Entertainment & Arts

BBC defends University Challenge over Paxman claims

2009 final: The winning team - Corpus Christi, Oxford (l-r) Sam Kay, Lauren Schwartzman, Gail Trimble (capt) , James Marsden with Jeremy Paxman
Image caption University Challenge sees university teams pit their knowledge against each other

The BBC has defended University Challenge after Jeremy Paxman said starter questions are sometimes edited out if students cannot answer them.

The show's host said: "If we get a run of questions, it doesn't happen very often... you might get a run of unanswered starter questions.

"They all get edited out," he told an audience at Henley Literary Festival.

The BBC said: "If minor edits are made they always accurately and fairly represent each team's performance."

Could you answer a couple of recent starters for 10? Take a look at these, which contestants were able to answer, then scroll down to the bottom of the page for the big reveal:

1: Which series of novels began in 1983 with The Colour of Magic?

2: Formed in 1934, which political party won its first parliamentary seat in a by-election of 1945 only to lose it three months later in the general election? (It has had continuous representation in Parliament since 1967 following the election of Winnie Ewing, who later became part president).

3: Finger tricks, lubrication and tensioning are among the techniques used by those who want to increase their speed in completing which puzzle invented in 1974?

"Viewers should not be in any doubt that University Challenge Contestants are the cream of the TV quiz crop," a BBC spokesperson added.

Paxman, who was speaking publicly for the first time about his autobiography, said: "If we get a run of questions, it doesn't happen very often, say one show in seven or eight or 10 or something, you might get a run of unanswered starter questions, they all get edited out," according to the Daily Telegraph.

He added that the episodes were edited because "as a taxpayer you do not want to think your money is being wasted".

The quiz show, which was revived on the BBC in 1994, sees two university teams compete against each other for the chance to win points by going head-to-head on "starter for 10" questions.

Paxman left BBC Two's Newsnight after 25 years at the helm back in 2014 but has continued to present the channel's University Challenge.

The show first began in 1962 when Granada Television took the bold step of introducing an intellectual quiz show, fronted by Bamber Gascgoine.

After its initial unexpected popularity, the programme was axed in 1987 due to low viewing figures, but was resurrected again by the BBC seven years later with Paxman installed as its new presenter.

Starter for 10 answers:

1: Terry Pratchett's Discworld series

2: The Scottish National Party

3: Rubik's cube

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