Tuesday, 13 October 2009

TV Watch - University Challenge

First Round Heat 14/14 – Regent’s Park College Oxford v. Emmanuel College Cambridge

Here we are then, the last first round match of the series. Its an Oxbridge match, too, always guaranteed to bring out the best fighting qualities in both teams. Be honest, did you have any idea that there was a Regents Park College in Oxford ? That’s definitely something I’m going to use in a quizlink connection in the future. If I heard correctly, then some of the fewer than 200 students apparently go on to take up a ministry in the Baptist church.

As for Emmanuel, or Emma as its known in Cambridge apparently, has a chapel designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and one of the oldest swimming pools in the country. Alumni include Sebastian Faulks, who is a former contestant in University Challenge himself unless I am very much mistaken.

For much of the match this was an absorbing contest between two good teams, and it wasn’t until well into the second half of the show that Regents Park had the clear edge, and looked like they were going to win. Which left Emmanuel in the position of playing for a place in the repechage, and knowing exactly what they needed to do to get there. A bit of a strict adjudication, and a late flurry gave them the points they needed to join fellow Cambridge colleges Christ’s and Clare, and also University College London.
Here at LAM we may often make a point of highlighting some of Mr. Paxman’s more enjoyable interjections, but we must stress that in our opinion he is a very fair and honest man. However, a former Cambridge man himself, he couldn’t resist a wry chuckle at the fact that 3 of the 4 teams qualifying for the repechage are from Cambridge University.

Although the Regents Park team didn’t post one of the highest scores of this round, they did break the 200 points barrier, and they seem to have unearthed a little bit of a star in Mr. James Aber. What’s more – he’s from Ealing, like me ! What a man ! He managed no less than 8 starters, a terrific performance, and it was amusing to see his captain nominating him to answer bonuses even when he clearly hadn’t got a clue, and at one point he even said “Will you stop doing that ! “

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Mr. Paxman, after his spirited rebuttal of the dumbing down charges last weekend was in bullish mood right from the start. “Henry VIII ? !” he exclaimed at one ill-judged answer. A little later though, we saw the rare sight of him changing his mind as Jenny Harris of Emmanuel hesitated for a long time over a starter to which the answer actually was Henry VIII, which originally he seemed to be disallowing, then allowed with a stern warning and a verbal slap on the wrists. My goodness, but he was up for it in this show. Normally he only gets up to full speed by the last ten minutes, but last night he was like Murray Walker on amphetamines as he literally raced through the questions right from the start. Coming up to the last five minutes he refused James Aber of Regents Park’s answer of “RAB Butler and Hugh Gaitskill” to a question about Butskillism, since the full question did actually give Butler’s name, and specifically asked for the Labour leader. A fair adjudication, and one which did not materially effect the outcome of the match. As an aside, a question about the same subject was asked on Monday lunchtime’s “Brain of Britain “ on Radio 4. So does that mean that people are now going to suggest that BoB is dumbing down too ?

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week

I’m tempted to say everything that Jeremy Paxman told us about Regent’s Park College to this one. I was also intrigued that the Economist Style Guide defines ‘hikes’ as ‘walks, not increases.”

So that concludes the first round, which has been as enjoyable as ever. For a review of the round, and a look ahead to the next round, check out the next post.

5 comments:

Victor said...

I have to say i disagree with you over the last round of University Challenge an the disallowed answer from Regent's Park. As the contestant gave the correct answer, albeit within a fuller context than was required it was grossly unfair to then offer that starter to the Cambridge team.
Certainly it did not affect the ooutcome of the match but it did allow Cambridge to accrue extra points and place them on the highest losers board. I wonder if another team were consequently deposed and how they might feel about that.
The point being the Mr Paxman may well be fiery but that bullishness should not overide his ability to make fair judgements.
I'm left with just a slight feeling of some bias towards Cambridge and a desire on his part to get at least one Cambridge team into the final rounds.

tonym99 said...

I agree - so much that I was moved to search for comment on this - for Paxman to deny the points to someone who obviously knows the answer makes a mockery of the contest. What is UC all about if not to identify who knows the answers? Or is it to be trick questions from now on, just to try to catch out those who actually know too much...?

Londinius said...

Hi Victory and Tonym99

Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comments. I do know where you are coming from and I do accept your point of view on this one. It was certainly a very strict call, and when I watched it I did think that this was going to cause controversy and raise some comments. By the strict letter of the question - and I hasten to add this is just my opinion and by all means feel free to disagree - by the strict letter of the question I think Paxman was correct in saying that the question did only ask for the Labour leader. But I do agree that it was a very harsh adjudication.

Thanks for leaving comments - feel free to do so any time.

Will Jones said...

Got to say that I think the ruling was just plain wrong. Only when it was completed were the participants aware that the question was just asking for Gaitskell. Regent's Park Aber had buzzed with a perfectly acceptable answer - part of the game is to interrupt questions. This kind of thing happens too often on UC and was easy to solve fairly. There was an incident a while back asking for the meanings of the initial letters of Laser, but the fact that more than just the acronym was required was only clear at the end of the question.

As Victor suggested above, I think this ruling pushed out the 4th highest loser place.

Londinius said...

Hi Will

I know where you're coming from, and I'm not a great lover of 'swerves' by any stretch of the imagination. However, to play Devil's Advocate for a moment, could it not be argued that if you do buzz in early you are taking a calculated risk, which sometimes will not be worth taking ?

Thanks for dropping by.