Talk:University Challenge

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Why is there nothing of the famous 'Toxteth O'Grady - USA' incident?


2006: Didn't the Author's win the special? I'm pretty sure I read Iain Banks captained them to victory.

I've been meaning to get around to this article for a while. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that College Bowl was the original and University Challenge was based on it. Mintguy

Hm... just found quizbowl which I was unaware of until there was an article at University Challenge with a link from quizbowl. Mintguy

The quizbowl thing intrigued me too. Can anyone let us know what, if any, differences in format, rules, etc, are between the two shows? Deb 13:57 Feb 8, 2003 (UTC)

Its pretty similar, see quizbowl and College Bowl. There is a quizbowl circuit in the UK of sorts:

Sorry, I had missed the description under quizbowl - I had only looked at College Bowl. It sounds like the quizbowl format was identical to the original "University Challenge" format, which has changed slightly over the years, eg. all bonuses are now worth 15 points, whereas before they used to vary in value.Deb 17:32 Feb 8, 2003 (UTC)

Back in my days at Kent, one of the bars there had a number of photo blowups trumpeting our victory at University Challenge at some point in the 1960s or 1970s. Now where they telling porkies or is this a case of a "forgotten" winning team - by all accounts the Reunited series exposed a lot of confusion about who exactly won in which year. Timrollpickering 10:39, 13 May 2004 (UTC)

"The fact that Oxbridge colleges can enter singly was the ostensible reason behind a bizarre 1975 protest."

"Bizarre" isn't NPOV, folks. Change it or I will. -- 22:17, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

"Teams consist of four members and represent a single university or an Oxford, Cambridge, Wales or London college."

Can't Durham also can enter colleges? Would a better phrasing be "Teams consist of four members and represent a single university or an University college."?

No because, if you read in the article, only colleges from Oxford, Cambridge, Wales or London universities may enter (the reason behind the 1975 protest), else it is only the university. Basically, only a university as a whole can enter the competition, with the exception of the universities I mentioned - in which the colleges of those universities can enter (My way of comprehending it isn't very good). --Mark PEA 21:56, 28 August 2006 (UTC)
I think in the case of Wales and London it is different. King's College, UCL and Imperial are completely independent of one another aside from their tie under the university of London badge. As are Swansea, Cardiff independent but within University of Wales. However in the case of Oxbridge universities they all lie within the sanctuary (for lack of a better word) of Oxford university and Cambridge university. The colleges are not independent of one another. -Iscariot 21:51, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
Durham hold inter-collegiate competitions to see who makes it into the Durham University Quiz team. Not very fair as Durham have had a collegiate system for as long as some of the universities listed, but that's life I suppose Mouse Nightshirt 15:02, 26 December 2006 (UTC)


The University of Sussex was also banned for about 25 years, for doing what in the article the University of Manchester team apparently did, except Sussex did it a few years earlier. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 11:05, 1 February 2007 (UTC).

I thought that the 1975 "Manchester protest" was against the sorts of questions that were asked. They were considered to be "Oxbridge Questions". But I'm not sure what that meant. Millbanks (talk) 08:49, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

This is OR, and I can't find a source, so I'm not putting it in the article, but I was in both the Manchester University student union meeting that discussed this before the recording, and in the audience. Aaronovitch has, I think, been quoted as saying the reason was as per the article, but there were also some who saw it as a chance to protest against apartheid (I seem to remember a banner being unfurled at the end), and there was an anarchist and 'ahfuggedit' tendency who just did it to get up the establishment's noses. My recollection (possibly flawed) is that the team was elected rather than having any academic credentials. We certainly got lots more people into the studio than we should by the simple expedient of photocopying the tickets...Matruman (talk) 23:42, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

One of the controversial elements noted is that Oxbridge teams are allowed to enter teams from the individual colleges. Surely then they should be listed separately under the "Series wins" table and not amalgamated. ~Myles — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:19, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Format change[edit]

The article refers to "changes to the long-standing format of the programme", but does not describe what the changes were. I can only remember them vaguely - they were indeed introduced near the end of the Gascoigne era, but the only detail I recall was each team had a large baton, which had sections that lit up and was slid upright along the desk from contestant to contestant. I'm surprised that no-one else ever seems to remember this. None of the websites devoted to the show linked here mention it. --Richardrj talk email 00:03, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

