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Countdown's Susie Dent, 56, splits from her husband of almost 20 years

Countdown’s Susie Dent, 56, splits from her husband of almost 20 years as Dictionary Corner star ‘tries to make the best of heartbreaking situation’

  • Countdown star Susie Dent has split with her husband of almost 20 years 
  • Dictionary Corner star has been living apart from Paul Atkins for the past year
  • Couple remain on friendly terms and have told friends and family, source says 

Countdown’s Susie Dent has split with her husband of almost 20 years and is ‘trying to make the most of a heartbreaking scenario’, it emerged last night.

The 56-year-old Dictionary Corner star has been living apart from teacher Paul Atkins, with whom she has two daughters, for the past year.

One source told the Sun newspaper that the couple remain on friendly terms and have told family and friends. They said: ‘It’s obviously a very sad situation, but Susie has handled everything stoically.

‘She has ploughed on professionally with all aspects of her working life and is simply trying to make the most of a heartbreaking scenario.’

The source added: ‘Obviously Susie and Paul did all they could to make things work, but decided in the end to part ways.’

Oxford graduate Susie, born in Surrey, first joined the Channel 4 show in 1992 alongside late host Richard Whiteley. 

She also features on Jimmy Carr’s irreverent 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, has written several books on the English language, and launched a podcast alongside author and ex-MP Gyles Brandreth.  

Countdown is now hosted by Anne Robinson, the no-nonsense TV star best known for her former role on The Weakest Link.

Countdown star Susie Dent has split with her husband Paul Atkins

The 56-year-old Dictionary Corner star has been living apart from her husband 

Anne Robinson (middle) joined Rachel Riley (left) and Susie (right)

She posed with her all-female team at the show’s studios in Salford ahead of taking the reins from Nick Hewer as the sixth host of Channel 4’s longest running series. 

The 76-year-old warned that contestants won’t escape her trademark dry sense of humour, while wordsmith Susie added that Anne’s ‘flair and wit’ will make her a wonderful addition to the show. 

On her new team, Anne said: ‘Three Girls Do Countdown – who wouldn’t want to watch?’ 

Reflecting on filming with the journalist and broadcaster, Rachel said: ‘It’s been really fun watching Anne very quickly find her feet in the Countdown studio and seeing the contestants in the new groove with her. 

‘She’s not shy of asking them funny questions and the responses have ranged from going into their own comedy routines to not looking directly at her and hoping she doesn’t see them – it’s been very lively!’

Susie added: ‘I’m so pleased to be able to work with Anne again. 

Oxford graduate Susie first joined the Channel 4 show in 1992. Pictured with Rachel Riley

She also features on Jimmy Carr’s irreverent 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, has written several books on the English language, and launched a podcast alongside author and ex-MP Gyles Brandreth

The 76-year-old is best known for her former role on the BBC’s The Weakest Link

‘She has been a heroine of mine ever since she gently rescued me from an embarrassing moment on my first bit of live TV. 

‘With her flair and wit, she’s going to be a wonderful addition to the Countdown team.’ 

Confirmation of Anne’s appointment as presenter was made in February during an edition of Steph’s Packed Lunch, where her name formed a Countdown inspired conundrum.

Speaking live on the show, Robinson told host Steph McGovern she’s excited to be joining Rachel and Susie, saying: ‘I’m very excited, I want to rename it Three Clever Girls Do Countdown.” 

Asked if she’s a fan of conundrums, she added: ‘I love anagrams. I do The Times crossword every day. I’m not very good at adding up or subtracting.

The no-nonsense TV host took the reins from Nick Hewer as the sixth host of Channel 4’s longest running series. Nick is pictured with Rachel and Susie on the show

‘I’ll tell you what’s great about this show, it’s very clever contestants who have to work at speed. I think that’s what’s most impressive, they do it within 30 seconds.’

Steph also asked what her approach will be on Countdown, given her former reputation as the ‘queen of mean’ on The Weakest Link, with Anne admitting she is going to try and ‘tone down her nastiness’ on the show.  

Robinson also told Steph she’s slightly scared of Susie and Rachel’s brains, adding: ‘The three of us will transform things, it will be Countdown goes chic, won’t it?!’

The presenter became a familiar presence on TV screens after fronting BBC show’s What The Papers Say, Watchdog and Points Of View during the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s. 

But it was her straight-talking approach and popular catchphrase on The Weakest Link that helped turn her into a household name. 

The hugely successful show ran from 2000 to 2012 and was syndicated across the world.   

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