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Letters & Numbers reruns still an SBS drawcard

It may have ended its run nine years ago on SBS, but this show could be worth a reboot.

It may have ended its run nine years ago on SBS, but game show Letters & Numbers still has a diehard following.

Screening at 5:30pm in reruns it drew 90,000 viewers yesterday. That was well up on US game show Jeopardy 54,000 which preceded it at 5pm.

And it was even ahead of the more profile Mastermind at 6pm in first run episodes, which drew 88,000.

The Shine series ran for 2 years at 450 episodes. But not too many local shows draw such a consistent crowd as this cheap and cheerful quiz does.

SBS could do a lot worse than consider a reboot with word-wiz David Astle and mathematician Lily Serna.

Just sayin’….

11 Responses

  1. Watch it religiously regardless of the contestants becoming familiar friends due to the cyclical repeats. It has been fantastic for the teenagers in enhancing their mental word and number skills. Would love a reboot, but it must retain its low-key format. Any new show that thinks they need lots of bling to be successful need to look hard at Letters and Numbers ( as well as Jeopardy etc).

    1. There is beauty in simplicity, though Letters and Numbers does look decidedly “cheap”. A bit of magic from production design (and maybe lighting) can go a long way to making it look just a touch prettier. Just look at Mastermind (though I switch off after Letters and Numbers).

      There is something endearingly quaint about Lily manually drawing the letters and numbers which I wouldn’t want changed in a potential reboot. She is a new mummy now, so availability could be an obstacle, but I would absolutely love to see all three return.

      The fact that it’s rating almost as well in its umpteenth repeats as it did in first runs 9 years ago in the face of a shrinking audience is very impressive indeed. Your move, SBS…

  2. I reckon you’re right, David. Some years ago, just after they cancelled Letters and Numbers, I had the pleasure of working with Lily Serner. She was badly cast in a food show, but that’s beside the point. What I did notice was as Lily and I travelled around Sydney, people of all shapes and spices ran over to her as if they were old friends. They loved her and wanted to tell her all about it. And these folks ranged from street kids to BMW driving suits and everything in-between. She was as big a star as I had ever worked with.

    The food show came and went and did nothing for Lily’s profile. ABC tried to launch her on Q&A, but that too was ill-conceived. Letters and Numbers was and is her show. Bring it back!!! And what a great lead in to the news.

    Just sayin’…

  3. It’s worth bearing in mind that Jeopardy is repeated at 7.00pm on Viceland, which may affect total numbers. I had no idea it on at 5.00pm on the main channel until just recently.

    I’ve started watching Jeopardy, and Letters and Numbers about a month or so ago, and it’s quickly become must-see viewing (and I can’t remember the last time I had watched television “live” so religiously).

    Jeopardy is even better with its first ad break skipped and up to 61 questions an episode. The passing of Alex Trebek is such an enormous loss as he looked like he still had many years left in him. I have only been watching the show for mere weeks, and I can see why audiences have loved him over the decades, as I do now. (RIP)

  4. Yes! I agree with a reboot of Letters & Numbers. I’ve seen most of the episodes about two or three times from the repeat showings. The letter and number games and tasks are engaging for the brain. There are also the UK versions Countdown and 8 Out of 10 Cats that I know of, the latter of which I have been watching sometimes for episodes that I haven’t seen. The 8 Out of 10 Cats format is slightly different from Letters & Numbers, and Countdown.

  5. Letters and Numbers was a great show. Even as repeats. A reboot would be nice and handy. David Astle and Lilly Serna were great in their respective roles. I actually enjoy the triple-run of quiz-shows on SBS from 5pm until 6.30pm.

    Also, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown seems to do well for SBS Viceland too.

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