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University Challenge: The Story So Far (2006)

A look at the history of University Challenge (1962), with contributions from famous former contestants. Includes coverage of its origin and development, memorable incidents and the new film Starter for 10 (2006).


Jim White


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Caroline Quentin ... Narrator (voice)
Stephen Fry ... Himself
Ian Hislop Ian Hislop ... Himself
Bamber Gascoigne Bamber Gascoigne ... Himself
Tony Boyd Tony Boyd ... Himself
David Nicholls ... Himself
Miriam Margolyes ... Herself
John Simpson John Simpson ... Himself
Helen Weinreich-Haste Helen Weinreich-Haste ... Herself (as Helen Haste)
Julian Fellowes ... Himself
Sebastian Faulks Sebastian Faulks ... Himself
Jeremy Paxman ... Himself
Magnus Magnusson Magnus Magnusson ... Himself
Mark Gatiss ... Himself
Peter Mullings Peter Mullings ... Himself (as Peter Mullings MBE)


A look at the history of University Challenge (1962), with contributions from famous former contestants. Includes coverage of its origin and development, memorable incidents and the new film Starter for 10 (2006).

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Release Date:

11 November 2006 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Granada Television See more »
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References Starter for 10 (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Heck of a spectator sport
15 January 2018 | by GoingbeggingSee all my reviews

Quizmasters are often sneered-at for their bogus air of omniscience, just because they've got the answers in front of them. But in the case of Bamber Gascoigne, what you saw was what you got. He was gold-standard Oxbridge at its highest and noblest, hosting a hit-show that reached out to millions who may never have read a book, but who knew a good spectator sport when they saw one.

Yet he arrived just as centuries of university culture were being turned on their head. Suddenly it was mass higher education, inevitably a cheapened experience. And among these masses was a startling new species - the girl student on the pill, ready to play havoc with the young male mind. Soon these social changes were being mirrored on the show. On came the (deliberately) irritating cuddly-toy mascots, a clear sign of dumbing-down. Then Miriam Margolyes obliged with the f-word, just ahead of Kenneth Tynan, as she boasts proudly in her old age. Fatuously, the Manchester team sabotaged their own chances in the contest by answering every question with "Karl Marx", "Trotsky" or "Che Guevara". The unreconstructed David Aaronovitch still uses 60's vocabulary about the new poly-universities, representing "our proletarian brothers and sisters in the struggle" and condemning the 'elitism' of allowing each of the Oxbridge colleges to field its own team. (He can't seem to see that if Oxford and Cambridge were allowed only one team each, they would inevitably sweep the board - a much more 'elitist' result.) No wonder Bamber Gascoigne's successor Jeremy Paxman said he wanted to reassure viewers that the taxpayer's money was not being wasted on higher education!

As always, it's fun to see clips of celebrities before they were famous, as Stephen Fry, John Simpson and Ian Hislop, among other early contestants, give us their considered wisdom, forty years on. A small quibble, but I would have been interested to know if the programme's enduringly catchy theme-tune 'College Boy' was written specially for the show.

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