A University Challenge team has achieved a historic first… by scoring zero points.
It is believed to be the first time in the BBC quiz show’s 55-year history that a team has failed to answer a single question correctly.
Led by Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality party, Reading University reached the final of the programme’s festive edition – featuring ‘distinguished alumni’ – but were trounced 240-0 by Keble College, Oxford.
Before it started, quizmaster Jeremy Paxman observed drily that the contest was an attempt to ‘gauge the lasting values of higher education’.
The Reading team (bottom) included: ex-journalist Sophie Walker who was joined by anthropologist Anna Machin, Springwatch’s Martin Hughes-Games and broadcaster Pippa Greenwood
Led by comedian Katy Brand, Keble’s team included Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce and former child prodigy Anne-Marie Imafidon.
For Reading, ex-journalist Walker was joined by anthropologist Anna Machin, Springwatch’s Martin Hughes-Games and broadcaster Pippa Greenwood.
At one point, the teams were shown a map marked with the locations of five unnamed capital cities and asked to make a seasonal word with their initials.
Quizmaster Jeremy Paxman observed drily that the contest was an attempt to ‘gauge the lasting values of higher education’
The cities were Cairo, Algiers, Rabat, Ouagadougou and Lisbon, and the answer was ‘carol’. Walker, who once said that she didn’t want politics to be about ‘white men in suits scoring points’, answered: ‘Snow.’
At the end, Paxman said: ‘I think, Reading, you have achieved something hitherto unachieved in this series. You got zero points, a total whitewash. You were unlucky, perhaps, with the questions.’
Walker said: ‘We had a huge amount of fun and laughter along the way – our team really bonded and are making plans to see each other again soon for a drink. Perhaps this time we’ll start with the local pub quiz.’
The lowest previous score is thought to be Sussex University’s ten points in a 1971-72 edition of the show.