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Fingers on buzzers! Bristol’s quiz team prepares for Paxman

The Bristol University team with Jeremy Paxman (l-r): Vanessa Lynn, Robert Hayman, Andy Saxon and Benjamin Crawshaw. ITV Studios

Press release issued: 8 October 2015

The University of Bristol’s quest to prove its quizzing prowess begins on Monday, when they take on St John’s College, Oxford, in the first round of University Challenge.

The team has already fought off fierce competition from the country's brainiest students to reach this stage, with over 130 student quiz teams auditioning for a coveted place on the show's 51st series.

After a gruelling interview and tough test paper, the Bristol team were named as one of the successful 28 teams who would face the sharp tongue of presenter Jeremy Paxman.

Viewers can see how they fare against St John's College on Monday [12 October], at 8pm on BBC2.

The final five Bristol teammates, chosen from hundreds of Bristol students who applied, are:

  • Andy Saxon (team captain) – 3rd year Evolutionary Biology PhD student
  • Vanessa Lynn – 3rd year English
  • Robert Hayman – 3rd year Chemistry
  • Benjamin Crawshaw – 2nd year Medicine
  • Oliver Whitehead (reserve)

All applicants were put to the test by the University of Bristol’s Students' Union (Bristol SU) in November last year, competing in three rounds of mentally gruelling tests.

The successful team first needed to pass an 'excruciatingly hard' test and an interview with the production team, who then selected the 28 teams who would appear on television.

After intense training, the team headed to the studios in Salford’s Media City where they came face-to-face with Paxman and began their quest to become University Challenge Champions 2016.

Team captain Andy Saxon said: "It was definitely exciting to find out we’d reached the televised stage, but then the nerves really kicked in. We really crammed and did lots of pub quizzes to help us prepare.

"I’ve watched the programme and, as Bristol is my home town, I felt local pride was at stake. Obviously we can't reveal how we get on but we were the last first round match and knew how many points we'd need to get through, even if we lost, so the pressure was on.

"Jeremy Paxman definitely had a ‘game face’ before and during filming but he was actually rather charming afterwards and even offered us some of his fudge. Walking into the studio with a live audience and cameras was a lot to take in, then before you know it you have to really focus on the questions and be quick on the buzzer. It's scary but certainly a wonderful experience."

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