What's all this about, then?

SBS recently announced that they are "resting" Letters and Numbers (see full announcements below). The likely interpretation of that statement is that they intend to cancel the show unless there is a significant demonstration of public support for its reinstatement. This website aims to provide a place for that support to be demonstrated, and also to foster discussion about the show and how to help bring it back to our screens.

What can be done?

In order for this decision to be reviewed there must be a very clear signal that enough of the Australian public wants Letters and Numbers to resume production. It seems likely that there is enough widespread interest in the show for this to be possible – their facebook page has almost 11,000 followers, for instance – but it needs to be expressed in a visible way. Here are some useful ways to express that support:

Vote: Enough collected votes would be a definite sign. Anonymous votes carry fairly little weight, however; that is why after voting there is an option to provide your name (and age and location, if so desired). Details like that make the associated votes much more likely to be considered as meaningful.
Comment: Actual feedback is that much more meaningful again than a simple electronic signature. This website provides a simple comment system for short comments. The same rules of thumb apply: The greater the feedback provided, the more weight the associated vote carries when being evaluated.
Spread the word: By far the most important support will happen outside this site; the show's support base is large, but they need to be reached. Facebook, twitter, blogs, email (but only to acquaintances – no spam, please!)... whatever your communication media of choice are, please consider using them to send out a link to the voting page. The more people who find out, the more significant and compelling the response will be.

Posting on the appropriate section of their facebook page is also worth doing; whether it will remain available after the show is "rested" is not clear, however.

In addition to the above, there are other ways to make your opinion known to SBS. Their Feedback & Complaints webpage lists the following appropriate contact methods for this:

Commenter D from Melbourne made the following excellent suggestions:

The best chance of saving the show is to express yourself in the most public forums, which means the mainstream media. Write to daily newspapers, and in Melbourne write to The Age Green Guide. Ring talkback radio. Not only will this put the most pressure on SBS but it will also notify as many other people as possible what SBS is doing. If the announcement has been made only on the website then not many people will know yet and the campaign to save it might not be widespread enough.

The announcements

At approximately 5PM on Friday June 22, the following was posted to the SBS Letters and Numbers facebook page:

Sadly for the time being SBS won't be making any more episodes of Letters and Numbers. We will be replacing the show with Countdown - the very popular UK version of the show - at the end of the current series.
At about the same time the following Audience Announcement was placed on the Letters and Numbers homepage:

SBS has made a decision to rest Letters and Numbers and develop other programs so we can continue to offer new, great content to our audiences. The last episode will be transmitted on June 27.

Following Tour de France, Countdown - the UK version of Letters and Numbers - will air at 5:45pm weekdays.

Lilly Serna, one of the shows stars is working on a new show with SBS, Destination Flavour. SBS hopes the appetite for Letters and Numbers will be satisfied with the very popular UK series Countdown.

(The misspelling of Lily's name is theirs; I am just reproducing it as presented.)


These announcements have been met with general dismay by the show's regular watchers. By midnight a day later, over 450 comments against the decision had been left on the facebook page. Some commenters have also contacted SBS through email to express their displeasure. All of this is a good start, but it needs to be continued; ongoing negative reaction speaks volumes.

Who is responsible for this website?

Hi! My name is Geoff Bailey, and as you might gather I am a keen follower of the show.

Disclosure: I am neither affiliated with SBS in general nor with Letters and Numbers in particular. I have, however, been a contestant on the show (episodes 325 to 328), for which I received the usual copy of the Macquarie 5th edition that every contestant does. I also recap the episodes on my blog; both that blog and this website are entirely my own undertakings, performed without desire for or expectation of personal remuneration of any kind.

Obviously I personally enjoy watching the show and playing along with it, and I know I am not alone in that. But beyond that – and this is not hyperbole – I think that Letters and Numbers is a show that has a lot to offer for the betterment of Australia. One of the particularly heartening things I have heard repeated by many different people is how the show has caught the attention of children of all ages, sparking an interest in words and arithmetic that can only serve them in good stead in the future.

This has mostly been said of school children – and I think that playing along with it can be a great class activity – but I have also heard reports of children as young as 7 months old being engaged by the program. One contestant on the show in recent times mentioned how her daughter had learned the alphabet from the show by the age of two.

What makes the show so effective in this regard is that it can be enjoyed by all ages. It provides education and engagement for children, challenge for adults, mental exercise for older watchers, and entertainment for all.