Jeremy Paxman was full of his usual unflattering, cynical mannerisms as Pembroke College Cambridge and Manchester University locked horns in the final of University Challenge last night.
Out of the 41 finals contested on University Challenge, in both the old series and the new one, colleges from either Oxford or Cambridge have won 22. Manchester has only won three.
But Manchester started strongly and despite condescending jibes from Paxman, dismissing one contestant’s answer with a look of revulsion, they soundly beat Pembroke college 180 points to 135.
The final marked the fiftieth anniversary of University Challenge, if you do not include the seven-year break it had from 1987-94. For the first time in the programme’s history they left the studio at the end, and to commemorate the milestone, the Duchess of Cornwall presented Manchester University with the trophy at Clarence House.
Despite the Duchess’s attempts at nostalgia, reminiscing how she used to sit with her father and watch the programme back in its infant stages, it became a rather awkward ceremony.
This was either due to the contestants’ lack of human interaction for the most part of their lives or perhaps it was because Paxman was trying so hard to refrain from ruthlessly interrogating the next Queen of England about her apparent “love for the programme.”
It was a fitting end to the golden anniversary of the popular, highbrow quiz show and although Paxman seems to be tiring slightly it is refreshing to see there are still intellectual quiz shows prevailing in a culture of comedic alternatives.