Monday, 25 June 2012

Time for some activism

No doubt most readers of this blog will have noticed SBS's announcement that they are "resting" the show.  That's grim news, but I feel there is a chance of doing something about this if we can get enough public outcry about the decision, or at least support for reinstatement of the show.

The show's facebook page might be a natural place for those comments, but it is entirely possible that they would shut that down at the time of resting.  Consequently, I have spent the weekend setting up a separate website to act as a place to solicit votes and feedback for the show's reinstatement.  The address is below; please stop by and add your contributions to it so that it does not look so bare. *chuckles*

And then encourage family, friends, and other acquaintances to do the same.  This sort of thing can snowball once a critical mass of sorts is reached, but the word needs to be spread quickly and far.  The show has a facebook following of almost eleven thousand people; if there is a way to reach them and get a sizeable number to respond then that would be a significant step.

The website is:

I sincerely believe there is a chance of success, but I'm going to need a lot of help.  Please join me in making it happen.


Sam Gaffney said...

That's the spirit!

Emily said...

Thanks for organising this, Geoff! I honestly don't know what I'll do without my nightly L&N fix.

And we'll all miss watching it, but I'm sure that all who have been on the show (or attended a taping) will agree that the cast and crew are amazing at what they do. They genuinely seem to love their jobs. More than anything, I'd like them to continue to have the chance to make this wonderful show.

Sam Gaffney said...

Hello Emily, were your episodes in late August 2011? If memory serves me correct, you got a full monty on your first ever round, the next round was INTERLOCK, and you restricted the poor carry-over champ to just five points! You were great, I vaguely remember that you looked to have burned out in the episode you lost; bad luck missing out on the finals. (Your episodes aired just before my L&N audition, so it is easy for me to place the date.)

Emily said...

Wow, the great Sam Gaffney remembers little old me! You're 100% spot on. I crashed and burned in my third episode (it was the longest day out I'd had in a long time - not an excuse, just fact!) but continue to live off of the glory of my first episode.

I planned to come and watch the filming of the Masters Series, but couldn't find a sitter in time. It looked like so much fun! If I'd known it would be the last thing taped, I just would have brought my daughter along!

Sam Gaffney said...

Ha ha ha. The Masters was lots of fun, and the contestants didn't have the slightest hint that they would be the last L&N episodes aired (if indeed the decision had been made yet). I'm not sure whether they were the last episodes filmed - if so, it would have been a very full schedule in the fortnight prior, doing all 43 episodes of Series #5.

Bob said...

Well done Geoff. I was hoping you might organise a rebellion! I've also commented on the SBS website (ep447: This is an outrage!) and I emailed SBS earlier today - the reply from Audience Relations admitted they were in the dark too about the real reason for this decision.

Anonymous said...

We should have guessed something was amiss when they started to promote Lily's new cooking show. Will head over to Geoff's Gripe Gathering now! Bravo to all the believers


Unknown said...

The outpouring of support overnight has been amazing, if anyone can help with Google results, social media sharing, or simple word-of-mouth, please do whatever you can!

Sam Gaffney, you are one of my favourite players, I was really hoping the final would be between you and Jacob: Battle of the Gingers! Ah well. (If anyone knows the result of the final, please don't say anything - spoilers!)

Sam Gaffney said...

Thanks Unknown, but I must set something straight - I am actually blond, not a redhead. Neither my pain theshold nor anaesthetic requirements are higher than normal.

A few viewers seem to have described me as a ginger, which puzzles me, as I had never been accused of having red hair in my life (not that there's anything wring with that). I think it is the studio lights which creates this effect, and I remember Jacob as having blond hair as well (though I could be wrong).

Nits said...

Hi Geoff. Thank you for doing this. I love Letters and Numbers and hope they realise how much we love this show and bring it back. Or at least show reruns of LandN instead of Countdown. I started watching around July last year and it will be nice to watch all the old episodes.

Emily said...

Geoff: I'm adding a well done to my thank you. I just revisited the page to make sure hubby had signed (lame? Maybe...). I can't believe how quickly the e-signatures and comments are pouring in.

Sam: Ah yes, season five. How quickly I forgot, having just watched the finals series recaps leading up to the Masters.

So you're in the final! I'll definitely be watching tomorrow night. I'd say chookas if it wasn't completely redundant.

Sam Gaffney said...

Had to Google 'chookas'. It's never redundant!

Mark said...

