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Sussex students take the Paxman challenge

* 11 November 2003 *

Sussex students take the Paxman challenge

Four students from the University of Sussex press the famous University Challenge buzzers in a show set to be screened on November 17.

The team battles against Wolfson College of University of Cambridge in a half hour blast of intellectual endeavour rising to a dramatic finish. The results remain secret until after the show is aired but team captain Ros Levin, 53, said: "It was a close run thing. Thrilling. Down to the wire."

The Sussex team gained a place in the first round game without a science student in the pack. The University Challenge stereotype science geek was absent from a bright bunch of arts-based Sussex talent. Team captain Ros is reading creative studies. She said: "The researchers asked us if we were OK having no scientists on our team and I told them we had hidden strengths. The opposing team was wholly postgraduate and riddled with scientists. And yes, the final bonus question was astrophysics!"

Ros was aided by Dave Boyne, 44 studying contemporary history, Jon Watson, 29 studying American politics, and Andy Clay, 20 studying geography.

Ros is enthusiastic about the experience, which she admits was overwhelming at times. She said: "We knew there would be a live audience but the idea hadn't really struck home until we walked onto the brightly lit studio floor in front of a couple of hundred clapping people and five or so TV cameras. Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide! The rehearsal questions are not filmed but psychologically they are where the match really starts. We got 50 points and Wolfson got none, not one, before the cameras started rolling."

The youngest member of the team, Andy Clay, added: "I almost feel sorry for the Government ministers who normally face Paxman's probing questions and cutting remarks. Despite the pre-filming nerves the time seemed to go quickly. I suppose the random snippets of trivia floating around in my brain had to come in useful somewhere."

Viewers can follow the team's performance on BBC2 Monday November 17, 8.30pm.

* Notes for editors *

  1.  Photograph of the team in the studio sat ready to play, with Jeremy Paxman stood behind, available on request.
  2. Team captain available for further comment.

Press Office contacts: Alix Macfarlane or Alison Field Tel 01273 678888 or Fax 01273 877456 or

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