Tuesday, 8 December 2009

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Round 2 – Heat 6/8 – Jesus College Oxford v. University of Warwick

Jesus College Oxford, first of tonight’s teams, were approved of by JP in his introduction as a pretty clean living bunch, apparently on the strength of the fact that they don’t read Viz. They won one of the first round’s Oxford v. Cambridge match ups, defeating Clare College Cambridge by 215 to 165. Clare did actually come back in the repechage round, but failed to progress any further. As for opponents Warwick, they too defeated a Cambridge College, Christ’s, who also made it to the repechage round, by 200 points to 170. JP berated Warwick for knowing their Shakespeare, but not their Milton or their Lovelace. Well, Mr. Paxman, not everyone can know his Lovelace from his elbow.

We began with a guess the year question, and Jesus correctly identified 1983 as the year that saw the introduction of the pound coin, amongst other things. The fifteen points they scored for this were the only ones they managed until almost a third of the way through the show. Warwick had it all pretty much their own way, racking up a score of 75, until Mr. Docherty buzzed in to correctly identify terms relating to the Big Bang Theory, almost on the stroke of the ten minute mark.

I loved the question about the Wendy Cope quote, regarding the call for the abolition of the position of poet laureate. The fact is that it was Wendy Cope who presented last year’s trophy at the end of the Grand Final. Nice to see UC looking after its own. Jesus had the bit between their teeth now, and had a lead of five points at the halfway stage. It didn’t last long, mind, since Warwick were happy to snap up the next starter. Then Mr. Smalley of Warwick identified the element Thorium as being named after the Norse God of Thunder. The lead was shortlived. Warwick started to buzz with a little more urgency, converting a full set of bonuses on capital cities, but only one on paintings and artists. At 21 and a half minutes, Warwick led by 180 points to 100. So near . . . and yet. . .

From here on in , through the mad gallop to the finish it wasn’t quite all Jesus College, but all of the points scored from this time were theirs. Poor Mr. Christmas of Warwick, possibly trying to give his team the hurry up, ended up giving away penalties by buzzing too early. The old chestnut about the Haber process fell to Mr. Docherty of Jesus, to bring them within a couple of bonuses of the lead. The three bonuses went begging. No matter, Captain Hadley of Jesus spotted a group of plays by Moliere to win the next starter. Now they had their biggest lead of the match, and it got better as Hadley snapped up the next starter for good measure. They couldn’t buy a bonus at this stage, but it didn’t matter. Jesus won a fine contests by 200 points to 170. Very bad luck on Warwick, who were in the lead with the tape in sight, but just couldn’t find that one extra starter they needed in the last five minutes. Congratulations to Jesus. To my layman’s eye they look a pretty well balanced team. All of them contributed correct starter answers, and if the questions go their way they could be a difficult proposition for anyone else in the quarter finals.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

To use a term from welsh rugby, our JP ‘got his retaliation in early ‘ in this show. Roger Tilling had barely finished announcing
" – asking the questions – Jeeerrrreeemmmmyyyyy Paxman !", before the great man favoured us with this observation –
"Once again we’re going to witness the calibre of the generation who will before long take over – God help us."

As for the contest itself, no huge outbursts, but there was this tasty little morsel to savour. When asked
“Which aquatic mammal rhymes with an aromatic bush ( amongst other things )" Mr. Docherty of Jesus suggested Alligator. The answer was turtle – myrtle. “Alligator bush !” sneered our Jeremy.

Interesting Fact Of The Week I Didn’t Already Know

This may well be common knowledge for all I know, but I had no idea that the kidnapping of the Lindbergh Baby was the partial inspiration for Agatha Christie’s “Murder On The Orient Express “ .

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