I've added a bit about the revised format. There was indeed a large baton, that was used in the second legs of first-round games, but I can't recall the details. Anyone? Widmerpool 09:06, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

I think mention should be made, too, of the opportunity taken for the significant widening in the breadth of coverage of the subject matter forming the basis for the questions with introduction of the revived (Paxman) series. For example, the scope was broadened to include questions on mathematics and science, subject areas that had previously (and notoriously, in my view) been studiously ignored by the question setters who clearly favoured catering almost exclusively for the classicist, or 'arts' man. [The Resentful Plumber, 11:40AM GMT 7 November 2011] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:40, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Highest scores[edit]

There are lowest scores. What about Higest Scores?Lizzie Harrison 19:41, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Example question[edit]

The example list question "there are six fundamental SI units. Give four for 5 points, 5 for 10 points or all 6 for 15 points" is wrong as there are actually seven base units. Should it be replaced with an accurate one?

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 05:53, 10 November 2007 (UTC)


Since the 2008 final hasn't happened yet, I have deleted its line from the table. Sheffield still has a good shot at the title. - A Sheffield Student

I was wondering about that! (Edmund1989 (talk) 19:53, 3 March 2008 (UTC))


C'mon people! Let's have a bit of credit for those teddy bears! The winning team for the last two years, at least, has been able to call on ursine assistance. Kevin McE (talk) 20:45, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

"Ordinary" student age[edit]

Though the sentiment may well be true, and the source is fine, I don't really think that referring to students between 18-21 as of "ordinary age" is particularly appropriate these days. Students are increasingly of all ages, not to mention that there are many postgraduates who take part as well as undergraduate mature students. I'll change the language in a (hopefully) non-contravertial way in order to change this. Please let me know if you disagree. Prlewis0 (talk) 22:30, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

I think it is fair to use ordinary age in this context as in the UK there is a legal deffinition as to what constitutes a 'mature student' for tax, funding and other mostly monetry purposes. I think it should be used because it also reflects the fact that older (And in the OU's case essentially proffessional teams) have an advantage over the 18-22 y/o the format is designed for.( (talk) 13:27, 20 January 2009 (UTC))

University Challenge userbox[edit]

UC This user watches University Challenge
Jeremy Paxman: "And here's your starter for ten..." This user took part in University Challenge for University of Birmingham in 2007
Leonardo da Vinci's rhombicuboctahedron And here's this user's starter for ten...

I've created a University Challenge userbox – visit {{User:UBX/University Challenge}} for instructions on how to use it. — Cheers, JackLee talk 01:50, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Disqualification of Corpus Christi[edit]

Surely as Corpus Christi have been disqualified, they cannot be "runners up"? The press release says Sam Kay was not eligible for the "final rounds" - does this include the semi-finals? If so, then the result from the semi-final must be void, and Corpus Christi cannot be eligible to be declared "runners up". TomPhil 18:47, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

Is there any formal consolation for the runners up?
I'd say the runner-up box should be left blank with a footnote explaining the unusual nature of the result. Timrollpickering (talk) 19:21, 2 March 2009 (UTC)
Kay was not eligible for the quarter or semi-finals, since they were filmed the same weekend as the final (November 2008). Logically the runners-up should be the team Corpus defeated the the semi: St John's College, Cambridge. The BBC have made no announcement about the runners up however, so probably best to leave it blank for the moment. (talk) 20:06, 2 March 2009 (UTC)
I doubt if there is any official status of "runners-up" anyway - it's not as though they win any prize money, or a medal. The clearest solution for this article would be, as now, to have a blank "runners-up" box with an explanatory footnote. Ghmyrtle (talk) 20:16, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

Qualification to appear on UC[edit]

Anybody know in what way it is decided which universities are able to participate in the show, given that obviously only a fractional number of UK institutions take part? I can't see any information on this around the net. Caspar esq. (talk) 21:46, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

