'Countdown' swears off rude word
Three consonants, three vowels, another three consonants. Thirty seconds.
What can you get? "Shade" for five? "Shifted" for seven? Not bad, but there is an eight-letter word, as the predominantly septuagenarian 'Countdown' studio audience discovered when contestant Jack Hurst boldly declared: "sh*tface".
"I knew it was in there," said Mr Hurst (18), a maths undergraduate at Cambridge who recently broke the programme's all-time aggregate record score.
Susie Dent, the show's somewhat coy lexicographer, was forced to confirm from Dictionary Corner, "Yes, sh*tface, an obnoxious or robust person", but the incident was deemed unfit for broadcast.
One might expect a student of Mr Hurst's abilities to have spotted the remaining D, which can be added to the end of the word to form a concept most undergraduates are familiar with. "I did see that," he said, "but I knew I couldn't put it on. Sh*tface is a noun, not a verb."
Arguably the greater scandal is what happened next: "They knew they couldn't broadcast it, so the producers swapped the C for an R, gave me 'hardiest' to declare instead, and re-filmed it."
Hurst scored a grand total of 946 points on his way to becoming an "octochamp", the name given to those who win eight shows in row, before they have to be honourably retired.
His is the highest total in the show's history.