– Christmas University Challenge. Asking the questions, Jeremy Paxman. TRAIN HORN TOOTS Hello. 14 teams of distinguished alumni have eased us gently into the New Year by entertaining us with what they know and, occasionally, with what they don’t while defending the honour of the institution that nurtured them. Now only the best two teams remain, and in a little under half an hour, one of them will become series champions and then face the toughest test of all – trying not to look smug as they shake hands with the losers. There is no cash prize, there is no foreign holiday – in fact, there isn’t even a trophy. Now, the team from the University of Sheffield arrived here by beating Aberdeen University in round one. In round two, they met Manchester University and were trailing until the halfway mark when they pulled themselves into the lead and stayed there giving themselves an impressive combined score of 345. Again, they’re fielding a sports journalist, another journalist who’s also a novelist, a zoologist and broadcaster and an architect. Let’s meet them again. Hello, I’m Sid Lowe, and I completed a degree in History and Spanish at Sheffield and then did my PhD there as well. Hello, I’m Nicci Gerrard, and I did an MA in English Literature in Sheffield in the 1980s. And this their captain. Hello, I’m Adam Hart, I graduated in 2001 with a PhD in Zoology. Hello, I’m Ruth Reed, I qualified as an architect in 1982. APPLAUSE Now, the team from Magdalen College, Oxford beat Exeter University in round one and University College London in round two. Their combined score is 415. No change to their line-up either. They’re fielding a gardening correspondent and classicist, a neuroscientist, a documentary maker and a writer and Conservative PM. Let’s meet them again. I’m Robin Lane Fox, I studied Classics, Ancient History and Philosophy and took a double first in 1969. I’m Heather Berlin, I graduated with a DPhil in Experimental Psychology in 2003. And this is their captain. I’m Louis Theroux and I graduated in Modern History in 1991. Hello, I’m Matt Ridley, I graduated in 1983 with a DPhil in Zoology. APPLAUSE We won’t waste time reciting the rules, so fingers on the buzzers. Here’s your first starter for ten. “Its major theme has been the ways in which white male power, “a cocktail of testosterone and capitalism, “caused damage in the office and homes in the past, “and by inference, also does so in the present.” Which US television series is Mark Lawson describing? Its finally episode was… – Jerry Springer.
– No, I’m afraid you lose five points. Its final episode was broadcast in 2015. – HE SIGHS
– Sorry. Um… – Mad Men.
– Mad Men was correct, yes. APPLAUSE You must, next time you buzz in, answer straight away. The first set of bonuses go to you, then, Magdalen. They’re on the events of January 1. In each case, name the year in the 1970s in which the following took place. Firstly, in the UK, the reduction of the age of majority from 21 to 18 took effect on January 1 of which year? – 1960 something?
– It’s in the ’70s.
– ’70s. – ’71, ’75, something like that.
– ’70? – Don’t know.
– I would go seventy…one or two. – ’72.
– No, it was 1970. New Year’s Day became a bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from January 1 of which year? ’75, do you think, because of the Labour government? No, that was May Day. I don’t think it was earlier than that. – ’77, it might be.
– It might be. I don’t know, sorry. It’s between five and seven, I think. – ’75.
– No, it was 1974. And finally, Britain’s membership of the EEC took effect on January 1 of which year? – ’73.
– ’73. – ’73.
– Correct. Ten points for this. APPLAUSE What common adjective links the titles of novels by Charles Frazier, Nancy Mitford and Stella Gibbons with a pioneering true crime work of 1966 by Truman Capote? – Cold.
– Correct. APPLAUSE Cold Mountain, In Cold Blood and so on. Right, your bonuses are on lines about winter, Magdalen. In which of Shakespeare’s plays does Amiens sing the words, “Blow, blow thou winter wind. “Thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.” Is it As You Like It? Or… I have no idea. – Amiens.
– Amiens? I’ve never heard of him. – Do you know?
– No. – Just guess.