Obviously before the explosion of polytechnics into universities, but I appeared in 1984 and as far as I remember, there was a list of universities and Oxbridge colleges and they just ran through it on a rolling basis. Student Unions were written to, but if they didn't reply, they didn't get to enter a team. After that, there was a selection exercise, and I believe those Universities that didn't reach a certain standard overall were eliminated. Not very egalitarian, perhaps, but then perhaps Universities aren't meant to be. Rodhullandemu 22:07, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
All this is from memory but may be sourceable somewhere.
A lot more apply but not all get through. I believe instructions on how to enter teams are sent to all or nearly all universities, usually to the students' union. It is then down to them to decide if they want to submit a team but that has to be organised locally (and some don't submit teams because no organisation gets going).
A lot will select a team one way or another (anything from staging local trials for filtering applicants to arm twisting five people) and send their details off to the production team. The teams are sent a set of general knowledge questions to answer and send back. Then on the basis of the returns the best teams are invited to a non-televised heat/interview held in several locations around the country. Again the team has to answer questions, this time timed and individually (but with only at least one member having to get the right answer to score). This is as far as the team I was on got, but I think this is where the final teams for television are picked. Timrollpickering (talk) 22:12, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
That is all very informative, thank you. The added confusion now is that my university (Glasgow) has two Unions, the only in the country I think that has this, so I will have to burrow around and see which one they dealt with... Caspar esq. (talk) 21:08, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
At Birmingham in 2007, the student union invited students to take part in trials. A timed quiz consisting of a large number of questions was administered. Participants with the eight highest scores were then invited to form two teams, and competed against each other in a mock quiz in the presence of Granada TV staff. The staff then interviewed all these students, and picked the four students they wanted to form the Birmingham team.
It would be nice to have some information in the article on how the universities that appear on the show are selected, but I'm not sure how the information is going to be sourced. Have any former participants written memoirs, perhaps? I don't suppose there's anything on this in the University Challenge quiz books that have been published from time to time? By the way, the article really needs more references. — Cheers, JackLee talk 05:51, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

The BBC aired a two-part documentary just before the beginning of the 2014-15 series, "University Challenge: Class of 2014," which looked at how universities got onto the show. Getting in front of Paxman is in two parts. Firstly, each university puts together a team of five (four main, one reserve) in whatever manner they like, though most are now organised enough to hold tests or examinations (Manchester is an excellent example), and once a team is formed, they apply to the show.

Researchers from the production team then visit each team, setting each a standardised quiz* and an interview. Successful applicants are those that score well in the quiz and have some character to bring to the show. (*The quiz is completed by each team member individually but scored collectively. Thus, if the quiz is 40 questions, the total maximum score possible is 40.) — mosshawk talk 08:40, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Red Dwarf[edit]

Was the Red Dwarf parody "Universe challenge" actually a 'special' or was it just a parody done by Red Dwarf? It seems out of place in that list in any case. do people think it should instead have a mention in the popular culture section? Quoth 31 (talk) 11:45, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

I assume the original poster means a parody along the lines of what The Young Ones did. "Red Dwarf Universe Challenge" was a legitimate match, from the looks of it. (It is not available on any of the video releases - presumably, The College Bowl Company, which owns the rights to University Challenge, wouldn't allow it for some strange reason - but it is on YouTube. Note that the article is correct in that it was five-on-five, not four-on-four.) -- That Don Guy (talk) 15:06, 5 September 2017 (UTC)

Collegiate Universities[edit]

Does anyone know why other collegiate universities such as York and Durham aren't (seemingly) eligible to include individual colleges as they are with Cambridge and Oxford? I only ask because it was the reason I looked up the page in the first place and therefore might be worthy of inclusion to the article if anyone has the answer? (talk) 20:29, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Can someone appear on the show twice?[edit]

I couldn't find an answer in the article: Is there a rule prohibiting an individual from being in the university team multiple times? That is, could any of the participants in one year, assuming they are still students, participate again the next year? This would be helpful to add to the article. (talk) 09:10, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

I think it must be possible for people to appear on the show twice, as over Christmas 2011, there were two contestants - Daisy Christodoulu and Sarah Fallell, nee Fitzpatrcick - who had appeared on the show before. ACEOREVIVED (talk) 20:30, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Recorded not live[edit]

I understand that programmes are (now) recorded, not live, as is evidenced by the fact that on programmes shown in the winter/spring one or two team members are "awaiting their results". Has this always been the case? Poshseagull (talk) 18:38, 7 April 2011 (UTC)


Apologies, I put in information on the music round, but I see that is already in the paragraph on the picture rounds. I wonder however whether this paragraph could be a little more informative about these rounds and whether its structure could be improved.ACEOREVIVED (talk) 15:53, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

