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University Challenge

By Bridget Donaldson

A bit of a childhood dream came true earlier in the year when I was lucky enough to be selected to represent Hertford College and the University of Oxford on the BBC’s University Challenge. With around 350 University teams applying to be on the show each year, we were very fortunate to have been selected by the producers to appear in the final 28.

Several years of trying out for a place on the Newcastle University team became so worth it when I finally secured a place with Hertford. Despite covid and lockdown, it has been a real pleasure (virtually) practicing every week with the team.

After initial selection by college, a rigorous practice schedule took place over Michaelmas whilst we waited patiently to hear if we’d been put through to the next round (an interview with the producers and a notoriously difficult 50 question exam). Luckily, the practicing paid off and we had the chance to prove ourselves to producers in January! Afterwards, the waiting game was on again before we received news in February that we had made it onto the televised show. The whole filming experience was great and before/after the filming dates we were able to stay in a hotel on the river front in Salford. It was a great opportunity to relax before putting our brains to the test.

Whilst filming however, it’s truly amazing how quickly the whole experience is. In the studio, you’re taken to your seats before the intro music plays and BAM, straight into gruelling questions from Jeremy Paxman. You spend 25 minutes racing for the buzzer against the other team before hearing the final gong and that’s it! Over in a flash!

I’ve really loved the process so far, as have my team and it was amazing to take the win against the lovely LBS on Monday night. Glad the leopard print top went down well too! I can promise more animal print coming soon! 🐆


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