Skip Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Oriel Team Takes on University Challenge

Made up of a mix of postgraduates and undergraduates, the team’s knowledge covers a broad range of subjects. The team (including a reserve member) consists of:

  • Team captain – Tanmayee Deshprabhu (Engineering Science);
  • Jerric Chong (Physics and Philosophy);
  • Katy Marchant (Ancient and Modern History);
  • Thomas Ford (Executive MBA);
  • Benjamin Thomson (Medicine).

Joining the team on the bench is their mascot, a red Panda named Theo – named in tribute to original team member Theodore Sharkey, who achieved the highest score in the internal try-outs before unfortunately having to abandon his spot on the team.

Oriel has won University Challenge just once before, beating the University of Birmingham in the 1966 competition. Oriel teams were runners-up in 1999 and 2000. Alumni also represented the College in Christmas specials in 1966 and 2015.

The current Oriel team are in the process of working to set up an Oriel College Quiz Society to ‘encourage students from across the college to try out for future Oriel University Challenge teams’. 

Team captain Tanmayee shared her thoughts about the experience of representing Oriel at University Challenge this year:

‘Captaining Oriel’s 2022/23 University Challenge team has been a hugely exciting experience. Like most of my teammates, I have been watching the show for many years, so to be able to take part as contestants felt like a bit of a dream come true!

The Oriel team try-outs were held in Michaelmas term as a one-hour general knowledge quiz, from which the ten top-scoring candidates across both the JCR and MCR were asked to take part in an additional buzzer round to test their ability to answer questions quickly and under pressure. The final team of five, including a reserve member, then applied to take part in the show and were invited to an interview in January, where we sat a written general knowledge test and were asked questions about ourselves and our strong subjects by the production team.

My teammates and I were ecstatic when we got the call to say that we had qualified to be on the show. Before participating in University Challenge, I had never been in a TV studio and the behind-the-scenes aspect of it all added an extra dimension to the nerves of quizzing against an actual team, rather than playing along with my dad at home as I usually did! Fortunately, the production team were amazing, going out of their way to support and guide us.

This will be Oriel’s first appearance on University Challenge since 2016, so it’s great to be able to once again see our College placard up there on the iconic blue set. It was an honour to have participated in the show and I am especially grateful to have gained a wonderful group of friends in the process: my teammates Jerric, Benjamin, Katy and Thomas.’

We hope that Orielenses will tune in to watch on 25th October, and join us in wishing the Oriel team the very best of luck!