University challenge too great for masterminds

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The Independent Online
The University Challenge champions scored a victory for youth last night when they defeated a team of Mastermind finalists, proving that the decline in educational standards is greatly exaggerated.

In a closely fought contest Magdalen College, Oxford, reigning champions of University Challenge, beat the Masterminders by 260 points to 205.

The four students have a combined age of around 90, compared with over 170 for their four Mastermind opponents.

Their triumph over experience follows claims that today's students are not as bright as their predecessors. This suggestion was highlighted by the recent record- breaking defeat of New Hall College, Cambridge whose team achieved an all-time low score on University Challenge of 35 points.

It prompted suggestions that students in the Sixties and Seventies who battled for honours in the original series hosted by Bamber Gascoigne had broader and deeper general knowledge.

But in last night's showdown, Magdalen's students, all from state secondary schools, stormed ahead to prove they were just as brainy as 1960s students.

Jim Adams, a maths and philosophy student, Colin Andress, reading philosophy and ancient history, Gwyllim Thear, reading English, and Alison Reeves, a history student, trumped their opponents on questions from choreography to cathedrals.

The show's producer, Peter Gwyn, said: "By putting [Magdalen] against a formidable team of Mastermind finalists, I think we've demonstrated that the student population is as bright and as well-informed as ever."

The Mastermind team included the winner of the last ever series, Anne Ashurst, and finalists Clare Ockwell, Andrea Weston and Colin Cadby, the team's captain. The programme ended in September after 25 years.

starters for ten

1: What is the name for the white mesocarp which lines the exocarp or rind of many citrus fruits?

2: Born in 1893, which American dancer and choreographer created the first modern dance technique to provide a significant alternative to classical ballet, which was intended to "reveal the inner man?"

Q: Which cathedral is unique among medieval English cathedrals in being planned as a single unit in the early English gothic style?

1: Pith; 2: Martha Graham; 3: Salisbury