Wednesday, 8 September 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – First round heat 10 – University College London v. Hertford College Oxford

What ? No University Challenge review on LAM until Wednesday evening ? What on earth is the matter ? Nothing serious, just pressure of being back at work, dear readers, and I can only but apologise. I am sorry.

Still, lets waste no more time on crying over spilt milk. On Monday night’s show we saw a London University College – the biggest in fact, in the shape of University College, trying to beat the curse of being supported from the Clark sofa. Yes, I’m sorry , but I am an old University of London man myself. The so called ‘Godless Institution of Gower Street’ was represented by Christopher Hale, John Walker, David Dearlove and captain James Vale. Their opponents were the venerable Hertford College Oxford. The college has a history going back to 1282, and numbers among its old boys Donne, Swift and Hobbes. Weren’t they a firm of tailors in Ealing Broadway once ? Anyway, tonight’s team mostly came from a little further afield, in the shape of James Golden – Annie Hollister – Chris James , and captain Ann Royrvik. If the skipper is reading, I’m awfully sorry, but I don’t know how to get the correct letter in the blog to make the proper norwegian spelling of your surname.

What links a clergyman, a chemist, a Liverpool art gallery, and The Colour Purple ? Easy – Walker. Well, John Walker of UCL thought so. Coincidence of the day, I think. Off we went on a little spree of UCL starters. They recognised that the Texas based ‘virtual company with virtual profits ‘ was Enron. Chris James of Hertford tried to break the monopoly by suggesting the word ‘tutor’ as coming from the greek for – to lead the child. However the right word – pedagogue – was supplied by David Dearlove. Well, he is from Isleworth, so obviously a man of wit and intelligence. Yes, ok, at this stage UCL were being a little bit profligate with the bonuses, but at this stage of the game it was pretty much all one-way traffic. I liked the way that John Walker offered the word theatre to JP as answer to one of the starters as if he was holding it with a pair of tongs, and couldn’t believe that it was actually right.

We didn’t have to wait too long for a real University Challenge special tonight. The first picture starter showed a map of the USA. You could almost see the two American members of the Hertford team smacking their lips in anticipation. Each of the states, though, was depicted with a country’s national flag . But why ? UCL were so close when they suggested the flag represented a country with the same area as the state. However Hertford hit the nail on the head saying each represented a country with a similar population size. Thus a negative score became a positive one, and on the 10 minute mark UCL led by 65 t0 5.

Hertford took the next starter on artists, and managed two of the three bonuses. However UCL came straight back when Christopher Hale buzzed in very early to recognise a definition belonging to double entry bookkeeping. For I think the first time in the competition a full set of bonuses were taken . They took the next starter as well , and again took three bonuses. I like to give every team a sympathetic hearing, but it seemed that UCL had upped it a gear – hello, I thought – thrashing on the cards here. Yet Hertford too rose to the challenge. James Golden decided that silence wasn’t, and began to weigh in with some very valuable starters. I didn’t know that St. Lucy is often depicted carrying a dish with her own eyes upon it, but he did.

Then followed a great music starter. Teams were told they would be played a song, and then have to supply the name of the artist and song that were taken to court for plagiarising it. Being a sad old git I fully expected to hear The Chiffons He’s So Fine, and wasn’t disappointed. Alas, James Golden only recognised that the offending song would be George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord after JP had played it to everyone. Look, we all make mistakes in the heat of the battle.The bonuses followed the next starter. I did know that Oasis’ Whatever was accused of plagiarising Neil Innes’ How Sweet To Be an Idiot, but not the others. Great set of bonuses. UCL then knew that David Howell became the UKs youngest chess grandmaster. Hertford recognised a definition of the word suture, and by the 20 minute mark, the scores were 140 to 60. Comfortable win for UCL on the cards ? Well, maybe, but nobody seemed to have told Hertford this. James Golden recognised Tolstoy for the second picture starter. Pushkin and Dostoevsky were also identified, but Turgenev wasn’t. Still, the fightback was under way. David Dearlove moved UCL away again slightly by knowing that it was Vera Lynn who became the oldest artist to have a UK chart topping album. In one of the subsequent bonuses captain Vale was told off by Jeremy Paxman for saying witch elm in place of dutch elm, and not given the points either , which is adding insult to injury. James Golden took the next starter, and with 2 bonuses taken the gap was down to 30 points. Time was running out. It seemed that both teams suddenly became very buzzer twitchy, as both teams lost points for buzzing early on the next two starters. A wrong interruption by UCL gave a starter to Hertford, who closed the gap to 15. Oh, how UCL must have been ruing those missed bonuses at this stage. One, two , three starters in a row went begging. Finally a film question, about Sheriff Will Kane. With next to no time remaining Annie Hollister did exactly the right thing, she buzzed and had a go. Unfortunately it was the wrong answer , Citizen Kane instead of the correct answer High Noon, but she had to guess. So at the gong , which followed almost immediately, the result was a win for UCL by 155 to 125.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

A rather torpid JP this week, possibly lulled by the rather gentle pace of this week’s show. Still he did manage a fine expression of disgust as one of UCL suggested that Churchill had called provides of beer to be national benefactors, or some such. “Completely wrong ! Its babies with milk !”

I did think he was surprisingly forgiving when James Golden buzzed in with the answer “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison, after the song had already been played. Time was he would have been practically leaping over his desk with indignation over that one.

Interesting Fact I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week

Ray Parker Jr. was taken to court by Huey Lewis and the News, over the claim that his massive hit “Ghostbusters” plagiarised their song “I Want A New Drug “. The pair apparently settled out of court.


Des Elmes said...

Not a classic match by any means - with all due respect, neither team really got above third gear.

But there was certainly no shortage of entertainment - and there was another bit of it in that music round, when Paxo told UCL "It's Coldplay, your alumni!" when they got the third bonus wrong.

Jack said...

Agreed Des. 'Twas no classic match, but plenty of Paxmanisms to keep up entertained.

But let us turn to the repechage board, which has now remained unchanged for six weeks. At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised to see a repeat of what happened back in 2007-08, when the first four losing teams all went through to the repechage. Still four matches left though, so that could all change.

Anonymous said...

If the skipper is reading, I’m awfully sorry, but I don’t know how to get the correct letter in the blog to make the proper norwegian spelling of your surname.

If you're using Windows, hold down ALT and type 0248. Hey presto, an ø for Røyrvik.

Londinius said...

Hi Des

If you didn't have the odd beefburger now and again, then you wouldn't appreciate the fillet steak so much when you get it. I must admit, I did get quite into the fightback , and I did think when Hertford buzzed in for the last starter early that maybe this one would be right down to the wire.

Hi Jack - fascinating point about the repechage board. It could happen - we'll have to watch this space.

Jenny , you're an absolute mine of information. I'm off to try to amend the post ow. Many thanks


Londinius said...

Sorry Jenny - tried it, but I'm obviously doing something wrong with it.