Manchester wins record fourth University Challenge title

The University of Manchester has equalled the record for University Challenge wins after beating University College London in last night’s final

Manchester’s latest win – its fourth trophy in eight years – puts it level with Magadalen College, Oxford, which won in 1997, 1998, 2004 and 2011.

The Manchester team, which includes an economist, an astrophysicist, a linguist and a mature student studying for a PhD in pain epidemiology, triumphed by scoring 190 points to UCL’s 140.

Ironically, the team had almost failed to make it past the opening round after falling 105 points behind Lincoln College, Oxford, only make a remarkable comeback in the final few minutes.

Manchester pulled ahead of UCL in the early stages of last night’s show, taking a 100-point lead at one stage before the London team rallied towards the end.

The victory follows attention over Manchester’s highly professional approach to the quiz under the guidance of librarian Stephen Pearson, dubbed the “Alex Ferguson of University Challenge”, who handpicks the contestants.

Those selected then take part in a gruelling 10-week training programme, which includes about four or five show-length practice sessions a week.

Team members have told the university’s student paper The Mancunion that the process is enjoyable and meant they were less fazed by the televised rounds of the quiz.

The preparation also helps them to even the odds against Oxbridge colleges, who have their own intra-mural competitions before reaching the show itself, they said.

Their disciplined approach contrasts to the Victoria University of Manchester’s 1975 team, led by David Aaronovitch, now columnist at The Times, which answered every question with either “Marx”, “Trotsky” or “Lenin” in a protest against supposed elitism displayed by the show, which allows Oxbridge colleges to enter individual teams.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Woman taking homeopathic medicine

Alternative treatments in healthcare plan is latest in a series of homeopathy-related controversies

  • Man lying beneath rugby pile-up

Six academics share their experiences before delivering a verdict on the system

  • Zygmunt Bauman with hand over mouth

Eminent sociologist has recycled 90,000 words of material across a dozen books, claims paper

  • Foot about to step on banana peel

Kevin Haggerty and Aaron Doyle offer tips on making postgraduate study even tougher (which students could also use to avoid pitfalls if they prefer)

  • Sorana Vieru, National Union of Students

Sorana Vieru says exams and essays 'privilege' more advantaged students, calls for changes to 'Middle Ages' format