Channel 4 is to approach Mensa and top universities to find a replacement for Carol Vorderman on Countdown.

The broadcaster has decided to choose an unknown ‘maths whizz’ to help front the daytime quiz show rather than a celebrity.

Prospective candidates will be asked to give details about their educational qualifications and previous experience, and also explain in 50 words or fewer why they are the best person to front the programme.

Countdown hosts Carol Vorderman & Des O’Connor celebrating the show’s 25th anniversary November 2007

Successful applicants will then have to sit a maths exam and will also be screen-tested.

They will even have to state whether they are left or right handed so that the new set can be designed around their needs.

The Channel 4 advertisement said the broadcaster was looking for applicants with ‘charm and charisma to appeal to viewers’ and ‘excellent numeric and literacy skills’.

The new recruit will appear on TV screens in January next year.

However, whoever succeeds Miss Vorderman is unlikely to receive anything like the �800,000 salary she currently commands.

Last week, the 47-year- old announced she was quitting the show that made her a household name after being told to leave or have her pay slashed by 90 per cent.

Miss Vorderman, who said she was given only 48 hours to decide on the cut, will leave Countdown at the same time as fellow presenter Des O’Connor at the end of the year.

Helen Warner, Channel 4’s head of daytime, said: ‘We realise Carol’s shoes are extremely difficult ones to fill, as she has done an amazing job over the past 26 years.

‘However, just as we found Carol through an ad in a local paper, we really hope we can do the same again and find another outstanding mathematical mastermind.

‘We know many Countdown viewers have great heads for numbers, so we are looking forward to seeing how talented they really are.’

Daily Mail Online
By Paul Revoir
Last updated at 9:56 AM on 21st August 2008