Highbrow quiz show shown on BBC, featuring teams representing the universities of the United Kingdom. The show originally ran on ITV in the 1960s and beyond, presented by the alarmingly coiffured Bamber Gascoigne. It was off air for almost ten years before the BBC decided it was ripe for resurrection in 1994.
The format is identical to the original series, with the notable exception of new host Jeremy Paxman's entirely less conciliatory style of dealing with the contestants. The quiz is made up of starter questions and bonus questions. A question can be on any topic, but in any game you can expect to be asked at least one question about Classical Music, Chemistry, Literature, History and Mythology. The beauty of this quiz, however, is that they're not afraid to ask about winners of the FA Cup or the hit singles of Britney Spears, so it is generally not possible to win simply by fielding a team of inhuman propellerheads.
Starter questions must be answered by individual team members, with no conferring. A contestant can buzz at any time and attempt to answer the question, but if they choose to interrupt Paxman before he finishes reading it, they must get the answer right or face a five point penalty. Answering the question correctly earns the team 10 points, and the opportunity to answer three bonus questions, which are each worth 5 points. The bonus questions usually follow some sort of theme, and picture and music rounds feature.
Definitely one of the more difficult quizzes on the telly, and all the better for it. Jeremy Paxman is more used to grilling government ministers for answers to tough questions, so he shows remarkably little patience with dithering students. He will frequently bark "Come on!" at them, or utterly patronise them if they give a fatuous answer: e.g. "That's not even the right century!" This can be a lot of fun, and Anne Robinson has adopted this style for her quiz show The Weakest Link, albeit with a much lesser degree of success.