After a compelling journey to the final of University Challenge, the York team were unable to record the one remaining victory that would have earned them the title of series champions.
Instead, York were defeated by 295 points to 85 by a high-calibre team from Magdalen College, Oxford.
The York team, comprising Andrew Clemo (Captain), Ben Keane, Chris Caudwell and Simon Donnelly, had not met before they applied to take part.
The York team’s progress to the final was highly impressive. They have been an absolute credit to the University and it was no disgrace to lose to such formidable opponents
Professor Brian Cantor, Vice-Chancellor
The Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Cantor paid tribute to their efforts in becoming the first York team to appear in the final since the programme’s revival in 1995.
“The York team’s progress to the final was highly impressive. They have been an absolute credit to the University and it was no disgrace to lose to such formidable opponents,” he said.
“Andrew Clemo, Chris Caudwell, Ben Keane and Simon Donnelly have performed brilliantly and they should be proud of their achievement. They have set a high standard for their York successors in future years to emulate.”
The University’s entrants are selected by the Students’ Union; President Tim Ngwena commented: “Hundreds of students competed to represent York in this year’s competition and we had a demanding process in place to identify the four strongest contestants. They have been superb ambassadors for York.”
Over 900 episodes of University Challenge were broadcast on ITV from 1962 to 1987, before the show was cancelled. It was revived by the BBC in 1994, with Jeremy Paxman as quizmaster. The notoriously irreverent presenter was apparently sceptical about York reaching the final, and was quick to correct the team’s French pronunciation in the opening match. However, after victories in earlier rounds against opponents including Exeter and Bristol, the team defeated Yorkshire rivals Sheffield convincingly in the semi-final.
The team identified breadth of knowledge as the key to their success, and of course the lucky York duck (property of Ben’s son, George) which accompanied them during filming. Team captain Andrew remained positive despite the disappointment of losing at the last hurdle.
“We all really enjoyed the whole competition. We didn’t expect to get as far as we did but Magdalen College were an excellent team. We wish the York team the best of luck for next year,” he said.
Students who have been inspired by the team’s performance, and are keen to represent the University in 2012/13, should look out for trials in November. The 2011/12 York team has already been appointed.