Are we going to meet Jeremy Paxman?
The 2017 Keele University Team, of which I’m the proud captain, went down to Birmingham University last week for the next stage in the process
Interestingly, even though the show is a BBC staple, it’s produced by ITV, so our meeting was with them at the University Guild of Students. Prior to going down, we’d selected our team through a rigorous (!) process, and had submitted a timed test of 30 questions to ITV. I assume we did well enough on that test to be invited to the next stage
On arrival we were asked to confirm our availability to attend recording on three weekends in February, March and May. It seems that the whole programme is taped over three long weekends every year. Before we could get too excitied it was explained to us that only 28 out of the 140+ universities that had applied (and an unknown number of which had survived the first cut) would actually make it to the recording sessions
The 28 would be selected through another test and a ‘personality’ interview
First we had the test. 40 questions were read out by a voice (no, not Jeremy – it was explained to us that the great man did not stoop as low as this stage in the process!) on a computer. There was very little time between questions, to mimic the show itself. Each team member had an answer sheet on which to write their answers or best guesses. We were actively encouraged to guess “so that we can see your thought processes even if you’re wrong, or just to give us all a good laugh”
The questions were brutal and, to my mind, skewed far too much towards science. One good thing was that the other members of the team did are studying Medicine, Chemistry and Neurosciences! Another was that if only one member of the team got the answer right, the whole team scored a point. I reckon I got around 10 right, which, I suppose, is about the percentage I get right when I watch the show. When comparing notes later, it seems that as a team we got around 15-20 correct
The interview, with the team as a whole, had pretty standard questions such as “why do you want to appear on University Challenge”? The TV people explained that, in the event of a tie on the team scores, the interviews would be used to decide who which team would be selected
The whole thing lasted an hour and we are now waiting to hear whether we’ve made it. My own personal feeling is that we won’t, but, fingers crossed!