'Countdown' criticised for broadcasting homophobic slur as answer in game show

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EMBARGOED UNTIL 15TH JUNE 2021..Rachel Riley, Anne Robinson and Susie Dent.
'Countdown' is presented by Rachel Riley, Anne Robinson and Susie Dent. (Channel 4)

Countdown has come under criticism for broadcasting a homophobic slur given as a possible answer to the letters round.

Contestants on the Channel 4 daytime gameshow are challenged to form the longest word possible from a selection of eight vowels and consonants, in this case 'A O O E D R P F T'.

Countdown hopeful Matt was asked to read out his seven letter answer, to which he sniggered: "I've got a rude word that I know is in the dictionary, 'P**fter'."

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Host Anne Robinson did not react and swiftly moved on to ask fellow contestant Roy for his seven letter word which was 'Proofed'.

The episode of the numbers and letters quiz was broadcast at 2.10pm in the afternoon on Monday 16 August, during the school holidays.

Former Sky News presenter Jeremy Thompson who joined Susie Dent as a guest on dictionary corner for the episode did not comment on the offensive answer but confirmed 'Proofed', and offered an alternative 'Footpad'.

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Richard Osman agreed the word should not have been broadcast on the daytime quiz show. (Getty Images)
Richard Osman agreed the word should not have been broadcast on the daytime quiz show. (Getty)

Both contestants scored 7 points for offering up a valid word.

Richard Osman, presenter on BBC gameshow Pointless commented on Twitter: "Yes, I think, the contestant was embarrassed to be saying it, but in that situation the easy solution is to all agree he scored 7 points and to retake with a different answer. We've done that a couple of times with 'correct' answers."

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Osman added it was "A very easy fix, and not an uncommon one."

He went on: "I don't think people are insulted, I think they would probably just rather not be reminded of a word that was thrown at them for years if there's a simple alternative. I suspect people are just very very tired of it."

He was responding to a tweet from viewer and TV critic Scott Bryan, who said: "Sorry to go serious on something quite trivial - but as someone who was called a "p***fter" by homophobes on a daily basis why on earth is Countdown allowing it to be said cheerfully as an answer on daytime television?"

Anne Robinson.
'Countdown' host Anne Robinson did not comment on the offensive word but swiftly moved on in the broadcast. (Channel 4)

Writer and comedian Adam Kay agreed: "I don't think it's trivial. If the best word someone could come up with is a word in the dictionary that would have the channel taken off the air, I'm sure they'd replay the round. Not sure this should be treated as any different."

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And BBC Radio 1 presenter Dean McCullough replied: "Immediately not this."

Words considered to be rude or offensive are accepted on the show if they are in the Standard English Dictionary but have previously been bleeped out if read allowed.

A spokesperson for the show told Yahoo UK: "The airing of the word was an error of judgement. It does not align with our values and we apologise for any offence caused."

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