– Try Lear…?
– Amiens? Are you saying try…? – Do you like Lear?
– That’s the name of the character. King Lear. King Lear? No, it’s As You Like It. Oh! You said that. “Midwinter spring is its own season. “Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown. “Suspended in time between pole and tropic.” These words open which poem by TS Eliot, the last of his Four Quartets? Oh… Is it… The last one might be East Coker, is it? Or is it…Dry Salvages? Is Little Gidding one of them? It’s not Little Gidding, I don’t think. Is it? It’s not Burnt Norton. It’s one of either East Coker or Dry Salvages. Shall we try East Coker? Do you like that? – East Coker.
– No, it’s Little Gidding.
– Oh! And finally… “He has his winter too of pale misfeature “Or else he would forego his mortal nature.” These are the last two lines of the sonnet The Human Seasons written in 1818 by which poet? – Shelley?
– Shelley or Byron.
– Shelley or Keats. Shelley, Byron or Keats. – 1818…
– THEY SPEAK OVER EACH OTHER – Keats. I like Keats.
– Either Shelley or… – It’s a bit early for Keats.
– Is it?
– I don’t know. – I would go with Shelley.
– Go. I don’t know. – Your judgment.
– Shelley. No, it’s Keats. Ten points for this. LAUGHTER In 1791 the French Academy of Sciences defined which unit of measurement as one ten-millionth of a quadrant of the meridian through Paris? – Metre.
– Correct. APPLAUSE These bonuses are on an astronomer, Magdalen College. Astronomer Royal from 1835, who gives his name to the disc at the centre of the pattern produced by light diffracted when passing through a small circular aperture? Disc… Astronomer… – It’s not Herschel.
– I don’t know. – Um… Young?
– I don’t know.
– Young, was Young an astronomer? Did you think Herschel? Say whatever you think. – Come on.
– I don’t know.
– I’m afraid to go with Herschel. Herschel. No, it’s Sir George Biddell Airy, as in the Airy disc. And secondly, in 1827 Airy devised a lens to correct what type of defect in his own vision characterised by uneven curvature of the cornea. – Stig…
– Astigmatism. Astigmatism.
– Astigmatism. – Astigmatism.
– Correct. And finally, in the words of a biographer, Airy became posterity’s scapegoat for Britain’s failure to discover which planet in 1845 on the basis of the calculations of John Couch Adams? – Neptune.
– Neptune? – Neptune.
– Neptune is right. APPLAUSE Right, a picture round. For your picture starter you’re going to see a map of part of the Arctic Circle on which a city has been marked. Ten points if you can identify the city. – Murmansk.
– Correct. APPLAUSE Your picture bonuses are three more places within the Arctic Circle. Five points for each you can name. Firstly for five, this marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. – Um…
– Do you know?
– That’s the… Um, um… THEY SPEAK IN HUSHED VOICES – Barents, Barents.
– The Barents. – Barents Sea.
– The Barents Sea is correct. Secondly, this Archipelago which is Norwegian territory. Svalbard or Spitsbergen. Svalbard or Spitsbergen. Yeah. I think Spitsbergen is part of Svalbard, but you got it. Finally, this Canadian island. – Wait, I know Canada.
– Ellesmere Island. – Ellesmere Island?
– OK. Ellesmere Island. Yes. Well done. APPLAUSE Ten points for this starter question – born 1854, which writer was the great nephew by marriage of the novelist Charles Maturin and took from Maturin’s Gothic novel the name of the demon Melmoth to serve as his alias… Trollope, The Way We Live Now. No, I’m afraid not. ..demon Melmoth to serve as his alias as an exile in France? SHE MOUTHS TO HERSELF LAUGHTER – VOICE-OVER:
– Sheffield, Gerrard. Sheffield, Gerrard doesn’t know really what she’s going to say, but… Um… – Come on.
– Erm… LAUGHTER OK, I’m sorry, but if you buzz in, you must say something. – Are you miming it or what?
