A team of four students from the University of Reading made a triumphant start to the new series of University Challenge last week, beating St John’s College, Cambridge in their first round match.
The team, including a mixture of undergraduate and postgraduate students from Reading, beat the renowned Cambridge college by 180 points to 120 in a match in which the Reading team led from the beginning and held onto their advantage until the famous final gong.
Team captain was engineering doctorate student Peter Burgess, who is studying for an EngD in solar power monitoring at the Reading research centre Technologies for Sustainable Built Environments, who described the ‘surreal’ experience.
“Filming it and playing along at home are so similar, the only difference is you can actually buzz in and answer the questions. It’s amazing how often you will get the answer at the same time as someone else and you hear the thud of about four buzzers being slammed at once. There’s a different sound for each team but honestly, until they say your name you have no idea that you got there first.”
Sir David Bell, vice chancellor of the university, personally congratulated the team, made up of Michael Dunleavy, an undergraduate studying Biomedical Sciences, Christopher White, a History undergraduate, and Luke Tudge, studying for an MSc in Psychology.
The group’s reserve was Helen Johnson, studying for an MA in Applied Linguistics.
As the match was only the second episode in the new series, viewers of the long-running quiz show now have a lengthy wait until Reading’s second round match, the dates for which have not yet been announced.
A Facebook group has been set up so any who want to can join, talk about the show and post their scores. Team captain Peter Burgess said “I hope it will help us put future teams together, as the best practice really is playing along.”
So – as Mr Paxman would say – “for now, it’s goodbye to the team from the University of Reading: (Team: “Goodbye.”) …and it’s goodbye from me. Goodbye.”