Tuesday, 3 August 2010

TV Watch - University Challenge

First Round Match 5 – York v. Royal College of Music

At the start of this contest JP used the interesting term ‘plate glass institution’ to describe York. I understand it as a modern take on the term red-brick university, but it conjures up an unfortunate image of some bland headquarters of a faceless corporation. Sorry, I’m rambling. York were represented by Chris Caudwell, Ben Keane, Simon Donnelly and captain Andrew Clemo. As for the Royal College of Music, or RCM, I was delighted to hear JP explain that this is their first ever appearance in UC. So there’s hope for my alma mater Goldsmiths yet ! The epithet JP applied to the RCM was ‘leading conservatoire’ , which just shows my ignorance since I thought a conservatoire was where you ripen your tomatoes.RCM were represented by Stephen Daverson, Michael Scott, Mr. Corral Matute ( sorry ,but I didn’t catch your name, sir ) and captain Sam Evans.

York took the first starter by correctly identifying that Cupid and other people and mythological figures such as centaurs were often depicted carrying a bow and arrow. RCM hit straight back by answering a starter on George Orwell. One out of three bonuses on the West Country was taken. The third starter was our first missed starter of the show. Neither team recognised a quotation about the city of Venice. The real clue was talking about it marrying the sea. Oh well, this was followed by a Science starter on atomic particles, and again neither team could find the correct answer. Not that this will come as a surprise, but I couldn’t either. The rot stopped with a good question based on Vassari’s Lives of the Artists, concerning a demonstration given by Brunelleschi which led to the building of the Duomo in Florence. Good shout from Mr. Caudwell of York, that.

I have to say that I loved the first picture starter. All the teams had to do was to identify a pop group, - a pop group made of their lego counterparts ! Personally I thought that the starter picture was the hardest of the whole set, but Ben Keane of York saw that it was Blur very quickly. Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Queen were all despatched to the boundary for a full set.
Captain Sam Evans buzzed in very well to identify a quotation about Edgar Degas – apparently ‘nothing but a peeping Tom’ . This was a timely shout, since York were starting to build up a head of steam as we headed towards the 10 minute mark. 3 questions on the Nobel prize for physics followed. I did know that Willhelm Roentgen won the first, and that Dennis Gabor worked on holography, but the last escaped me. Neither team took the next starter, but Michael Scott of RCM kept up his team’s good work by identifying popcorn from a long clue. A good set of bonuses on Shakespeare’s Hamlet followed. After this set of bonuses the gap had been closed a little, and York now led by 60 points to 45 .

The gap narrowed further when Captain Sam Evans identified the mythological bird in titles of works by DH Lawrence, Shakespeare and E. Nesbit as the phoenix. One bonus correctly answered on heads of government of the Irish Republic brought the scores level. From one captain to another. Andrew Clemo, growing in confidence now and finding his buzzer form identified the Snowdon Mountain Railway as the only rack and pinion system railway in Britain. I was sorry to see York fail to answer that it was Khaled Hosseini who wrote the brilliant “One Thousand Splendid Suns”. “The Kite Runner” is a wonderful novel as well. However, I digress. Building on the good work of his captain Ben Keane correctly answered that red herring was a phrase possibly derived from the practice of drawing a smoked fish across the line of a fox’s tracks to put hunting hounds off the scent. After the bonuses York had eked out a lead of 40 points.

A music starter followed. It wasn’t really a surprise that RCM took this one, but it was nonetheless impressive the way that they identified Jacques Brel from a brief interlude. To make an impression, though, they needed more than the one bonus they actually managed. Another Science starter passed both teams by. Then Tom Evans correctly offered orchids as the largest family of flowering plants. A good buzz that. A frankly unhelpful set of bonuses on medical acronyms, for example PET, followed, and RCM were unable to benefit from them at all. At this stage Andrew Clemo decided to start to settle matters in York’s favour, by beginning a very good run. He correctly identified Alba as the four letter gaelic word for Scotland as a whole. Bonuses on paintings followed, and I think that the team must have misheard that they were being asked for paintings, as they offered the Venus de Milo as an answer to one of them. Well, we’ve all misheard or misunderstood questions before, so lets move on. With the bit firmly between his team captain Clemo interrupted the next starter, identifying Juan Sebastian del Cano as a member of Magellan’s expedition. Then just coming up to 20 minutes he took the picture starter by identifying a painting of the Storming of the Bastille in 1789. At the 20 minute mark York now led by 155 to 85.

Nothing was decided yet, but York looked good for at least a repechage berth, while RCM were going to have to have a spectacular last few minutes. Andrew Clemo took his 4th starter in a row by identifying a group of halogens from rather basic descriptions of them. A good buzz, that. By the end of the bonuses they had a 100 point lead. Captain Evans of RCM buzzed in early and guessed Knight on a question asking for one of Chaucer’s pilgrims. York made the mistake of conferring on a starter, and were penalised by our Jeremy for it. Which hardly mattered since they took the next starter anyway, which took them to 200. The longer the show went on, the better and better this York outfit were starting to look. Just to be on the safe side they took the next starter as well, correctly seeing that a new town on the River Severn was referring to Telford. This was followed by a really nice set of bonuses on the NATO alphabet. Captain Evans showed his mettle by taking the next starter, answering that Shami Chakrabati is the head of Liberty. They also took the next starter on the term used for religious restrictions on Jewish diet, which put them through the 100 point barrier. They might not have a chance of reaching the next round now, but they had the satisfaction of reaching respectability. The rearguard action was ended as the excellent Andrew Clemo took the last two starters, identifying that a Lusophone would speak Portuguese, and the bridge in the song from the 15th century would be the pont d’Avignon.

So at the bell York had assembled a fine score of 245, to York’s respectable 105. Not a thrashing at all, but something rather different from the close calls we’ve seen so far.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP seems to be warming to his work as the series progresses. We had quite a bit to choose from this week. Firstly, the growled warning to the York team, who dithered over a bonus about The Father of The House “Next time cut to the chase !”
He had laugh over the physics question asking for rays named after their discoverer, when RCM offered gamma rays. “That would be MISTER Gamma, would it ? “ his retort. Yet my favourite JP moment of the show was when York correctly gave the answer of Eric Satie, he muttered “Yes, your French pronunciation is as bad as mine. “

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week
Popcorn was introduced to the settlers at the very first Thanksgiving feast, where it was believed to contain spirits of the dead since it burst open on exposure to heat.


Jack said...

Regarding Mr Corral-Matute, I believe he said 'Al' was his name.

I also loved the Lego pop groups round! There's a guy on YouTube who does spoofs like that of The Apprentice.

Not much else to say really. To be honest, at this early stage of the contest, there's not much to comment on, unless it's a very close match. When we reach the later stages, we know what the teams's past records, so we can remark on how it compares to their previous games.

You might want to know that I'm currently reading 'Starter for ten', after you recommended it. I'm only a few chapters in, but already it's very funny. I love the caption on the front: "'I laughed a lot' - Jeremy Paxman"!

Anonymous said...

Yet my favourite JP moment of the show was when York correctly gave the answer of Eric Satie, he muttered "Yes, your French pronunciation is as bad as mine."

Ah yes, good old Eric Settee - the inventor of lounge music.

Unknown said...

I thought Mr Clemo was particularly impressive — probably the first captain I've really noticed this series, though perhaps that's just my memory failing me again.

Londinius said...

Hi K.

I agree about Andrew Clemo, and it seemed to me thathe got better and better as the show went on. However I would also say that the losing captain last week, Tim Abbott was very impressive too, as was Ben Slingo last week, although he wasn't the captain.