– I am miming it. – Come on.
– I don’t know. It’s Oscar Wilde. You’re thinking of Melmotte in The Way We Live Now, aren’t you? OK, ten points for this – which King of England was the son of Eleanor of Provence and the husband of Eleanor of Castile? He died near Carlisle in 1307 travelling north intending to reconquer Scotland. Edward I. Correct. APPLAUSE Magdalen, these bonuses are on a British novelist. Made by a group of Oxford undergraduates, the 1925 short film comedy The Scarlet Woman, an ecclesiastical romance, is notable for a screenplay and a rare acting performance by which future novelist? – What did he say?
– 1935. – Evelyn Waugh, do you think? I don’t know.
– Maybe Evelyn Waugh. THEY SPEAK IN HUGHED VOICES – Evelyn Waugh?
– Try it. – Evelyn Waugh.
– Correct. Stephen Fry’s directorial debut, the 2003 film Bright Young Things, is an adaptation of which of Waugh’s novels? – Vile Bodies?
– Probably that.
– Vile Bodies? – Vile Bodies?
– OK, if you know it.
– Oh… Erm… – Vile Bodies, is it, yeah?
– I think it is. – Vile Bodies.
– Correct. Waugh’s experiences in Abyssinia as a reporter for the Daily Mail gave rise to which novel of 1936 in which a countryside columnist is sent to cover a crisis in the fictional Ishmaelia? – Scoop.
– Correct. – Ten points for this.
– APPLAUSE Originating during the Age of Sail, what name is given to the southern part of the Lesser Antilles, including the islands of St Vincent, Martinique and Grenada? Virgin Islands. No. Anyone like to buzz from Magdalen? The Windward Islands. The Windward Islands is correct, yes. APPLAUSE Your bonuses, this time, Magdalen, are on the Color of the Year according to the US design corporation Pantone Firstly, described as a rich and full-bodied red-brown, Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015 shares its name with which fortified wine from Sicily? – Marsala. Marsala.
– Definitely? – Marsala.
– Correct. The Color of the Year in 2008 was a shade of blue named after which flower? It shares its name with the Greek goddess of the rainbow. – Iris.
– Iris. – Iris.
– Yes. And thirdly, which flower followed the word radiant in the name of Pantone’s Color of the year in 2014? The colour is, “a captivating harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones.” – Chartreuse?
– Chartreuse? Chartreuse? It’s a purple. Heather? – It’s a what?
– Is it violet? – Is it, is it a plant?
– Fuchsia, purple…
– Heather? Heather is a flower. – Heather.
– No, it’s an orchid.
– Oh… Right, Sheffield, there’s still plenty of time to get going. Here’s a starter question for ten points. In computing, what four-letter acronym is the opposite of CISC, that is complex instructions set computing? It’s a homophone of the name of a popular board game. – Risk.
– Correct. APPLAUSE You get a set of bonuses on birds this time, Magdalen. Give the common two-word name of the bird in each case. Firstly, a bird of prey of the family Strigidae. Inhabiting northern regions of Europe, Asia and North America, it’s a rare winter visitor to the northernmost regions of the UK and its common name refers to its predominantly white appearance with dark brown bars or spots. Snowy owl. Correct. A scarce breeding species in the UK, Plectrophenax nivalis has what two-word common name? A songbird more usually found in Arctic regions, its nickname is the snowflake. – Snow bunting.
– Correct. And finally, a waterfowl native to North America whose name forms the title of a short novel by Paul Gallico subtitled A Story of Dunkirk? – Snow goose.
