December 2018

Christmas University Challenge alumni line-up announced

Christmas University Challenge alumni line-up announced

Christmas University Challenge is returning to BBC Two, with the 2018 line-up featuring over 50 prominent alumni from 14 universities and university colleges.

Each team will compete in one of seven first round matches, after which the four teams with the highest winning scores will face each other in two semi-finals. The winners of each of those ties will then face each other for the series crown.

Produced by ITV Studios and filmed at dock10 studios in Salford, the series begins on BBC Two on Monday 24 December, at 8.30pm, with the first of this year's clashes between Brasenose, Oxford and Bristol.


Brasenose, Oxford
Jessie Burton, Captain (novelist - The Miniaturist; The Muse); Andrea Brand (Professor of Molecular Biology, Cambridge; winner of the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award); Tim Harford (economist and journalist - The Financial Times; presenter of BBC Radio 4's More or Less); Kate Bliss (antiques expert – Bargain Hunt; Flog It!; The Antiques Road Trip)

Misha Glenny, Captain (journalist and author - McMafia); Philip Ball (science writer - Critical Mass; How One Thing Leads to Another); Laura Wade (award-winning playwright - Posh; Breathing Corpses); Iain Stewart (professor and presenter of TV's Rise of the Continents)

Danny Wallace, Captain (filmmaker, comedian, writer and presenter); Stuart Roy Clarke (documentary photographer specialising in football - Homes of Football); Torsten Schmiedeknecht (architect; Deputy Head of School of Architecture, University of Liverpool); Sophie Scott (neuroscientist and science communicator; presenter of 2017 Royal Institution Christmas Lecture)

University of East Anglia
Arthur Smith, Captain (comedian and writer); Zeb Soanes (BBC Radio 4 news presenter and children's writer); Vicki Pepperdine (actor; Bafta-nominated writer and co-writer of BBC Four's Getting On); Darren Bett (BBC weather forecaster)

Pembroke, Cambridge
Rick Edwards, Captain (television presenter - Impossible; Tool Academy; Podcast - Science ish); Dan Jones (historian and television presenter - Secrets of Great British Castles; columnist - London Evening Standard); Cath Bishop (rower - World Champion 2003 and Olympic silver medallist 2004 - and diplomat); Emma Johnson (clarinettist - former BBC Young Musician of the Year)

King's London
Anita Anand, Captain (journalist, author and presenter - Any Answers?); Zoe Laughlin (artist, materials expert and science broadcaster - presenter of BBC Four's The Secret Story of Stuff); Angela Saini (award-winning science journalist, broadcaster and author - Greek Nation; Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong); Anne Dudley (Oscar-winning composer and musician - Art of Noise)

St. Catherine's, Oxford
Peter Knowles, Captain (controller of BBC Parliament channel, editor of Today in Parliament); Susie Boyt (novelist and a director at the Hampstead Theatre); Michael Billington (drama critic for The Guardian); Tim Webber (Emmy, Bafta and Oscar-winning visual effects specialist - Gravity)

Peterhouse, Cambridge
Michael Howard, Captain (Conservative peer, former Home Secretary and former leader of the Conservative Party); Dan Mazer (Academy award-nominated screenwriter, director and writer - Ali G; Borat); Mark Horton (archaeologist and presenter - Coast); Michael Axworthy (academic and author, specialising in Middle Eastern Studies; former Head of the Iran section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Paul Jackson, Captain (TV director and producer - The Two Ronnies; The Generation Game; Blankety Blank; Red Dwarf); Jon Kay (BBC TV news presenter and journalist); Deborah Ashby (Director of the School of Public Health, Imperial College, London; from 2019 she will be President of the Royal Statistical Society); Jessica Swale (Olivier award-winning playwright)

Chris Addison, Captain (Emmy award-winning and Perrier-nominated comedian, writer, actor - The Thick of It, Veep ); Nicola Spence (Chief Plant Health Officer at DEFRA); Lizo Mzimba (BBC entertainment correspondent); Nigel Lindsay (British Comedy Award-nominated actor - Shrek The Musical; Four Lions; Victoria)

Paul Mason, Captain (journalist and broadcaster; former Newsnight economics editor); Bryony Page (Olympic medal-winning trampoline gymnast); David Blunkett (Labour peer; former Home Secretary); Liz Watts (Kathleen Ferrier Award-winning operatic soprano)

David Aaronovitch, Captain (Journalist - currently Times columnist, former Guardian and Independent - and writer); Simon Brodkin (comedian and prankster - Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show); David Edgar (writer and playwright and cultural commentator); Matt Allwright (television presenter - Watchdog; Rogue Traders)

Mitch Benn, Captain (comedian - BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show - and writer); JJ Chalmers (TV presenter and Invictus Games athlete); Joanna Cherry (SNP MP, Edinburgh South West); Gavin Francis (GP and award-winning author - Scottish Book of the Year)

Ekow Eshun, Captain (Orwell Prize-winning writer, journalist and broadcaster); Jagjit S. Chadha (economist, former Specialist Advisor to Commons Treasury Committee); Maya Jaggi (critic, writer and literary judge); Simon Garfield (Somerset Maugham Prize-winning author and journalist)

Fixture list

Brasenose, Oxford vs. Bristol
Westminster vs. UEA
Pembroke, Cambridge vs. King’s, London
St. Catherine’s, Oxford vs. Peterhouse, Cambridge
Exeter vs. Birmingham
Sheffield vs. Manchester
Edinburgh vs. LSE
Semi-Final 1
Semi-Final 2