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Countdown bosses cut 's***face' from broadcast

Could you make an eight-letter word out of F I D E T C A S H?

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".

Competitors on the long-running Channel 4 show, in which people make the longest word from a selection of letters, were given DTCEIASHF.

But they were given a new set of letters and asked to try again when Cambridge University student Jack Hurst produced the word "s**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."

Channel 4 said: "Countdown is a daytime programme and this particular word was not deemed appropriate for a daytime audience so not included in the show."

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.

Countdown was the first show broadcast on Channel 4 when it launched in November 1982, and has since become a national institution.

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