Page last updated at 14:18 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

Sky host Stelling joins Countdown

Jeff Stelling
Stelling will continue to appear on Sky Sports

Sky Sports host Jeff Stelling is to become the next presenter of Channel 4 quiz show Countdown.

Stelling, the host of Soccer Saturday, is known for his extensive knowledge of match day football statistics.

The news ends months of speculation over a replacement for Des O'Connor, who announced his departure in July.

Stelling will be joined by maths graduate Rachel Riley. She replaces Carol Vorderman, who recently recorded her final edition of the show.

"I am delighted to be hosting Countdown and follow in the footsteps of such great broadcasters as Richard Whiteley, Des Lynam and Des O'Connor, " said Stelling, who has been named Sports Broadcaster of the Year for the last three years.

Sky said Stelling's new role would not affect his commitments to Soccer Saturday or its live football coverage.

'Cool job'

Stelling and Riley will front the new series of the show when it returns to TV screens in January.

Riley, who recently left Oxford University, beat 1,000 applicants to land the co-host role.

"There's only one cool maths job around and I was lucky enough to get it so I'm absolutely thrilled," the 22-year-old said.

Countdown was the first programme to be broadcast when Channel 4 launched in November 1982.

The show was originally fronted by the late Richard Whiteley and Vorderman, who spent 26 years on the show.

Des Lynam took over as host following Whiteley's death in 2005. The popular host had been suffering with pneumonia.

O'Connor replaced Lynam in 2006.

"I feel certain that our much-loved words and numbers game will go from strength to strength," said Helen Warner, head of Channel 4 daytime, of the new line-up.

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