Monday, 23 February 2009

The Unstoppable Gail Trimble

University Challenge is an acquired taste, along with Newsnight Review and late night Open University programmes it is one of the last refuges of high intellectualism on an increasingly 'dumbed-down' TV.

It is a quiz show, but unlike all the others that dominate the schedules it does not offer oodles of cash, random number guessing games or any other voguish gimmickry. It is simply loads of fiendishly tough questions.

Clean format, but sadly it has also made for somewhat boring TV, that was until the appearance of Gail Trimble. The Latin Scholar has fired up the current series of University challenge as she has led her compatriots from Corpus Christi College, Oxford on a 'intellectual slash and burn' mission through to the finals of the current season.

She has been hailed as the greatest contestant ever on University Challenge leading her team to a 330-95 victory over the University of Durham, a 295-85 romp over the University of Edinburgh, a 350-15 demolition of the University of Exeter, and a satisfying 260-150 victory over St Johns College Cambridge to take Corpus Christi to the final against Manchester University.

The final was a perfect setting for Gail Trimble to lead Corpus Christi on a canter to glory, but Manchester University had other ideas and for the better part of the programme they looked on their way to an unlikely victory. Cometh the hour, cometh the woman, Gail Trimble shook off whatever mental doldrums were afflicting her, realised they facing unexpected defeat and reeled off several well timed answers to snatch victory from defeat. (To be fair the other three from Corpus Christ did make a fair contribution as well).

A thrilling conclusion to a programme that is not known for thrilling endings..Even Jeremy Paxman the normally staid host seem somewhat excited by it all.

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