Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas University Challenge

I’m enjoying the Christmas University Challenge series playing at the moment across the week at 7:30pm on BBC2. We’ve only seen a couple of editions so far, so it’s a little early to make hard and fast pronouncements on the series, still, for what it’s worth here are my observations.

As with last year, the questions seemed somewhat easier than the regular series. I was even getting some of the Science ones right, by way of an example. As I said in my posts about the 2011 Christmas series, this is totally understandable. The point of the show is not to show up the illustrious alumni who have sportingly agreed to take part in the show. However it does raise a question in my mind.

Last year we saw a couple of former winners playing for a couple of the teams – in fact I think that both of the finalists had a former winner amongst them. So far this year I only have the team members’ own introductions, and their performances to go on, but I don’t think that there was a real quizzer among any of the 4 teams we’ve seen so far. Which is absolutely fine if that’s the same for all of the teams. However . . . well, the fact is that I know that a very, very good quizzer who has won a very prestigious show on television was approached about the possibility of appearing on his university’s team in this series. He hasn’t been on yet, and I don’t know if he will be on – maybe they changed their minds later. The fact is, though, with these questions, and with the kind of opposition we’ve seen so far, he would eat the other teams alive and spit out the bones afterwards. Any really good quizzer would.

This is why I wonder whether we will be seeing anyone else with ‘previous’ playing for any of the other teams as well. I know that this is only a lighthearted yuletide joust , just for the fun of it, but it would be a bit harsh on any team who have come on the show for the fun of it to be walloped by the only team who have a very serious quizzer playing for them. Time will tell.


jim360 said...

I felt that the questions were broadly of a similar standard to the regular UC - perhaps the Science and Maths easier, but all of the Arts questions seemed as tough. Or maybe I'm just seriously uncultured. Anyway tonight's match saw the first combined 400+ score in 27 matches with some seriously sharp teams. Not regular quizzers - as shown by some of the ones they got wrong and the time taken - but seriously impressive.

I watch these Christmas specials in part so I can feel a bit smug but the alumni put me to shame tonight...

In all truth it was a terrific watch. Last year we saw only two or three decent teams and several people who clearly weren't sharp enough any more for a quiz - and those teams of course helped by the proper quizzers. This year I thought we were going to get more of the same. But apparently not. New College's alumnus team looks almost as strong as the students! Just one or two more strong teams like that and it could be a cracker!

Dave Bill said...

Seriously impressed with Lloyd Grossman - very good knowledge. With better support they would be a force to be reckoned with.

Londinius said...

Hi jim

New College were definitely the best team we've seen so far. Having said that, though, I still feel the questions were quite a bit easier than normal. Case in point . I'm sad enough to keep a score of all the questions I answer correctly when playing along at home. In a typical 'normal' UC show I answer between 40 - 45 questions correctly. On last night's, which I thought was a tiny bit harder than the previous two shows, I answered 53.

Hi Dave

I agree about Loyd grossman - he shapes up like a quizzer. In fact he scored a highly impressive 18 on General Knowledge when he did Sleb Mastermind a year or two back , so he's certainly no slouch. As you say there was precious little help from the rest of his team.

Ewan M said...

I'm also 'sad enough' to count my scores on Uni Challenge so you're not alone there! As a relative newcomer to quizzing it's part of an ongoing process of attempting to improve my rather modest quizzing skills. Normally I get 25-40 right per show. In the first 3 celeb shows I've scored 39, 40 and 40. The questions definitely seem a little easier on the celeb version and you have to factor in the fact that there tend to be fewer of them compared to the student shows as, the impressive Grossman apart, the speed of thought and response of the 'old timers' is considerably slower. Good to see some high quality quizzing in show 3 of the series as the first 2 were quite poor

jim360 said...

Well maybe it's a mixture of the focus of the questions being shifted to the more traditional quizzers' fodder, and since I'm not a quizzer I feel that shift makes the questions harder. At some point I might keep a tally of what I get this show compared to the regular one and see if I get the same, but I did feel even so that the difficulty of the questions has been lifted at least as compared to this show last year.

DanielFullard said...


I am enjoying this very much again! Questions being toned well works well for Xmas as it makes it much better for "family" viewing. My other half and parents will rarely watch the normal show but because the questions are a bit more gettable here they will watch it.

Agree about Grossman, good knowledge and also taking it very seriously

joe said...

Diane 'Einstein' Abbott didn't disappoint.