Tuesday, 6 July 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

First Round Match 1 – St. Andrews v. Bristol

When all is said and done there are few more welcome sounds at this time of year than Roger Tilling announcing the start of a new season of University Challenge. JP announced at the top of the show that the average age of this year’s contestants – 22 – is a little younger than usual. Oh well, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.The most popular subject among this year’s contestants is English. Don’t blame them, either. First to be introduced were St. Andrews University, who amazingly haven’t won the title since 1982. I could be wrong about this, but I think St. Andrews teams are always given the choice of whether to wear their distinctive red robes, and tonight’s team chose not to. Opponents Bristol are the most oversubscribed University in the UK, and it was nice to see a nod in old-boy David Nicholls’ direction. If you haven’t read Starter for Ten – do.

First blood in this season went to Miss Critchley of Bristol, who identified the opening lines of “A Brief History of Time “. 2 bonuses were taken. St. Andrews hit back immediately. Another starter by Mr. Nakornchai put them into the lead, and they pushed this further by taking two out of three bonuses on English Dukedoms. Miss Malcolm of Bristol looked like she didn’t really believe her own answer when she said that the body part used as a description for a number of cities including Jerusalem was navel, but it was right, anyway. Three bonuses on incendiary devices were correctly taken, and this Bristol outfit were certainly working well as a team. All square at 45 apiece, and on with the picture starter. This was a picture of part of the periodic table , which led to a truly great set of bonuses of the sort UC does so well. Other parts of the table were shown, with an element missing. However getting the element wasn’t enough. From the element’s abbreviation, they had to say which British city this would be the postcode for. So for the first one, Ca for Calcium was missing, which gives the answer Carlisle. Thank you Sporcle, for I officially had My Finest Hour Ever With A Chemistry Question by identifying Hg for Harrogate, and s for Sheffield. Make the most of it, Dave – it’ll never happen again. The Bristol team missed out only on Sheffield.

At the ten minute mark Bristol were in the ascendancy, leading by 80 to 45. God knows where from, but I dragged up Thomas Love Peacock as the author of Headlong Hall. Neither team did, but on a Maths question Mr. Nakornchai managed another timely buzz in. However this did mean that they got a set of literature bonuses on Shakespeare’s collaborators. 1 was taken. Miss Polak of St. Andrews put them right back on terms by identifying Iphigenia as the character linking a series of different works. So naturally this was followed by a set of bonuses on the nicknames of African football teams. Again, one was taken. Still at this stage of the game St. A’s were buzzing Bristol out of the contest as they took the next starter, identifying a piece of music composed by Vaughan Williams. Captain Small knew two of the following pieces, which took his team into the lead. Neither team could identify which were the games of the 20th Olympiad – they were the 1972 games in Munich. Miss Critchley identified a culturally significant event in 1969 as the making of the Abbey Road cover shot, and Bristol had almost completely closed the gap that St. Andrew’s had worked so hard for. A set of bonuses on Anglish followed. Apparently Anglish seeks to replace words of latin origin with words of anglo saxon origin. Apparently Learnhall is the word they use for University. Learnbuggerhall is the name for my old school – no , I’m only joshing ! I loved the place really. Bristol pulled out another two starters, and a healthy sprinkling of bonuses to pull away again. Neither team could identify a picture of a water vole, so at the 20 minute mark Bristol led by 125 to 95. Still anybody’s game.

