University Challenge edited when students can’t answer questions

Jeremy Paxman has disclosed that viewers are not shown questions that neither team can answer

Presenter Jeremy Paxman revealed that, in the editing process of the BBC’s University Challenge, some questions both teams are unable to answer are cut out of the final version.

Speaking at the Henley Literary Festival about his autobiography, Jeremy Paxman said, “I’ll let you into a secret [about how] University Challenge is recorded. 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.”

Paxman explained that the episodes were edited in this way because “as a taxpayer you do not want to think your money is being wasted”.

In the same talk the University Challenge quizmaster described the license fee as an “antique mechanism” in a digital age and commented, “The BBC is too big, it makes mistakes and then it refuses to apologise for them properly.”

The Telegraph has reported that no contestants are able to answer a string of questions around two to three times a recording.

Questions contestants have been unable to answer include the weekly Department of Health alcohol guidelines for men (14 units per week) and the hereditary title of one of the great officers of state, who is responsible for royal affairs at the Palace of Westminster (Chamberlain).

A BBC spokesman commented, “Viewers should not be in any doubt that University Challenge contestants are the cream of the TV quiz crop – if minor edits are made they always accurately and fairly represent each team’s performance.”