Tuesday, 28 July 2009

TV Watch - University Challenge Heat 4 - Only Connect Heat 3

University Challenge - First Round Heat 4 - Clare College Cambridge v. Jesus College Oxford

Tonight saw our first Cambridge v. Oxford showdown. Jeremy Paxman waxed lyrical, calling them two of the most beautiful educational establishments in the country. Well and good. Now normally I am able to remain completely impartial during an Oxbridge match. However sitting on the far right of the Clare team, Matt Cliffe announced that he is from Ealing, West London. Well, that makes two of us. Now bearing in mind that each of the colleges or Universities that I've burdened with my support so far in this series have all lost, I was tempted to support Jesus College to see if I could hex them as well. But I reasoned that to do such a thing would be an abuse of my powers.
I did check to see if there was a Jones within the Jesus team, but alas no, so we were spared the amusing possibility of Roger Tilling announcing " Jesus - Jones "

On with the show. Clare College snaffled up the first starter but failed to convert bonuses. For the next 6 or 7 minutes it was all Jesus College. It was interesting to see poker hands being used as a picture bonus. Thankfully the answers weren't any of the obscure terms which had been called for in last week's Only Connect. I was also very interested to hear that it was Norman Mailer who coined the term 'factoid'. There was me thinking it was Steve Wright.

Ten Minutes into the show and my boy Cliffe scored Clare's second starter. They had a couple of stinkers for their bonuses. I have never heard of the Tulip Revolution, yet apparently it only happened as recently as 2005. Cliffe scored the next starter as well, and Captain Hegarty was happy to pass the bonuses over to him . Clare now appeared to be making a fight of it, but there was a large gap to make up, even though the show wasn't yet half over. A Music starter saw Jeremy Paxman barely disguising his disdain that none of the players recognised the piece of music was by Mendelsson . "It is rather a famous piece of music by Mendelsson . . . still never mind " he sighed, more in sorrow than in anger. There was an interesting question about quotes from Marshall Macluhan. "There is no difference between Education and Entertainment. " All I can say is that Marshall Macluhan never saw me trying to teach French a few years ago.

Clare were never buzzed out of the last half of the show in the same way that they were outplayed in the first ten minutes, but it fair to say that Jesus continued to have slightly the better of the play right up until the gong. I was delighted to hear two late bonus questions about Robert Recorde of Tenby. Maybe not across the whole of the UK, but certainly in South Wales the question about him being the man who invented the equals sign has been doing the rounds for some time.

In the end Jesus ran out worthy winners with a score of 215, which impressed our Jeremy, and is certainly a good score when you think that Clare were no mugs. In particular Mr. Speller of Jesus College looks to be a bit of a star. I may well be wrong, but I think he was responsible for 8 starters, and that's very good going. As for Clare, Mr. Hegarty played a captain's innings with 5 starters, and their 165 puts them in second place on the repechage board, behind last week's runners - up University College London. So the teams that have received support from the Clark sofa maintain their 100% record of coming second. Any teams in next year's competition who wish to bribe me to support their opposition can contact me through email !

Only Connect - First Round Heat 3 - The History Boys v. The Rugby Boys

Last week we saw youth pitted against experience, with youth emerging victorious. Tonight, though, we had experience versus experience. All 6 of the players on show tonight were experienced and successful quizzers, and all of them have a TV track record. Up for the History Boys were Rob Hannah, Gareth Kingston and Craig Element. Rob was, by some distance, the youngest player in either team last night, but he's only young in terms of years, not quiz experience. Rob reached the last 16 of last year's Are You An Egghead, and along with Craig he was a member of the highest earning winning team on the second series of Battle of the Brains. Hardly a novice at all. Craig I have already mentioned, and as for Gareth, well you may well remember him as a Mastermind semi-finallist in the last series.

The Rugby boys have an equally impressive pedigree. I've played against them many times, in Newport, in the CIU and other places as well. Richard Parnell is quite simply one of the finest quizzers in South Wales, and I can vouch for the fact that he is a truly formidable opponent. I believe that he was a £125,000 winner on Millionaire. Gary Dermody captained The Ant Hill Mob in the first series of Battle of the Brains, a team containing both Richie and Mark. As for Mark himself, well he's probably the highest profile quizzer we've seen in this series so far, following his recent stint on The Chase. Other notable performances in Mark's action packed career include a big Millionaire win, and coming runner up to Chris Hughes in Brain of Britain.

All of which begs the question. What is the show doing pitting two such formidable teams against each other in the first round ? Well, maybe that's a little unfair. For all I know all of the other teams we haven't seen yet are equally strong. I'd be surprised if they were all as strong as this, though. Oh well, on with the show. The History Boys started well and confidently, but the Rugby Boys started like an express train, picking off the answers after only needing one or two clues. This first round was a stunning performance, which put me in mind of the Crossworders in last year's final. At the end of round 1 Rugby led History by 7 points to 2.

In round two at least the Rugby Boys showed that they are not totally infallible by confusing Welland - as in the canal, with Yelland - as in the former editor of the Sun. The express train had slowed appreciably, as the History Boys had the better of the round, scoring 6 points to the Rugby Boys' 4, taking the score to 11 - 8.

The Connections Wall saw the Rugby Boys go first. Characters from ER - types of heel - young of creatures and occupational surnames were all unravelled to see the team take maximum points. I'll be honest, I would have struggled, because of the ER connection. I'm not entirely sure I would have got all of the heels either. The History Boys' wall was tricky too. They quickly saw that four of the names were Hungarian, and another four were types of moustache. However types of skirt , and words linked with -pig prove too much. I can't say anything, I couldn't see either connection myself until they were pointed out at the end. So the Rugby Boys' lead increased, as the score went to 21 - 13.

To be fair, the History Boys had a real bash at the missing vowels round, but so did the Rugby Boys, as most were taken between them, although neither team was too sure on the ice-skating terms. At the end the score was 28 - 17. 17 as a losing score is really good, which bears out my point that I do think that the show may have dropped a small clanger by matching up two such good teams in the first round, although I am willing to be proven wrong in this. Congratulations to the Rugby Boys - this was a formidable performance, and it will take something special to beat them, I fancy.


Psidekick said...

Thank you for blogging on University Challenge! I watch each episode religiously - but alone - so it's nice to see what another enthusiast makes of it.

Londinius said...

Hi Richard,

Thanks for your comments.
Like you I love the show - alas I am currently in Spain staying with in-laws who have neither BBC2 nor I player, so my next review won't be for a little while.

I trust that you read Weavers Week . If not, then google it, and you'll find great reviews every week.