Axed: Letters and Numbers

Low-cost game show gets the chop by SBS -to be replaced by a foreign import.

Humble game-show Letters and Numbers has been axed by SBS.

The 6pm show starring host Richard Morecroft, wordsmith David Astle and mathemetician Lily Serna, is being replaced by its UK equivalent, Countdown. Both were based on the long-running French show Des chiffres et des lettres.

On the show’s official website SBS advises, “SBS has made a decision to rest Letters and Numbers and develop other programs so we can continue to offer new, great content to our audiences. The last episode will be transmitted on June 27.”

Lily Serna, who has become something a cult star, is working on a new show with SBS, Destination Flavour.

When it began in mid 2010 the show was the first-ever commission for Shine Australia as a low-cost strategy to give World News Australia a lead-in. Often the show is in the top 3 nightly shows for SBS. On Thursday it pulled 130,000 viewers.

For some time has been produced in-house by rights-holder SBS, bringing down the cost of the show even more. Now SBS will replace it with the UK version, presumably saving on more costs. But the move may damage the SBS spirit with viewers, axing a local product for a cheaper import.

On Twitter last night fans were shocked:

Leigh Sales
Is it true that SBS has cancelled Letters & Numbers??? No!!! That’s my favourite show.

Split Seconds
Can’t believe SBS cancelled Letters & Numbers. WHAT WILL LILY DO NOW? #favouriteshow

Ben Williams
Shattered that @SBS have cut ‘Letters & Numbers’. Goodbye, Lily Serna, my one true television love.

Jennifer Law
Spicks & Specks, GNW, TAYG, Letters & Numbers… Nice, fun, light entertainment shows where no-one cries over cakes and bricks are dying.

Jason Brown
Oh noes, it’s true. No more Letters & Numbers. But SBS will run countdown instead http://on.fb.me/NqaHpK I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT THIS

Fiona Scott-Norman ‏@FScottNorman
#LettersAndNumbers cancelled. Ridiculous decision. It’s surely the cheapest show on tv, and it’s gentle, intelligent and charming. Dumb call

Liz M ‏
Boo hiss #sbs #letters&numbers

47 Responses

  1. God damn it! Another refuge from all the shameless cross promting rubbish on commercial TV is gone! Literacy and numeracy is down. Girls esteem is down unless they are seen only as sex objects. They have a smart (hot) young woman that is damn smart and 2 blokes doing what makes us great….using their heads to solve problems and not pandering to teen emotions.

    So what does SBS do? They Axe the 3rd highest rating show they have! What kind of financial trouble are they in where they cant afford to run a big clock and some cardboard numbers and letters?!

    SBS are you on Drugs?!

  2. There’s still a chance of this decision being reversed if there is enough public support for the show (or perhaps the ABC being encouraged to pick it up instead). I encourage anyone who wants this to happen to visit lanfans.org/ — have a vote, leave a comment, spread the word.

  3. Reconsider Please SBS, I am a TAX Payer!!!
    It’s Cheap As…Move it to SBS2…SBS3…SBS4…Why cancel it?
    Other TV shows Kill my brain cells…Letters & Numbers made me heaps Smarter & Stuff…Australia faces major literacy & numecary issues & I am very…upset, saddened, let down, cast down, disheartened, downhearted, downcast, depressed, dispirited, discouraged, despondent, dismayed, crestfallen, distressed, chagrined; disenchanted, disillusioned; displeased, discontented, dissatisfied, frustrated, disgruntled X 10,0000000000000 🙁

  4. Brekkie, SBS One are saying Countdown will be in a 5:45-6:30pm timeslot. For me, I’m wondering whether that means the much better program, Global Village will now be cut in half, or even axed itself?

    As for Countdown; I tip SBS are using it as a soft axing for Letters & Numbers & will eventually get rid of that sometime soon too. Putting on Countdown is a way of placating the current audience for the time being so SBS can slowly back out of that kind of programming.

    Letters & Number would’ve been commissoned under former MD, Shaun Brown, who wanted the broadcaster to be more commercial in nature.

  5. I guess it’s worth mentioning that the Tour De France highlights are going to be in that 6pm timeslot for the next 2-3 weeks. Perhaps SBS could reconsider in that time?? Fingers crossed!

  6. That’s a real shame. Worth noting too Countdown airs here in a 45-50 minute slot (38 mins without ads), so a bit awkward for SBS to fill the hour – or cut down to 30 minutes. Sadly too you’ll likely get the 2012 series with the awful Nick Hewer who replaced the excellent Jeff Stelling back in January.

  7. Getting older I found this strangely addictive and challenging,sort of like a early onslaught Alzheimer thing.
    If this is getting axed due to budget concerns God help anyone else trying to get a gig at SBS

  8. If I want to watch UK TV shows at 6pm weekdays, I’ll watch the ABC. I liked Letters and Numbers, it was fun and a good lead-in to the news. I certainly won’t be watching the UK version. It’s back to the ABC and the 7pm news for me.

  9. This news certainly is a ratpack.

    The show has so much goodwill. It’s cheap, it’s popular (which is rare for SBS) and it’s received so much praise and positive press. You’d think they’d want to hang on to it. I’m going to miss seeing David, Richard and Lily every night.

  10. Sure, it will be sad to see the local version end. I don’t know whether or not the hosts of L&N did want to continue with the show, however, sometimes cast members feel the need to move on to other things, as was the case with the hosts of Spicks & Specks.

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