A COUNTDOWN champion and writer from Oxfordshire will take to the stage in a play about a socially awkward astrophysicist.

Oxford graduate and Fyfield resident Nick Smith recently enjoyed a winning streak on Channel 4’s famous game of numbers and words.

Now Mr Smith will perform in the the lead role of the Bartholomew Players’ production of Humble Boy at Eynsham Village Hall.

Mr Smith, 59, who has written the bridge column for The Oxford Times for 20 years, said: “There are many analogies between this play and my TV appearance.

"Countdowns play a big part in the play, in the form of Felix's recollections of the 1969 Moon landing and Rosie's amorous approaches.

“In one of my early speeches I say ‘There must be a word. The word has to exist’ – which reflects the feeling you have on Countdown each time you are confronted by a set of letters.”

Humble Boy is a tale of dysfunctional families, reversed social hierarchy and humility set in the idyllic Cotswold countryside.

The play, which is inspired by Hamlet, sees Felix Humble return home after learning of the death of his father, to find his mother about to marry the completely unsuitable George Pye.

The ensuing revelations about a daughter Felix knew nothing about and his own mental difficulties in maintaining his familial and professional responsibilities elicit both laughter and tears from audiences.

Director of the play Debi Lisburne Diacon said: “I have wanted to direct this play ever since I first saw it in the West End in 2002.

“We have been lucky to assemble a talented, experienced cast, two of whom are new to Bartholomew Players, one of whom is a former professional actor acting in ‘Father Ted’ – and of course our TV Countdown star Nick Smith.

“I just love the way the characters are so well drawn – and hopefully well-acted. I’d like to bet the audience goes home saying they know someone just like them.”

Humble Boy will open tonight and run until Saturday, starting at 7.30pm each day.

To book tickets in advance call 07721 744020 or go to ticketsource.co.uk/bartholomewplayers

Mr Smith took part in Countdown during its ‘glory days’ when it was presented by Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman.

He was on the show again for four episodes before being beaten at the end of last month.