Sam, congratulations on the win against Naween. What a great performance.

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks to all for your support, and please spread the word about -- what I've discovered is that most people do not even know that the show is being cancelled. The first step of all is just getting that knowledge disseminated, then trying to point people in the right direction, whether that is direct complaint to SBS, letters to newspaper editors, or the petition itself.

I am very gratified by the level of response; I managed to get some airtime on Adam Spencer's breakfast radio show on ABC702 which really kicked things off. Big thanks to Adam for that, and the behind the scenes people who made that happen. That led to another radio piece later in the day on Canberra's 666drive, and it finally broke into twitter in a significant way thanks to Leigh Sales. Huge thanks to all of the above, and to everyone else who has been spreading the word.

Anthony Sharwood wrote a piece about the axing over at The Punch, and linked to the petition. I'm sure there are others as well that I've yet to find. Again, thanks to all.

Oh, and David Knox made some of the points I did not manage to on Radio National -- podcast here.

Sam Gaffney said...

Thanks Mark.

That's some impressive activism, Geoff, I caught the Sharwood article earlier today. I'll be surprised if this doesn't culminate with you self-immolating, but let's hope someone brings the Australian show back before it comes to that.

Sam Gaffney said...

Oops, Ctrl+F5 resends one's comment on the blog petition. Now I look like one of those computer-illiterate clowns who posts their comment twice.

(Except it was thrice.)

Geoff Bailey said...

Ah, thank you, Sam. I was wondering how on earth people kept resubmitting the same comment, and that explains it. I may see if I can do something about it.

Emily said...

Impressive stuff, Geoff!

Congrats, Sam! Great game last night (last year?). And I'm surprised that you googled chookas instead of consulting the Macquarie!

Geoff Bailey said...

And very belatedly, great to hear from you, Emily. I don't recall the episodes quite as well as Sam, but he jogged my memory successfully. I was likewise impressed by such a great start, and surprised by the fall.

Unknown said...


Thanks for your wonderful site, although it makes me feel inadequate when I see how many words you find each letter mix. Please don't take down your site now that SBS has cancelled the show, as I will be revisiting your summaries of the shows.

Like others I have made my comments on your petition site and also on the SBS site. I have written to SBS about it (no response yet) and to the ABC suggesting a migration there, a bit like Margaret and David did so successfully. I have also put up Sam's amazing maths calculation (most would know which one it is without specifying it) on my youtube channel, including encouragement to link to the petition site.

Keep up the good work. Have you considered sending out a press release with the results of the petition.

Sam - you inferred that there was a method to your calculation. Is there any way you could explain how you did it?

Regards from Mike Backhouse (not sure why using my google account lists me as unknown).

Geoff Bailey said...

G'day Mike! Great to hear from you, and I have every intention of leaving this blog up. I'm still in two minds as to whether or not to blog the Countdown episodes (there's already an existing community that does that), but in any case there's more to be said here.

Thanks for your efforts in supporting the show; it does help make a difference.

(As far as the words I list: There's the words I see as the letters are put on the board, there's the thirty seconds of game time, then there's anywhere up to ten minutes of further thought from me, and finally I check a Scrabble dictionary. I hope that it is generally clear which category each word falls into.

Also, it's all about practice. The more you play, the better you get at finding those longer words.)

Sam Gaffney said...

This article on SBS TV ratings on the day of and after the last L&N episode is eight days old, but encouraging nonetheless.

Mike, to answer your question about my 821 solve, a commenter provided his two cents on the SBS video of the episode. There might also be some comments on the web related to the James Martin 952 Countdown solve (btw, I had never heard of this solve until Richard Morecroft mentioned it after the 821 solve).

The gist is:
100/25 x 50 + 75/25 = 203 is the same as:
(100x50 + 75) / 25 = 203 (which uses only one 25)

Depending on where your two small numbers are placed, you can get a range of targets. Working with the numbers is relatively intuitive, compared to other solutions that involve dividing at the end, and it always results in an integer (unless the small numbers are inserted in the wrong place).

I didn't actually calculate a subtotal of 20600 in my head, I spotted 821 as 4x200 + 4x6 - 3. (Note that with the 4x6 component, it is just a coincidence that 4 is one of the small numbers.)

