I love British TV and one of my favorite genres is the quiz-themed. For me, it is relaxing, and at the same, ironically, provides a chance for me get hyped shouting answers at the telly– cathartic when you’re in a country where you have no friends, family or work colleagues to talk to just any time. My favorites (in order) are: University Challenge (BBC), Mastermind (BBC), The Chase (ITV) and Eggheads (BBC).
I began to follow a full season of University Challenge (meaning, start to finish) last year. When I was in the US, I would catch it on delayed run on YouTube. I have also introduced a few American friends to it, and they love it. Which makes me wonder why Quiz shows are not as big or common on American TV, but anyway. I digress. University Challenge got a spike (not just in viewership but in social media buzz) largely because of Canadian Eric Monkman and his team mates Justin Yang (also Canadian), Ben Chaudri (who has made “Nominate Chaudri” a popular byline when you need help with answers) and Paul Cosgrove (he of the bemused smile and closing-bracket sitting position) from Wolfson College, Cambridge. And also the team from Emmanuel College Cambridge led by Bobby Seagull and his baby-faced teammates. Monkman’s tight-browed intensity and booming voice is a stark contrast to Seagull’s smiley enthusiasm, but they seem to share an endearing lack of arrogance or self consciousness. And altho neither team won the Championship — that honor went to Oxford’s Balliol College (led by Joey Goldman) — they came out with their own cult following. The bromance also produced radio stints and a book (which I must admit I have yet to get a copy, but I will).
So far this year, the show is at the quarter finals level. My favorite team is Ulster University — if only because, or maybe precisely because, they are so out-of-the-mold of the teams or winners:
- They are from Northern Ireland (largely under represented in UC)
- Their average age is 50 which makes them often more than twice the average age of their opponents (“You’re never too old!”)
- They are a very good, solid, cohesive and fast team
- They are NOT Oxbridge (to point out the obvious)
- Their spirited, excitable and animated expressions when they get a question right or wrong.
They have that underdog quality that makes you just want to root for them, because they represent the quiet and deadly potential, nay power, of the unexpected. I really hope they win (they lost to St. John’s Cambridge, but still have another shot) or at least go through to the semis. Go Ulster!