Michael Hing confirmed to host Celebrity Letters & Numbers on SBS

Letters & Numbers is returning to SBS with a celebrity twist, as the network confirmed reports stretching back to July that Michael Hing will come on board to host the show.

Last airing between 2010 and 2012 with ex-ABC newsreader Richard Morcoft as host, SBS will take a new direction this time, led by Triple J drive host and The Feed presenter, Hing.

While Morcroft won’t return, SBS confirmed that wordsmith David Astle and numbers expert Lily Serna will be back for the new Celebrity Letters & Numbers.

L-R: David Astle, Michael Hing, Lily Serna

The new format will see three celebrities take on the Letters & Numbers challenge, while a special guest will appear alongside David in Dictionary Corner, all battling for a vintage 1980s encyclopedia collection, generously gifted by Michael Hing’s parents after they cleaned out their garage.

Hing said: “When SBS offered me the opportunity to work on a Letters & Numbers reboot, I was worried that appearing on television opposite Lily and David (famous smart people), I might come off looking very, very dumb.

“And look, that’s still not impossible, but luckily, SBS have also packed the show with celebrities and I remain hopeful I walk away okay. The real joy has been two-fold.

“Firstly, watching people who haven’t had to do maths since school panic and regress as soon as the Letters & Numbers clock starts, and secondly, the moments of triumph and success on the show are so rare that when they happen it’s the kind of genuine, pure joy that is quite rare in an otherwise, extremely grim world.”

SBS has revealed that two new season have been commissioned, to air in 2021 and 2022, and produced by ITV Studios Australia.

The first season will premier on Saturday, 2 October at 7:30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand. Celebrity guests confirmed to appear include Hamish Blake, Matt Okine, Merrick Watts, Jennifer Wong, Aaron Chen and Susie Youssef.

Astle said: “Imagine I gave you nine letters – like vunedaret. What can you see? What’s the longest word there? That’s the thrill of Celebrity Letters & Numbers. Every game will be like an inkblot test with the alphabet. Panic may well set in.

“Nerd or Tuna might be the best a player can do. Interesting. Or maybe a guest will nail tavern or verant, or swear black and blue that dunerat is a type of beach rodent. Curious. Do you need to lie down? Add celebrities to each session, a stopwatch, healthy egos, bragging rights, desperation, and the results will be revealing. Let’s play.”

Serna added: “Returning to the numbers game is like getting back to the gym, a mental workout of stretching and tweaking to reach the random target. I can’t wait. There’s a real thrill when I hit that magic button and we all get to see what total needs chasing down.

“It’s like reuniting with old friends, the bigs and the smalls, my board and marker, the 75-times table, and travelling to a new destination each time. Well, three or four destinations every episode! Bring it on. Numbers can be so exhilarating, so elegant, and I look forward to helping people see that. Just as fun, I get to lead our celebrities, and our viewers, to those little lightbulb moments along the way.”

SBS director of television and online content, Marshall Heald, said: “Letters & Numbers has been entertaining Australian audiences for over a decade, and we’re thrilled to bring it back to SBS in this new format. Celebrity Letters & Numbers brings together a large cast of comedic personalities for an evening of compulsive games that will have the whole family playing along.

“SBS aims to provide Australians with programming that entertains, educates and unites, and the revival of this cult quiz show is a testament to its dedicated fans.”


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