– Snow goose. Snow goose is correct. APPLAUSE Right, we’re going to take a music round. For your music starter question, you’ll hear an excerpt from an opera. For ten points, I want you to identify the opera. OPERA MUSIC PLAYS Figaro. No. Anyone like to buzz from Sheffield? Aida? No, it’s from Rigoletto. Right, we’re going to take the music bonuses in a moment or two. Another starter question in the meantime. Co-founded in 2015 by Catherine Mayer and Sandi Toksvig and led by the campaigner Sophie Walker, which political party has announced… The Women’s Party. The Feminist Party. No, you lose five points by the way. ..to participate in British elections from 2016? Women’s Party? No, they’ve just said that and it was wrong. – It’s the Women’s Equality Party.
– Oh. Ten points for this. “Their meetings made December June, there every parting was to die.” Which poet wrote those words in the 1850 work In Memoriam? – Tennyson.
– Correct. APPLAUSE Right, so you get the music bonuses, then, Magdalen. You heard the luxurious Duke partying at his palace at the beginning of Rigoletto for your starter question which no-one got. In the spirit of the season, your music bonuses are from three more scenes of operatic overindulgence. Again, in each case, for the five points, I would like to have the title of the opera, please. Firstly. OPERA MUSIC PLAYS MUSIC DROWNS OUT SPEECH What’s the title…? – What was the theme within the music?
– What language is it? They are all partying. – They’re partying…
– ..in a scene of lavishness. Could it the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute? – That’s not bad.
– HE SPEAKS IN HUSHED VOICE In what language…? This is English. – MUSIC STOPS
– Oh… Anything? I’m going to say Britten. Britten. I’m looking for the name of the opera. – It was from La Boheme.
– Oh… Secondly. OPERA MUSIC PLAYS No… # Washington’s birthday, Washington’s birthday… # – It’s the Jets and, you know…
– Yeah. – West Side Story?
– West Side Story?! – That’s not an opera.
– This is not West Side Story. No, they wouldn’t sing about Washington’s birthday, would they? – It might be.
– Maybe it’s the new one.
– It’s Gershwin, I think. – Oh, it’s a Gershwin.
– But we need the name. – Oh…
– We need the name of the opera. – It’s an opera.
– Opera, oh… West Side Story. No, that’s from Nixon in China, the banquet thrown for the Americans. And finally. OPERA MUSIC PLAYS – Don Giovanni?
– Oh, that would be a good one… – HE RINGS BUZZER
– Wait. No, no…
– Who’s buzzing? No need to buzz – they’re answering the bonuses. – LAUGHTER
– Don Giovanni?
– Yes, I think so. Or possibly not. – Don Giovanni.
– It is from Don Giovanni. Well done. Right, Sheffield, there’s still plenty of time for you to do a lot of buzzing. Ten points at stake for this. In which book of the Old Testament do these words appear? “He giveth snow like wool, “he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes, “he casteth forth his ice like morsels – “who can stand before his cold?” Job. No. Sheffield? – Psalms.
– Correct. – Yes!
– CHEERING AND APPLAUSE – That was a good one.
– OK! – We’re on zero! Come on.
– OK, right… It’s all going to change. Right, your bonuses are on the actress Dame Edith Evans. Firstly, for five points, which Shakespearean role did Edith Evans decline explaining her refusal with the words, “I could never impersonate a woman “who had such a peculiar notion of hospitality”? – Oh, maybe Lady Macbeth.
– I would think so, yeah. Are we going for that? – Lady Macbeth.
– Correct. “Isn’t she a bloodthirsty old harridan? “I could never play her.” This was Evans’s assessment of the character of Volumnia – in which play by Shakespeare?
– Coriolanus. – Coriolanus.
– Correct. “I know those sort of women – “they ring the bell and tell you to put a lump of coal on the fire.” This was Evans’ view of which of Oscar Wilde’s characters? – SHE SPEAKS IN WHISPERS
– Lady Bracknell.
– Lady Bracknell. – Lady Bracknell.
– Correct. APPLAUSE You’re away. Right, ten points for this – located in South West London and often known by a three-letter abbreviation, what institute was founded in 1900 for standardising and verifying the instruments for testing materials and for the determination of physical… NPL, National Physical Laboratory. Correct. APPLAUSE Right, these bonuses are on – the Roman statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero.
