Countdown host Nick Hewer, 76, is replaced by Colin Murray as he shields from coronavirus

COUNTDOWN host Nick Hewer has been replaced by Colin Murray as he shields at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

The 76-year-old star admitted he was reluctant to step back from the Channel 4 quiz show but his concerned family had forced him to.

The presenter insisted he was "confident" with ITV's "military style" health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic, but his loved ones refused to let him take any chances.

Taking to his Twitter page, Nick announced Colin's temporary appointment, also revealing that he will still be on screens for a while due to episodes being filmed in advance.

The former Apprentice favourite told fans: "Good luck to Colin Murray, popular dictionary corner guest and Countdown fanatic, who takes over from me as host today and for the rest of Covid Lockdown recordings (although I’ll still be on your screens for a week or two) as this 76 year old shields at home in spite of the amazing military-style safety protocols put in place by ITV Studios and Channel4.

"Between you and me, I’d have confidently carried on, but the family has handcuffed me to a radiator, saying ‘you’re not going anywhere’.

"So have fun Colin and keep my chair warm for me."

Nick falls into the vulnerable category due to his age, with it advised that those over 70 should shield amid the pandemic.

Lord Sugar's former aide took over from Jeff Stelling as Countdown host in 2012, and is a firm favourite with viewers.

Coronavirus previously halted production of the show back in May, but filming resumed in July with Nick firmly in the hotseat.

Colin admitted to "nerves" as he thanked Nick for his "kind" tweet, replying: "That’s so very kind of you and much appreciated!

"You have calmed my nerves somewhat, so thank you! I shall make sure to keep your dressing room spotless! Love to the family."

Nick's co-host Rachel Riley tweeted: "Stay safe TV husband! And good luck temporary TV boyfriend @ColinMurray."

The 34-year-old star previously opened up about precautions in the studio when they resumed production this summer.

She said at the time: "When we go back we won't have any audience unfortunately. But like the rest of the country we are just going to play it by ear.

"When we are in the studio, we should be able to socially distance as there is the space. The space in the studio is okay, we can mic ourselves up.

"Nick is 76 so he has got to be a little bit careful."

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