Have you ever watched University Challenge?
I started watching it this series, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
I am in love with the concept so completely that my University Challenge Monday Night Viewing has almost become the highlight of my week. (It’s definitely my TV highlight of the week.)
Essentially, a bunch of very clever people answer questions deliberately designed to sound more complicated than they really are. It brings together some of my favourite things – quizzing, trivia knowledge, a selection of superb names and the opportunity to prove my superior intellectual capacity.
The teams themselves are a delight – I confess to some judgement on my part, as I watch a team of four young men introduce themselves as “Barnaby, Alistair, Tarquin and James” before announcing that they’re studying “Chemistry, Astrophysics, PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) and Mechanical Engineering”, as the only correct response to each of these is “Of course you are.”
They’re also clearly all becoming best friends over the course of the series, and initially stiled interactions are, by this stage of the semi-finals, giving way to genuine pleasure in each other’s accomplishments. I have managed to get distracted on two occasions, writing a narrative for the team’s friendship in my head and missing half a dozen questions.
I realised, watching last night’s episode, that the voiceover man also announces the contestants when they’ve pressed their buzzers. He says the name of their university, and then their surname, leading to the superb title of this piece in last night’s show, where he managed to sound surprised as he declared, “Jesus, Clarke!” (Lucy Clarke, from Jesus College, Oxford was the player in question, but I quite enjoyed pretending for a moment that she’d crept up behind the announcer and made him jump. And FYI, she got the question right.)
I also enjoy playing along myself, and seeing if I can improve my score week-on-week. I have yet to reach the heady heights of the evening I scored 17, but I’m currently enjoying whizzing through the semi-finals with an average score of thirteen.
The scoring system for playing at home is simple:
- One point for a correct answer
- Half a point if you get the answer wrong, but so does the team who’s answering and it’s the same answer (i.e. you both answer Brahms, but it’s really Beethoven)
- Three points if you get the right answer and the team answering get the wrong answer
I’ve linked to the series above – whilst the episodes are still available, why not try to beat my score? I got 14 last night – good luck.
- Dr Jenny Harries. Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England: do you enjoy your pertinent medical facts with a side of gentle but acerbic dismissal of your foolishness? Then Dr Harries is the woman for you. She is straight-talking, does not have time for your crap and is an EXPERT in strategic emergency response. She said calmly this evening, “I realise hearing we’re changing the strategy can be frightening, but this is why…” and proceeded to explain, in words of one syllable to an aggressive male tabloid journalist, why he was, in essence, being a dick. Long story short: I love her.
- National Theatre At Home: livestreamed from 7pm on Thursday evenings, the National Theatre is showing some of its best pieces of theatre for free whilst we’re all quarantined. Up first this week is One Man, Two Guv’nors: having seen this version of the production just before Christmas in an NT Live event, I can highly recommend it. I will be watching again on Thursday.
- Bourbon biscuits. 10/10 would absolutely recommend.