– Yes! Firstly, for five points, Cicero came to prominence in 70 BC following his speeches against Gaius Verres who was prosecuted for corruption and extortion – as the governor of which island?
– Sicily. – Sicily.
– Correct. In 63 BC, Cicero exposed – which senator’s plot to overthrow the Roman Republic?
– L Sergius… The person in question was forced to flee and was later killed in battle. L Sergius Catilina. Catilina. Nominate Lane Fox. L Sergius Catilina, known to you as Catilina. That’s correct, yes. LAUGHTER God, you’re patronising! LAUGHTER But you’re right! You’ve reason to be, perhaps. From 44 BC, Cicero delivered a series of orations known as the Philippics attacking which politician who later joined with Octavian in the Second Triumvirate? – Mark Antony.
– Correct. APPLAUSE Time for another picture around. For your picture starter, you’re going to see a photograph of a British royal residence – ten points if you can identify it. – Sandringham.
– Yes! – CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
– Well done, Ruth. That’s where the Queen usually goes around Christmas time. For your picture bonuses, three more current or historic royal winter residences. This time, in each case, I need the city in which each is located. Firstly, for five. I’ve no idea. Any ideas? – Maybe…
– No idea.
– Probably Stockholm. – Just go for it quickly.
– Stockholm. No, that’s the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. Secondly. Looks a bit grand. Italian? – Any ideas, Sid?
– I’d just go for Florence. Florence. No, that’s the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna. And finally. – Looks a bit Scandinavian, doesn’t it?
– That’s the Winter Palace. – Whereabouts?
– St Petersburg.
– Quickly. – St Petersburg.
– It is St Petersburg. That’s the Winter Palace, yes. APPLAUSE Right, ten points for this – to the nearest year, what interval separates the defeat of the Spanish Armada from the start of the Glorious Revolution when King James…? 100 years. Correct, yes. APPLAUSE Magdalen, these bonuses are on buildings in northern England described as needing roles to suit their magnificence. Firstly, Pevsner praised the panache and picturesque quality of a Gothic revival town hall in which borough of Greater Manchester? The same town includes the building where the co-operative movement began in 1844. It might be a corn exchange, but go very slowly. I have no idea. – A town in Greater Manchester.
– Town, yes. – Is it Oldham, or…
– Oldham? – Oldham?
– I don’t know any towns.
– It might be.
– Let’s have it, please. – Oldham.
– No, it’s Rochdale. Pevzner said that the interiors of Wentworth Woodhouse were not easily matched anywhere in England. The house lies near the M1 motorway around five miles north-east of which city? – Erm, Derby, I think.
– Derby? – Derby.
– No, it’s Sheffield. Described by Pevzner as the freest neo-Grecian building in England and one of the finest in the world, St George’s Hall lies close to a major railway terminus in which city? – I have no clue. Do you?
– Leeds? – Anything?
– No. Take our time. It might be York. I don’t know. – Leeds.
– No, it’s Liverpool. There’s about five minutes to go and ten points for this. The first snowfall in Oslo brings a series of gruesome murders in the 2007 novel The Snowman by which crime writer? Nesbo. Jo Nesbo is correct, yes. APPLAUSE Sheffield, these bonuses are on biblical angels. In the Book of Revelation, which angel leads the fight against the dragon, usually identified as Satan? In the Book of Daniel, he is described as a great prince. Oh, I don’t know. I want to say Gabriel. I’m just going to say Gabriel. – Do we know other angels?
– No. – Gabriel.
– No, it’s Michael. According to traditional Christian hierarchy, what term denotes those angels believed to be of the highest rank? In the Book of Isaiah, they’re described as having six wings. – Archangel?
– THEY DISCUSS IN HUSHED VOICES – Archangel.
– No, they’re seraphim. Often depicted as winged children, angels of which order were placed on guard at the east of the Garden of Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve? – Cherubim.
