Paxman gives wrong answer on University Challenge

On this week’s edition of quiz show University Challenge, host Jeremy Paxman corrected contestants with a wrong answer.

Cambridge’s Clare College team faced off against a team from Oxford’s Christ Church.

In a bonus round Clare College members listened to an excerpt of music and were asked to identify its Czech composer. They guessed Smetana, which was incorrect – as was Antonín Dvořák, the answer which host Jeremy Paxman provided.

Music experts then pointed out the excerpt was actually a Gregorian plainchant, not by Dvořák. Many called out BBC over Twitter, including Senior BBC Producer for Singers and Radio 3, Helen Garrison. She tweeted, “Appalled at the ignorance of question on #universitychallenge.”

This blunder came on top a smaller one from earlier in the episode, when Paxman did not accept ‘Eliza Bennet’ as an answer from Christ Church for the missing sister in Pride and Prejudice. He instead accepted ‘Elizabeth Bennet’ from Clare College. Several fans later pointed out that Elizabeth is often referred to as ‘Eliza’ during the novel.

The quiz show runs on BBC Two, and BBC later apologized for the mistake.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “On this week’s programme we played an excerpt from Dvorak’s Requiem. We used several music sources which indicated that the entire piece was under Dvorak’s name. However we were wrong in this instance and the excerpt we played from this requiem was not composed by Dvorak himself.”

“We apologise to both teams and viewers and are grateful to those who pointed this out. Fortunately this error has not changed the outcome of the programme.”

Despite the error, Clare College went on to defeat Christ Church and will compete in the quarter-finals.

“Since the mistake didn’t affect the end result, I would be tempted just to let it go,” said Ewan MacAulay, who was a member of the Christ Church team for the show, and is President of the University Quiz Society. “Teams can challenge answers that they think are incorrect at any point, and Clare College didn’t challenge. We certainly weren’t about to.

“Errors happen in question writing,” said MacAulay. ”There are procedures in place for dealing with errors which affect the course of a match. This did not affect the final outcome negatively for Clare. Best thing to do here is learn from it and move on.”