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Case Studies

Hard Spell Champion 2004

BBC news item

Hard Spell final. BBC ONE, Sunday 5 December at 8.00pm

Thirteen year old Gayathri Kumar from Ormskirk, near Liverpool, has been named the first Hard Spell Champion. Gayathri notched up an incredible list of correctly spelt words as diverse and difficult as apocalypse, mezzanine, troglodyte, claustrophobia, geisha and resuscitate to become Britain's best young speller on Sunday night.

Gayathri was delighted: "I'm extremely happy that I won the first ever Hard Spell competition in the UK. "When I arrived at Television Centre I was so tense, I was just numb, and I didn't even think I'd be going through to the finals."

Eamonn Holmes presented Gayathri with the Hard Spell trophy.

"I've been truly amazed at the standard of spelling from these young kids and the sheer enthusiasm for a subject which will be invaluable to them in life. "Congratulations to Gayathri and well done to all the kids who took part."

The five finalists were whittled down from over 100,000 spellers who took part in school competitions back in September.

Hard Spell Champion Gayathri went head-to-head with Nisha from Wolverhampton who made it through to second place when she misspelt dachshund.

The first person to be knocked out was Sarah from Cornwall who misspelt acquittal and riviera in the first spelling challenge, where contestants had to spell ten words correctly.

Dominic from Bath was knocked out in the second challenge and Mark from Cambridge made it through in third place.

Gayathri won a holiday of a lifetime, £5,000 worth of media equipment for her school and the Hard Spell trophy.

Gayathri, who is passionate about reading and writing, said: "I really wanted to win Hard Spell because I know it would make my dad really proud and I'd like to go on holiday somewhere like Russia or Brazil. "And I've always been really jealous of people who get trophies, and now I've won the Hard Spell trophy."

Gayathri's top tip for spellers and future Hard Spell contestants is to "write down the words you get wrong and carry the list around with you, looking at it when you have spare time. "Headmistress, Miss J Brandreth of Merchant Taylor School for Girls, said: "We're hugely proud of her at school. Gayathri has displayed her characteristic ability to cope under pressure with a natural determination to succeed." Her dad Suresh's advice on the night was: "Take your time and think about the word, and most of all just enjoy the experience."

Hard Spell is developed with BBC Format Entertainment. The executive producer is Karen Smith.

Notes to Editors

The other finalists:

Second place - Nisha Abraham Thomas aged 12 from Wolverhampton.

Misspelt word - Dachshund

Third place - Mark Jackson aged 13 from Cambridge.

Misspelt word - Toxophilite

Fourth place - Dominic Harvey aged 11 from Bath.

Dominic was eliminated second.

Misspelt word - Meerkat

Fifth place - Sarah Williams aged 12 from Penzance.

Sarah was eliminated first.

Misspelt words - Acquittal and Riviera

Gayathri's winning words:

Accolade Reimburse Insatiable Elevenses Nyctophobia Martyr Odorous Triennial Subpoena Dromedary Fierce Papyrus Graffiti DeciduousApocalypse Grammatical Genealogical MetamorphosisIntelligent Troglodyte Claustrophobia Geisha Resuscitate Disequilibrium Chihuahua