– Correct. Ten points for this. What given name links the saint who succeeded St Peter as Bishop of Rome, the founder of the Yale lock company, the Finnish creator of a widely-used UNIX-based operating system and an American who won Nobel prizes for both peace and…? – Linus.
– Linus is correct, yes. APPLAUSE These bonuses are on 20th century US history, Magdalen. Who was the US President during the Potsdam Conference? – Erm, Truman.
– Yes. – Truman.
– Correct. Who was US President when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon? – Was that JFK?
– No, Nixon.
– OK. – Nixon.
– Correct. And who was US President on the day that Elvis Presley died? – ’77? ’77?
– Oh… – Carter? I was born in ’75.
– Carter, I think. – Carter.
– Carter. – Carter.
– It was Carter, yes. APPLAUSE Ten points for this. From the Greek for tawny, what term denotes a chronic disease of the liver often caused by excessive consumption of… Jaundice. No, I’m afraid you lose five points. ..excessive consumption of alcohol? – Cirrhosis.
– Cirrhosis is right. – APPLAUSE
– 55! I think that’s… Your bonuses, Sheffield, this time are on films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in February 2015. In each case, name the film from the description. Firstly, the first film by a black female director to be nominated in the Best Picture category, Ava DuVernay’s historical drama based on a civil rights march in 1965. Um… Oh, what’s it called? It’s named after a place. Erm, Thelma? No. It’s Thelma, is it? Thelma. I’m sorry. You’ve got the right film but it was Selma, not Thelma. Secondly, a comedy directed by Wes Anderson set in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. – Hotel…
– Something hotel. Yeah, hotel… – The Best Marigold Hotel.
– That’s not that, is it? – What is it?
– THEY SPEAK IN HUSHED VOICES What? Nominate Sid. Hotel Budapest. – No, it’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.
– Ah! Finally, a drama directed by Damien Chazelle about a young drummer at a music conservatory. – Oh! Whiplash. Is it Whiplash?
– Yeah. – Whiplash.
– Whiplash is correct. APPLAUSE Another starter question. “The nation is divided into parties, but the Crown is of no party. “Its apparent separation from business is that which removes it “both from enmities and from desecration.” These are the words of which essayist in the 1867 work The English Constitution? – Bagehot.
– Walter Bagehot is right. APPLAUSE You get a set of bonuses now, Magdalen, on words that end with the letters I-C-E. In each case, identify the word from the definition. The uppermost of the three main components of an entablature in classical architecture. The word is also used for an overhanging ridge of snow at a cliff face. – Cornice? Cornice?
– Cornice? – I-C-E? Yeah.
– Come on, let’s have it. – Cornice.
– Cornice is right. Secondly, a term used in chemistry for a regular configuration of atoms such as might constitute a crystalline substance. – Lattice.
– Correct. And finally, either of the two points in the year – when the sun’s apparent path…
– Solstice. – Solstice.
– Correct. Ten points for this. On New Year’s Day 1914, the world’s first commercial scheduled airline service using fixed-wing aircraft started operating within which US state? GONG SOUNDS And at the gong… CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ..Sheffield University have 60, but Magdalen College, Oxford have 230. Well, bad luck, Sheffield. You didn’t really get a chance to get going cos you were pretty good in some previous matches. – We got more than nought, though.
– You did get more than nought. You got more than a minus score, too! LAUGHTER I thought it might be an embarrassing end at one point. So did we. Thank you very much for joining us. Magdalen, that was a terrific score and a terrific, storming performance. Congratulations to you. Our thanks to all the teams who’ve taken part – all of them old enough to know better, but sporting enough to give it a go. Thank you for watching. Next time we resume the students competition, – but until then, it’s goodbye from Sheffield University. ALL:
– Goodbye. – It’s goodbye from Magdalen College, Oxford. ALL:
– Goodbye. And it’s goodbye from me, goodbye. APPLAUSE