“Terrific” Somerville team lose out on Uni Challenge title

The team from Somerville has been pipped at the post in the grand final of TV quiz show University Challenge, ending on 135 points to Trinity College, Cambridge’s 240.

Host Jeremy Paxman said at the end of the show that both sides were “terrific teams”, and author Jeanette Winterson – who presented the trophy to Trinity, Cambridge at the end – echoed this sentiment.

The side performed strongly at some points in the final, and scored a full three out of three on a set of questions on famous quotes about wealth and riches. They only managed one out of three, however, on a series of questions on Greek words.

Trinity, Cambridge maintained a narrow lead for almost the whole episode, surging ahead only at the end. The Somerville team featured students Sam Walker, Zachary Vermeer and Chris Beer, while PPEist Michael Davies was captain.

Prior to the show, they all told an article on the college’s website what their proudest moment on the series was so far. Vermeer said his was the successful identification of a piece of opera from Verdi’s “La Traviata”, while Beer said his was their defeat of Southampton University.

Somerville students and alumni reacted with sympathy on Twitter:

The event was screened in Somerville’s bar, with some of the team members photographed watching the show as it was broadcast:


Among others, Somerville has defeated teams from the University of York and London-based institution SOAS. Trinity, Cambridge reached the final after defeating the University of Manchester, and they also defeated Christ Church, Oxford, in the first round.

The series has seen many interesting twists for the Somerville side, especially for Michael Davies, who was described as “delightful” on Twitter by broadcaster Stephen Fry.

The show came under fire this week, however, after the academic Professor Mary Beard expressed disappointment that there were no women on Somerville’s team. Both teams in tonight’s final were all male.