A TEAM of brainboxes are swotting up in a bid to appear on TV’s iconic University Challenge.
For just the second time in the University of Sunderland’s history, its University Challenge team made it through to the interview and question stage.
The team of five said the experience was nerve-wracking, and are now waiting to see if they have done enough to clinch one of just 18 available places on the long-running BBC2 show, hosted by Jeremy Paxman. If successful they will be the first Sunderland University team to take part, pitting their wits against teams from the country’s leading institutions.
Carl Taylor, president of the Sunderland Students’ Union, said the initial trial for the team, which was done under exam conditions with questions provided by University Challenge, was open to the university’s 17,000 students and they were thrilled with the response, with about 50 taking part.
The highest scoring students, who made the team, were John Scratcher, 21, a television and radio student from Sunderland; Siarlot Lloyd, 19, a journalism and French student from Halifax; Alex Purser, a law student from Suffolk; and Michelle McCabe, 47, an English and creative writing student from Sunderland. Jack Pearce-Collins, 19, a biomedical student from North Yorkshire will be reserve member.
They then had to sit a second round of quizzes, and scored so highly they were invited to the interview stage at Newcastle for more tests.
Carl said: “It is a huge morale boost for the university and shows the high calibre of students we are now attracting.”
Team captain John – renowned for his general knowledge – said: “I didn’t know anything about it at first. My friends came to get me, saying the trials were on in half an hour and I had to take part. I ended up getting the highest score.”
For mum-of-one Michelle, this is the second time she has made Sunderland’s University Challenge team, but the last one didn’t get to the interview stage.
She said: “I just love doing quizzes. Last year I was on The Chase and about 10 years ago took part in 15-1. I always wanted to be on University Challenge so to go through to the programme would be brilliant.”