countdown."

A third person posted: "He really was the most amazing man. What a legacy he leaves behind."

While a former colleague wrote: "So sad to hear the news this morning. I worked with Marcel for many years on Countdown and what a gentleman he was.

"So passionate about the programme and what a legacy to leave behind. Thinking of his beautiful, loyal wife Jeannie and his family at this sad time."

Stellman, who hailed from Belgium, was a record producer and lyricist and penned songs for stars including Cilla Black, Petula Clark, The Shadows and Tony Bennett.

He is best known in the UK as the man who brought the French show Des chiffres et des lettres to the UK as Countdown.

Stellman's long association with the BBC began in the 1940s and 50s when he presented schools and children's radio programming.

In the 1960s, he worked on a television series for children in the 1960s featuring Pinky and Perky, two singing puppet pigs.

He stood in for Alan Dell, presenting 'Sounds Easy' on BBC Radio 2 in the 1980s.

Countdown was the first programme to be aired on Channel 4, and 82 series have been broadcast since its debut on 2 November 1982.

With over 7,000 episodes, Countdown is one of the longest-running game shows in the world, along with the original French version.

The programme was presented by Richard Whiteley for almost 23 years, until his death in June 2005.

It was then presented by Des Lynam until the end of 2006, Des O'Connor until the end of 2008 and Jeff Stelling until the end of 2011.

Nick Hewer has presented the show since 2012, although it was announced on 10 November 2020 that Colin Murray would host editions filmed during the second coronavirus lockdown.

The Weakest Link star Anne Robinson is set to become the first-ever female host of Countdown when she takes over as presenter later this year.

Carol Vorderman, the show's co-host, who had been on the programme since it began, left the show in December 2008, at the same time as Des O'Connor. She was replaced by Rachel Riley.

  • Carol Vorderman

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