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COUNTDOWN KING; Julian crowned greatest player.

Byline: IAN KEY

TEENAGE word genius Julian Fell was hailed Countdown's best-ever player after winning the TV final of the word and numbers game.

Amazed host Richard Whiteley asked his victory: "Do you read the dictionary in bed?!"

Julian, 18, notched up 10 straight wins and record scores in the Channel 4 show in which contestants assemble random letters into real words.

The sixth former got a never-equalled 146 points in one match, with a breathtaking average of 120. He put his skill down to practice on a Countdown computer game. Julian beat retired school secretary Grace Page, who lives just a mile from him in Woodthorpe, near York, to win 112-88. She said: "Julian has an incredible knowledge of words. I have been reading for 60 years but some of the words he came out with I had never heard of." He got off to a whirlwind start by turning his nine letters into Manticore, a mythical beast and later took just one second to solve the Countdown conundrum with the word pantomime.

After his victory, Whiteley told Julian he was the greatest champ in the show's 20-year history.

In the New Year Julian will appear in the Champion of Champions series.


MAN OF LETTERS: Julian with Grace and hosts Carol Vorderman and Richard Whiteley. Right, after victory
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 23, 2002
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