Axed: Letters and Numbers

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 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


  1. No, no, no. I always make sure I leave work early enough to catch this.
    The ABC provides the facilities for this to be filmed maybe they could buy it and show it.

  2. steveany 2.0

    You mean I should use my powers for good instead of evil? Makes sense. But it would mean having to watch ACA, TT & Bolt and no amount of money can possibly compensate me for the associated pain and suffering.

  3. @steveany 2.0 – Any chance you could watch ACA or TT? Maybe The Bolt Report? Does your power work for newspapers too? If money’s an issue, I’m sure we could get a Kickstarter going or something 😉

    R.I.P. to a pleasantly interesting 1/2 hour; honestly, after the introduction of ads in 2006, it was about the only thing on SBS I took the time to watch. Richard, David, and Lily – good luck with your future endeavours!

  4. Local Content should come back.I kind of remember SBS Mondays being a local show or two comedies depending on if South Park was on at 8:30pm before the 9:30pm news and then again from10pm onwards.I have seen Shameless and it’s a worse version of Housos.

  5. steveany 2.0

    You’re quite right, it’d be the kiss of death for those excellent programmes.
    Sadly I’m only half-joking, I do seem to be in a cursed demographic ;-(

  6. Bruce Banner

    Perhaps Lily and David should have had some sort of cook-off or renovation challenge at the end of the show, then SBS would have kept it on air :/

    Glad Lily gets a new show, but poor form SBS, we should be embracing Australian content, not bringing in cheap imports to save a few thousand dollars.

  7. I can imagine this being the lowest cost-per-minute Aussie show on TV so I’m disappointed SBS hasn’t fought for it more. I’d still watch Countdown (coz I grew up with it) but I’m a fan of decent Aussie content so it won’t feel as right.

    • Sunday Night rests when DWTS is on. But they still produce stories and they can confirm a return. SBS did not and even acknowledge the funds are going elsewhere. It’s semantics. I will write a Renewed story if and when it resumes.

  8. Secret Squirrel

    @RoD – “duck-pufe” – something for them to put their feet on?

    I know SBS are a bit cash-strapped but I have to wonder whether the benefit of the $237 that they would save each week will be counteracted by the peed-off fans going elsewhere.

    @steveany 2.0 – in that case, pls don’t watch “Mad as Hell” or Media Watch.

  9. Letters and Numbers was a sweet and inoffensive little show – not must see viewing but worthy filler. Given the paucity of quality local product on SBS this seems like a poor decision.

    It would have been better to get rid of the endless dreary soccer coverage which relatively few people in this country care about. There is no place for sport of any kind on SBS.

  10. I love this game show, and the chemistry between all three ‘hosts’ was great too.

    It is a big shame that SBS decided to axe this show. A very silly decision, if you ask me!

  11. jezza the first original one

    I think it is a great idea to ditch this show and replace it with a cheaper uk import. The quality will still be great and SBS can use the money elsewhere. Good onya SBS, please can you boost the money for The World Game..

  12. I’m really disappointed to hear this, as has already been said, it was a particularly relaxing and nice show to watch. In fact it’s the only show I watch these days on SBS apart from news and sport.

  13. I was really surprised to see this go.I really enjoyed the show and Richard, David and Lily are all very talented.

    I’ll watch the UK version as I like the format of the show.

  14. It’s a dead certainty that if I like a show it will be canned. I liked L&N so it was canned. So it’s my fault – sorry Lily, sorry everyone. BTW I can also make my football team lose merely by watching them play. It’s a gift, I suppose.

    @RoD – lol! Good one! How about 2×4 letter versions:

  15. Let’s see, the program was cheap, intelligent, clean, family, very popular, no product placement or cross-promotions…so we better axe it. Ditto what RoD says.

  16. Why SBS, why did you have to axe this show? This was my favorite show and now it’s getting axed. Feel sorry for all the crew that worked on the show and this show was a come back for Richard Moorecroft. Maybe sell the show to Ten or Nine to put on the 7pm times lot.

  17. Wow, this is the kinda of show that I thought would be ‘uncancellable’ (unless Richard, David or Lilly died or something…) I agree with those reactions, pretty sad day. It’s a great show.

  18. “But the move may damage the SBS spirit with viewers, axing a local product for a cheaper import.”

    Got that right.

    I thought L&N was a low cost, humble, cheerful lead-in to early evening on SBS.

    Lily proves maths can be sexy.

    Is SBS that cash strapped?

    And who will watch UK Countdown? Not me.

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