Oldie challenge to university smart alecs
Sunday 21 December 1997
Since the first show in 1962, viewers at home have been infuriated into exclaiming at the arrogance, the ignorance and the elitism evident on screen. And some of the contestants have been pretty irritating, too.
However, on Tuesday, a team from Magdalen College, Oxford, triumphant in the last series, will be pitted against the combined might of the finalists of this year's farewell Mastermind competition.
The result of the pre-recorded match is a closely guarded secret. Producer Peter Gwyn will only say that the show provides some surprises.
So does an analysis of recent results from University Challenge contests. In the three complete series of the new BBC version of University Challenge, under the chairmanship of Jeremy Paxman, the newer universities have begun to eat away at the lead established by Oxbridge colleges.
In the days of Bamber Gascoigne, the programme's first host, Oxbridge undergraduates chalked up 15 wins during 25 series. Under Paxman, however, red-brick Nottingham and Sixties-built Warwick have come through strongly, with the Scottish universities putting in consistently good performances.
Perhaps Nottingham's finest moment came in the current series when they trounced a team from New Hall College, Cambridge, with a final score of 300. The Oxbridge representatives managed a score of only 35 points, the lowest total in the quiz's 27 year history.
Of the 24 teams who qualified to take part in this series nine were Oxbridge, but four University of London colleges also qualified. So far, this series, Cambridge colleges have won 50 more points than Oxford colleges.
"We always say, and I firmly believe," said Mr Gwyn, "that just to qualify to take part in the hardest quiz on television is a tremendous achievement in itself."
Even back in the days when it was customary for Gascoigne to prepare to take the chairman's seat by eating a quick Eccles cake, University Challenge provoked strong feelings.
Before Granada Television rashly decided to pull the show in 1987, arguments tended to centre on the academic snobbery the programme was thought to enshrine. This political objection was memorably given voice by the home team from Manchester University who were banned in 1976 after a contest in which they answered every question with the names of either Trotsky or Marx.
- 1 Cecil the lion: Dentist Walter Palmer blames local guides in Zimbabwe for the scandal
- 2 Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
- 3 Norwich paedophile ring: Woman at centre of gang who made children 'sexual play things' guilty of 23 offences
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
Norwich paedophile ring: Woman at centre of gang who made children 'sexual play things' guilty of 23 offences
Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting startup disruptin...
£25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This London based publishing co...
£13500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Previous experience is benefici...