St. Andrews took the next starter, and then were given picture bonuses identifying a pine marten, a long eared bat and a harvest mouse. “Yeeeeessss ! “ yelled our Jeremy. “It IS a long eared bat !” He does get excited over the strangest things, sometimes. Still, with two starters and five out of 6 bonuses, St. Andrews were suddenly in the lead, and they took the following starter as well. Five minutes to go, and St. Andrews, on 160, had a 35 point lead. Bristol took the next, but then Captain Williams zigged with Alice in Wonderland when he should have zagged with Through The Looking Glass. St. Andrews gratefully accepted that one and bonuses, to take their score to 185.The skipper of Bristol easily redeemed himself, though, taking the next starter on fundamental particles. Again, Miss Cricthley provide a timely starter answer, identifying the word Bird as the link between the titles of works by Harper Lee and Maya Angelou, among others. Just over a minute to go, and Bristol were still behind.Mr. Williams identified the Arabic term for a prayer mat, and two bonuses were enough to edge Bristol ahead, by 190 to 185. One starter went unanswered, and the gong went before the next could be asked. What a great show. Bristol go through as of right, but JP hit the nail on the head saying that 185 should surely be enough to get St. Andrews into the repechage round – it certainly would have done last year. We all know what happened to one of the teams who lost in the first round last year – a certain Emmanuel College, don’t we ?

Welcome back UC – I’ve missed you !

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Nothing much to report at this early stage of the competition, as JP seems to have been taking his happy pills during the off season. Still, when asking a question which demanded the answer Petra, he did begin to wax lyrical after being given the right answer, adding,
“A Rose Red City, Half as old as Time”

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

“The Lollipop Shoes “ is the sequel to “Chocolat” by Joanne Harris.


Jack said...

Hi Dave
I'm Jack. I'm a first time poster and long time reader. I'm only sixteen, so I'm probably one of the younger readers of this blog.
Last night's match was very exciting and close. I expected a close match, as they usually start the series with an exciting one. And I agree that 185 should be enough to bring St Andrews back. Only once in the entire Paxman era has the side that lost the first match of the series not made it back.
Keep up the good work! Enjoyed your reviews of the last series; hope you keep it up for this series!

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Welcome on board ! All I can do is applaud your excellent taste.

Thanks for the fact that only once in the Paxman era has the side that lost the first match not made it back - I honestly did not know that. Thanks for the kind comments - keep watching this space.


Des Elmes said...

There is an actual reason as to why it's only happened once so far in the Paxman Era that the team losing the opening match has not returned to play again: it is usual for the producers to choose an exciting match to be the first broadcast in each new series, according to UKGameshows.com.

And indeed, the only opening match up to now where the losing team has not returned - in the Gail Trimble Series of 2008/9 - wasn't much to write home about, as Hull (140 points) never really threatened City University (230). One can only gather that the producers came to realise that their usual doings had been found out by eagle-eyed members of the public, and thus they decided that things would be different on this one occasion.

viking_oneil said...

As a competitor on one of this year's teams, I've been looking forward to both this series and these blogs.

From a televisual point of view, Des' comment makes sense; I can see why a TV company would want to arrange the running order to start with an interesting show, and/or avoid showing one-sided matches back to back if possible.

However, this year Paxman's introduction to the St Andrews / Bristol match did describe it as the first of the season... I suppose that this could have been looped on during post-production to a mid-first round episode, but I've just re-watched the opening again on BBC iPlayer and can't see the join.


Londinius said...

Hi Des, and welcome back.

I know what you're saying, but I'm with Tristram on this one - I looked at it on the iplayer and I couldn't see the join.

Hi Tristram and welcome to LAM. I welcome evrybody's contributions, but its especially pleasing to have people who have taken part in the series . May I ask whether you know when your first match is going to be on ? I'll be really looking forward to it.

viking_oneil said...

Hi Dave,

We've been told (provisionally - barring any unforeseen transmission delaying world events) that our match should be shown on August 30th.

All four of my team (Sheffield University) are keen TV quiz viewers, and have been long time readers/lurkers on this excellant blog.

davidbod said...

The "pick-up" will be from the start of the programme and then the original take resumes at either 00:52 or 01:25. Sometimes they offset the sound and pictures (i.e. you might see the old pictures first while still hearing the new take) to smooth over the join.

Londinius said...

Thanks for explaining that David. However it was done it was an exicitng show, and a very good start to the new series.

Andrew B. said...

Certainly on "Only Connect" the opening chat for our heat was filmed twice - once for "normal" use, and once in case it was transmitted as the first of the series. (David B can confirm whether this is carried out for all heats or just "exciting" ones).