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University Challenge: can Manchester make it three in a row?

21 Aug 2013

The University of Manchester is bidding to achieve an unprecedented third successive University Challenge title as the new series gets underway on Monday.

University Challenge team
University Challenge team

Manchester have been champions four times in the last eight years, in 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2013.

This year's team is captained by Elizabeth Mitchell from Birmingham (studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics), and also includes Jonathan Collings from Manchester (studying Geography), Joe Day from Bideford in Devon (studying Physics with Astrophysics) and Edward Woudhuysen from London (studying History). Elizabeth was first reserve for last year’s successful quartet. 

Manchester’s winning teams have been brilliantly mentored by long-serving coach Stephen Pearson, who has enjoyed considerable success with University Challenge having captained the team himself in 1996. 

The new team was assembled after a tough selection day which included one hundred sample questions put together by Stephen, who works in the University of Manchester Library.

The media has already dubbed Stephen the ‘Alex Ferguson’ of the quiz world, but the modest librarian said: "I don't know about that – but as long as I keep finding it fun, I hope to carry on until retirement, which is not for another 20 years or so."

More than 120 universities enter the show every year, and it remains the UK’s longest-running quiz show. But Manchester’s history in the competition has not been without controversy – in 1975 the Manchester team staged a protest against what they saw as the show’s elitist bias towards Oxbridge, which allows separate colleges to enter. They answered ‘Marx’ or ‘Trotsky’ to everything.

You can see Stephen’s latest team in action when they take on Brasenose College, Oxford at 8pm on BBC2 on Bank Holiday Monday.

Notes for editors

Contact Jon Keighren, Media Relations Manager, The University of Manchester 0161 275 8384