A GALASHIELS Academy maths teacher has appeared on Channel 4’s popular daytime show Countdown.

Stu Harkness won nine straight games on the programme before being eliminated in the semi-final last year.

But his performance meant that he was invited to the Champion of Champions which was filmed in November and screened last week.

The show was hosted by Colin Murray, assisted by Rachel Riley, with resident lexicographer Susie Dent and special guest Richard Osman.

His opponent in the round of 16 was Manchester maths PHD James Haughton who had never scored fewer than 100 points in all of his previous games.

Stu said: “It was a brilliant experience. I originally appeared on the programme 15 years ago but lost but during lockdown I decided to swot up so that something positive could come out of the pandemic.

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“Last year I made my second debut on the programme and scored 148. You are only permitted to play eight times on the show and I won all eight games, with some impressive scored.

“The top eight were then entered into a straight knock out competition and I was eliminated in the semi-final.

“But I felt so honoured to get an email in September inviting me to take part in the Champion of Champions competition.”

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After an evenly-contested opening the turning point came in the fifth letters game when Stu’s opponent made the eight letter word 'galloper' from the letters POLALROEG. Stu elected to go with the seven-letter word 'pergola' and is still kicking himself.

He added: “Considering that I’m from Selkirk and last year I was the Weaver Standard Bearer at the Common Riding, I can’t believe I missed ‘galloper’. That was a real howler.”

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But Stu fought back and earned a round of applause from the audience and the presenters with a nine letter word ‘vocalises’ which earned him double points and culminated in the match going to the wire with the Countdown Conundrum.

The letters HYPESKILL appeared and within three seconds Stu’s opponent buzzed with 'sylphlike' to secure the victory and a place in the next round.

Souter Stu, who now stays in Tweedbank, isn’t too downhearted, though, as he has just been selected to represent Scotland at the World Scrabble Championships in Las Vegas in July.

The show can still be watched on All 4 Catch Up.