The University of Manchester go head-to-head with Bangor University tonight for a place in their fifth University Challenge final in eight years.
Team members David Brice, Adam Barr, Richard Gilbert and Debbie Brown will face Jeremy Paxman – and some of the toughest quiz questions on television – as they seek to defend Manchester’s title, won at the expense of Pembroke College, Cambridge in a topsy-turvy final in 2012.
This year’s quartet narrowly beat Lincoln College, Oxford in the first round before overcoming a second Oxford college, Magdalen, in round two. They then saw off Imperial College, London in the first of their quarter-final matches before suffering a setback to lose to University College, London. However, the team eventually made it through to the semi-finals with a comprehensive victory over St George’s College, London.
“Let’s just say, it’s pretty exciting!” team captain Richard Gilbert told The Mancunion ahead of tonight’s contest. “It’s a real relief that we’ve got to the semis, since no Manchester team has gone out before this stage since 2005.”
“It would have been awful to have been that team, but frankly, after our calamitous first round match, everything has been a bonus.”
Gilbert continued: “Hopefully, our run will do some good towards maintaining the uni’s reputation – some prospective students see University Challenge as something of a gauge, so maybe we’ve inspired some applications!”
As reigning University Challenge champions, the trophy sits proudly on display in a glass cabinet in the University of Manchester library – for the time being, at least. A win this year would see Manchester become only the second institution to win back-to-back championships in the show’s 51-year history.
The semi-final will be shown on BBC Two tonight at 8pm.