The Graduates University Challenge: A spinoff in 2012[edit]

I think it should be said that over Christmas 2011, Jeremy Paxman said that the undergraduates were going to have a break, with graduates from universities answering questions. This show featured numerous celebrities, such as Sally Magnusson or Zoe Lyons, answering questions. This ought to go in the article somewhere, but I was not sure where the best section for it was. ACEOREVIVED (talk) 20:34, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

The teams are also having a "Christmas special" featuring celebrity graduates from different universities in December 2012 - I think I did put some information about this in the article somewhere. ACEOREVIVED (talk) 00:36, 19 December 2012 (UTC) Yes I did - it is currently the last sentence of the section marked by the sub-heading "Spin-off shows". ACEOREVIVED (talk) 11:53, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Schools Challenge[edit]

The article states that Schools Challenge was untelevised, however I actually appeared on the televised version that was certainly aired in the Granada region if not on all regional ITV stations back in either 1997 or 1998. Mark Radcliffe hosted the show. I'm not sure how that fits with being referenced, but it definitely isn't an untelevised equivilent — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:42, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Theme tune[edit]

'The theme tune is called "College Boy" and was composed by Derek New.' Was it originally composed for the show? If not, any other background info about this now-classic tune? Does the composer still earn from it? Valetude (talk) 14:38, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

“Quizknacker“ by Joachim Telgenbüscher[edit]

I'm reading a book by Joachim Telgenbüscher called “Quizknacker“. Telgenbüscher was a contestant in many different quiz shows, financing his studies in Cambridge with the money he won and one chapter of his book deals with “University Challenge“. Maybe he or his book should be included in the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:18, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Greatest compliment[edit]

In Episode 16 of Series 44, broadcast on 3 November 2014, "Wikipedia" was the answer to the first question, which involved a quote taken from this interview with founder Jimmy Wales about gender inequality. The question was successfully interrupted by Matthew Stallard (PhD in American Studies), from University of Manchester, and the team went on to win the contest: [1]. Martinevans123 (talk) 22:41, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Bzzzzz........ Nottingham, Hamilton, in a 1971 time warp. This is not relevant to improving the article. Ten points to me, and for my bonus question..... Ghmyrtle (talk) 20:36, 8 November 2014 (UTC)
Your bonus is a picture question: how can we get this guy a medal? Martinevans123 (talk) 20:52, 8 November 2014 (UTC)
He's called Arthur...!! Actually I thought he was a bit of a twat. Only spoke to the Oxbridge students, no time for plebs like us. Ghmyrtle (talk) 21:32, 8 November 2014 (UTC)
And quite right, too. Glad some people have standards! I find that very inspiring.
"Like a Night Club in the morning, you’re the bitter end.
"Like a recently disinfected shit-house, you’re clean round the bend." - Salford, Clarke
Martinevans123 (talk) 22:14, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Proposed merge with Christmas University Challenge[edit]

Doesn't expand on anything that isn't already on University Challenge. BangJan1999 20:49, 28 September 2017 (UTC)

Would prefer to keep separate. They are quite different in tone. Martinevans123 (talk) 21:21, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
I can see both sides of this argument. I would agree that they are quite different in tone, but Christmas University Challenge is not exactly a programme in its own right any more than celebrity editions of things like Pointless (Pointless Celebrities is a redirect to the Pointless article) or the Weakest Link. However it has been a fairly big part of BBC 2's Chritsmas schedule for a few years so is possibly notable enough to be its own article.Dunarc (talk) 21:13, 17 December 2017 (UTC) AmendedDunarc (talk) 15:47, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
Conflating wiki entries on parallel but different topics tends to make life harder for readers by increasing the number of strands they have to disentangle. The issue of lots of strands, each presupposing a slightly different overall structure for the entry, is at its most acute where - as here - a large number of people like to keep an eye on and contribute to one (or both) of the entries in question. Sometimes other considerations may trump this concern. But if it came to a vote, in this case I would go for keeping the two entries separate. Regards Charles01 (talk) 16:59, 21 December 2017 (UTC)

On the buzzer[edit]

One team has a buzzer. The other team has a bell. Has this always been so? How are buzzer and bell allocated? Martinevans123 (talk) 21:51, 5 January 2018 (UTC)