Paxman starts to ask: “Taking a two-by-two matrix with top row 2,1 and bottom row 1,2: which eigenvalue of this matrix . . .”
The Turners turn to each other and burst out laughing . . . what is this gibberish?
Paxman continues: “ . . . corresponds to the eigenvector 1,1?”
Mindel (St George’s, London, reading medicine) turns to Smoker (their captain, from County Kildare, also reading medicine), breaks into a smile and then laughs out loud – he has no idea what the great inquisitor is going on about either. How encouraging.
University Challenge seems to have been on our screens forever. Who could forget the original questionmaster, Bamber Gascoigne – he wasn’t patronising towards students who dared to get an answer wrong (of course it’s easy when you’ve got the answer in front of you, Jeremy).
I have to admit it was many years before I realised that the two teams weren’t sat directly above each other – it never occurred to me that there wasn’t really enough legroom!
We like our quiz programmes in the Turner household.
From the serious and sublime through to the ridiculous and rude, we watch them all. And if time allows, radio also serves up its own selection of classics, ranging from the News Quiz to Brain of Britain.
Of course, I am lumping together true quiz programmes, where contestants’ skill and knowledge are tested to the full, with panel games in which celebrities simply vie with each other to win the most laughs. But we’re not terribly discriminating, after all it’s just entertainment to us – it’s not as though we’re clever or quick-witted enough to keep up with those taking part.
Mastermind is obviously a challenge, but at least we understand the questions and we generally end up with a fairly respectable combined score – after all, you’re guaranteed a few points from the easy nerve-settling questions at the start of the general knowledge rounds.
But the highlight of any week is beating the bright young things to a correct answer on University Challenge – and this week I was on fire . . . five correct answers: Pilgrim’s Progress; Roald Dahl; Yangste Incident; Cinderella and cholera – what a boffin!
Graham Turner, originally from the Isle of Wight, reading the Bury Free Press.