University Challenge catch up

In General

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Southampton University brought 2013 to an end with a bang with another fantastic appearance on University Challenge. On 31 December, our alumni team beat Kings College London with a massive 80 point gap. Here, we’ve been catching up with team captain Bob De Caux and finding out more about his University Challenge experience.

How did you find your third appearance on the show?

Funnily enough, I felt more nervous before this one than any of the others, and that wasn’t helped by getting one of the first questions wrong!  Once we got going though, the whole show seemed to fly by.  We never had chance to catch our breath as we were doing so well on the buzzer, so I didn’t really notice the scores until very near the end.


Did you have any tactics before appearing?

We spoke to the Bangor team backstage before the game, so found out what they were studying.  We thought that we would have a good chance on the science questions, but would need to be very sharp on the buzzer for anything else.  As it turned out, a lot of the questions fell kindly for us, and luckily Bangor were never able to get going.


Would you do the experience again?

Absolutely!  For someone who loves quizzes, getting the opportunity to go on University Challenge was right near the top of my to-do list, and it certainly lived up to expectations.  I’m not sure I’d be saying the same thing if we had made fools of ourselves though!


What advice would you give to students interested in applying?

I would definitely encourage them to have a go, even if they think they are only strong on certain subjects.  The range of potential questions on the show is so wide that the best teams are made up of people who specialise in different areas, rather than people who know everything.


What was your favourite part of taking part in University Challenge?

The best part is definitely realising you know an answer, hitting the buzzer and then hearing your name!  Although at that moment, I would always have a slight panic and nearly forget what I wanted to say.  Once Jeremy says correct, you get a huge sense of relief.  It’s hard to know what to do at that point though, as you are aware that the camera is zoomed in on you – that’s why most people end up looking either smug, faintly terrified, or swigging nervously from their water.


What have you and the team got planned for the future?

Well one of our team (Matt Loxham) has now finished his PhD and moved on into the real world, but I’ve still got one and a half years to go on mine.  It seems a long way off at the moment but will probably disappear much faster than I would like. Richard and David are both around for another couple of years as well, as they were freshers when we filmed.   It would be great to get Southampton back on the show next year and we’ve helped to select the new team, who are going to see the BBC producers at the end of January – wish them luck!

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