To see the flexibility of this maneuver in action, try solving these:

197 {100,75,50,25}
298 {100,75,50,25}
154 {100,75,50,25}
157 {100,75,50,25}
803 {100,75,50,25,4}
812 {100,75,50,25,4}
815 {100,75,50,25,6,4}
818 {100,75,50,25,6,4}
707 {100,75,50,25,6,4} (hardest)

EG said...

Have you noticed that the 3.00pm weekday screenings of L&N are continuing--for the next 3 weeks at least--according to the on-line TV Guide? Perhaps they're showing early eps.

I've noticed a flurry of comments yesterday/today on the SBS & lanfans pages from Victoria--some sparked by the discussion yesterday morning on the ABC radio TV segment & DA interview. Pretty poor form tho' that the Green Guide editor only found out about the "resting" from the GG letters page! (Unfortunately, no podcast.)

Btw, yesterday's Age had an ad on the puzzles page for a L&N The Masters DVD. First time I've seen DVD merch. I wonder, do the contestants get a cut??!!

Geoff Bailey said...

Sam: I'm pretty sure that 157 is not manageable from the four large numbers alone; accidental almost-duplication of the 154?

A nice set of exercises in any case -- thank you!

EG: I had not noticed that; very interesting! I'd have said that it was most likely an oversight in their upcoming TV guide, but maybe they will repeat old episodes. I wonder which ones, in that case? Thanks for the heads up.

I stumbled upon the DVD a couple of days before, and was somewhat surprised. Looks like a good keepsake for Sam to acquire, at the least!

I looked into trying to get audio of the 774 piece, but it would only be available by buying a CD of the entire program (and maybe not even then). My interest was not quite up to the price tag involved (a bit over $90, as it turns out; I've got no quarrel with the price, but nor was I prepared to pay that much for it).

Unknown said...

Thanks Geoff for your explanation about detecting the words. Makes me feel a bit better. Sometimes I do well, but other times I can hardly see anything. Often being aware of the 30 sec time I panic and just lose it. I think I would need to practice more to be consistent enough for the show. But as you say, practice is the key. (Do you know the ratio of how many people get on the show from those who apply? Most contestants seem to be very competent)

Speaking of practice, I was happy to see EG's comment about repeats next week. I checked the SBS guide and they are there, but with no indication as to episode number. Hopefully it will be from the beginning.

And thank you Sam for your explanation. Your solution and method makes more sense to me now, particularly that you were not doing those large calculations but seeing the large numbers as smaller ones. Also, by picking 4 large and 2 small you would always know 4 of the 6 numbers, and could practice variations, and at the same time probably be ahead of the other competitor. Now I know why you always picked that combination!

I have been heartened by the response to the cancellation. I was recently in a courtesy bus when I was getting my car serviced and I asked the other two people if they watched Letters and Numbers. They both said they watched it everynight and I told them the bad news about the 'resting' (they had not heard this) and that hey might contact SBS. If the show was given more time to develop its audience, then I think it could run for 30 years like some of the overseas versions.

Keep the faith!

Mike Backhhouse said...

Oops - I did not sign the above post. But I have learned how to put my name rather than anonymous!

Sam Gaffney said...

Oops, Geoff is right, it was supposed to be:

157 {100,75,50,25,1}

In fact, you can reach every target from 143-157 from these five numbers.

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Mike. And heh, I can well relate to that whole "time is running out, argh, panic" bit, where you end up spending the time thinking about how time is running out instead of searching for words. Again, it's something that practice greatly eases. I still fall victim to it on occasion, though.

I've no idea about the ratio of prospective contestants to actual ones; it is a minor concern for me, as the show needs a certain level of popularity in order to attract enough of a contestant base. If it can hang in for, oh, five more years then it will see the school children coming through who have been growing up with it, and thereafter (or so I feel) there should always be enough contestants.

But maybe there already are; only the show's staff know that.

Geoff Bailey said...

Following on from EG's remark about L&N repeats still on the schedule for 3PM in the afternoons: After the Tour de France coverage ends (last appearance Monday July 23rd), SBS has scheduled a four part series for the rest of the week in the 6PM timeslot. "Barbados at the Races", about horse-racing in the Caribbean. I certainly can't imagine that attracted much favourable response from anyone expecting either L&N or Countdown. More filler?

Mike Backhhouse said...

Today's episode at 3pm is the first episode of Letters and Numbers so I am hoping that they will repeat the lot as I have not seen the first two series.

However, this should not weaken our resolve to lobby SBS to continue the show. SBS has done such a good job in producing the show, surely it cannot throw that away.

SBS think again!