You turn your back for one minute, then . . . University Challenge is back ! Yes, if you're wondering, I didn't review it last Monday because I didn't see it. To tell you the truth, I didn't even know it was on. So I'm indebted to Weaver's Week for that. With a great effort of will, when I saw the review today I stopped reading it immediately, and went for my trusty remote control. If I'd left it a day later, then I'd have missed it completely , since we can only watch things on demand for 7 days.
Well, here's hoping that we have a series which replicates the high standards and high drama of the last series, without the descent into low farce at the end of it. The first match up paired Christ's College Cambridge with the University of Warwick , winners in 2007. It was actually a very close match, with Warwick streaking off, Christ's pulling them back, and then Warwick just eking out a lead by the end, to win by 200 points to 170. That's a close match , and as good a way to start the series as any.
Most impressive was Mr. Christmas of Warwick, who bagged more than his fair share of the starters. Was it my imagination, though, or did we see him use a naughty little word when he buzzed in too early on a starter ? If it was just my imagination, then I apologise. It puts me in mind of Miriam Margolyes, who appeared in an early series , and claimed that she used the 'F' word when she got a question wrong, and that it was never edited out, thus becoming the first person to use that word on British TV since she predated Kenneth Tynan by a few years. Sadly the tape of the show was erased, I believe, so we will never know for certain. If we're looking for quiz connections with use of that word, the presenter on whose show Mr. Tynan used the 'F' word was none other than Robert Robinson - doyen of 'Ask the Family' and 'Brain of Britain'.
Here's a thought to gladden the cockles of your heart. Only Connect returns tomorrow, to provide a powerhouse quiz hour, for viewers able to receive BBC4. So at least the series is back, even if the Beeb are resisting the wishes of its fans , ie that it could actually make a move to BBC2, where it would fit like a glove IMHO, and everyone would have the opportunity to see it.
Thi is turning into something like a mini round up on TV quizzes, and that being the case, a word about "The Chase". I personally think that this has been a really enjoyable show. That last, Final Chase round is great TV, and has become compulsive viewing as far as the Clark sofa is concerned. Looking back to my comments about contestants being at a disadvantage having to buzz in, its still turned out that 3 or 4 of the teams have actually managed to win the money. Again, I know that comparisons are odious, but if you do compare this with the number of teams who actually succeed on Eggheads, then it does seem to suggest that you do have a greater chance of success on the Chase. From what I've heard its done pretty much at least as well in the ratings as Divided. So here's a radical suggestion. Commission them both. If people really like Divided, then good luck to them. Its not a bad show, even though its not really my cup of tea. But make sure you commission The Chase as well.