Why you shouldn't feel so outsmarted by University Challenge contestants


Jeremy Paxman has revealed that University Challenge contestants may not be quite as clever as you think.

The quiz show presenter was speaking about his autobiography at the Henley Literary Festival when he admitted that the super-smart teams of students could be just as stumped by some of the questions as we are watching at home.

In fact, sometimes they get so many starter questions wrong in a row that the section has to be edited out to stop viewers feeling that the BBC has wasted their licence fee, according to Jeremy.

Jeremy Paxman on the set of University Challenge

He told the festival audience: "I'll let you into a secret [about how] University Challenge is recorded.

"If we get a run of questions, it doesn't happen very often, say one show in seven or eight or 10 or something, you might get a run of unanswered starter questions, they all get edited out."

So you needn't feel so bad about being baffled by what's being asked during the BBC Two programme, after all.

Jeremy Paxman on The Graham Norton Show

A BBC spokesperson said: "If minor edits are made they always accurately and fairly represent each team's performance. Viewers should not be in any doubt that University Challenge contestants are the cream of the TV quiz crop."

Turning to the subject of the licence fee, Jeremy continued: "The BBC is too big, it makes mistakes and then it refuses to apologise for them properly."

He called the licence fee an "antique mechanism" and said: "It is not difficult to devise something in the digital age.

"It is clearly not feasible to continue indefinitely with a system of taxes on a particular item of household furniture, which is essentially what it is.

"We don't say there is a tax on washing machines or fridge freezers or something, do we? I don't think it can last."