HARTLEPOOL’S Jeff Stelling is to leave a hit television show after almost three years.
Born and bred town man Jeff is stepping down as presenter of popular Channel 4 show Countdown.
Jeff – the fourth presenter to front the station’s longest-running show – will leave at the end of the year.
He says he wants to concentrate on his presenting role at Sky Sports, where he is to front Champions League coverage next season.
He will also continue with Sky’s Soccer Saturday, which has won him a committed following.
Jeff said: “Next season because I’m doing Champions League for Sky, then I’ve actually resigned from Countdown so I’ll be finishing with that at the end of December.
“You know, you’ve really got to have your priorities and my priority is football, I love it, and Soccer Saturday, so I’ve committed myself very much to that next season.”
Jeff joined the series in early 2009, replacing Des O’Connor.
The longest serving host was Richard Whiteley who launched the show at the birth of the channel in November 1982 and continued until his sudden death in 2005.
He was replaced by Des Lynam who lasted less than two years, unhappy with the journey to Leeds for filming the daily afternoon word and maths contest.
A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said: “Jeff will continue to present Countdown until the end of the year. He’s had a brilliant three years on the show and we’re sad to see him go. We’re already talking to a number of people to find a replacement.”
Maths whiz Rachel Riley is said to be one of those in the running.