Many congratulations and muchos kudos must go out this morning to Footlights College, Oxbridge, who saw off the oiks of Scumbag College Manchester in last night's University Challenge final. And what a final it was! Corpus Christi/Oxbridge's captain Gail Trimble is what you might call (if you favour gross understatement) a bit crash hot at this answering esoteric questions malarkey; that, together with the fact that she's a) a woman and b) quite good-looking means that for once University Challenge has actually been generating loads of column inches in the UK press. Even the BBC ten o'clock news had a report about her last night (which also meant they had to shut up about Jade Goody and the Oscars for two minutes. Which was a bonus).
Anyway, not all the attention the twenty-six-year-old Trimble is getting (particularly among bloggers) has been favourable. The fact that she'd almost single-handedly dragged her team through the competition (amassing 825 of the 1235 points scored by the Corpus Christi team in total on the way to the final, and correctly answering starter questions like they were going out of fashion - she managed 15 in one show) meant that some were labelling her smug and deeply irritating, ostensibly purely for the fact that she gave a nervous little smile every time she buzzed in with yet another correct answer - a smile that they interpreted as being some sort of supercilious sneer at Joe Public from an overeducated, overprivileged toff.
Really, though, she's just an innocuous - albeit phenomenally intelligent - contestant on a quiz show. I'd have thought that, in an age where mediocrity is celebrated everywhere by the media, people would be pleased to have a young person in the limelight who's actually achieved their fifteen minutes of fame by doing something genuinely impressive rather than just flashing their tits on a reality show or being just another shouty, sweary TV chef, or whatever. Clearly not, though.
Anyway, back to the final itself. I'd fully expected team Manchester (who, ironically, seemed far smugger than their Oxford rivals) to prevail as they were a fiercely intelligent bunch whose combined knowledge would surely prove more than a match for poor old Trimble on her own. And so it proved, early on, with Manchester racing into (if memory serves) a 70-0 lead. All this despite their own star player, the bearded Pertinez (who, incidentally, was a dead ringer for one of the contestants in the stare-out championships on Big Train), having an unusually quite night - I don't think he buzzed in once during the entire final.
The big match nerves had clearly got to Trimble too - she was incredibly subdued for the first half of the contest, and her team would surely have been trounced had it not been for her teammates actually dragging her through, for once. They were magnificent! Especially the speccy youth on the far left (of the panel, rather than politically) who I'd never really noticed in any of the previous rounds, but who, from nowhere, suddenly started answering the most convoluted of mathematical conundrums left, right and centre. This seemed to jolt the rest of his team to life and finally Trimble herself woke up and in the final ten minutes or so reverted to her usual whirling dervish ways, and Corpus Christi ended up winning by 275 points to 190. It had been touch-and-go right up until the last minute or two, though, which all made for an absolutely riveting final. Fair play to the lot of them!
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