I have been watching and playing
Countdown on and off ever since it first came on Channel 4 in 1982, and finally I appeared on it in March 2003. I managed to win 5 shows and thus qualify for the end of series quarter finals. I won my quarter final before losing in the semi final to the eventual series champion. I used Ken Ebborn's Letters & Numbers programme to get a load of practice in before I went up to Leeds, and you can find that program (and many more recent ones like it) as well as more information about the programme via The Countdown Page.
www.andrewtatham.co.uk & www.andrewtatham.org.uk