Southampton’s nerves of Steele! University Challenge viewers delight in Oxford’s brainboxes being trounced – with fans smitten by ‘sharp’ PhD student

  • Polish student Magda Steele, studying for a PhD in ecology at Southampton, impressed University Challenge viewers in first round match of BBC2 quiz  
  • Southampton teamwork saw them overcome Oxford Balliol team convincingly by 210 to 115 for a place in the second round
  • Viewers called Steele ‘sharp’ as she took widened gap in the scores close to the end of the match, saying she was ‘banging in the final nails’ 
  • Others admitted they enjoyed the Oxbridge giant killing, with one saying: ‘Childish I know but I do like it when Oxford or Cambridge get beaten’

University Challenge viewers admitted on social media that they savoured watching ‘an elite university’ being dispatched in the first round of the BBC2 academic quiz. 

Oxford Balliol were convincingly beaten by 210 to 115 after Southampton University, comprising all post graduates, raced ahead – with Polish PhD student Madga Steele particularly impressing fans. 

The latest episode of the BBC2 – which sees host Jeremy Paxman presenting his final series after retiring following his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease – saw the Oxford College predicted to take the match…but Southampton’s quartet of brainboxes had other ideas. 

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Polish student Magda Steele, studying for a PhD in ecology at Southampton, impressed University Challenge viewers in first round match of BBC2 quiz

Southampton teamwork saw them overcome Oxford Balliol convincingly by 210 to 115 for a place in the second round – and some on Twitter admitted they enjoyed seeing Oxford get beaten 

On social media, viewers commented on the giant killing, saying they took some relish in seeing an Oxbridge team go out, praising the teamwork of Southampton, who were led by captain Dom Belcher.    

@wendyjpitt61 wrote: ‘Childish I know, but I do like it when Oxford or Cambridge get beaten…well done Southampton.’

@amymcc_auley added: ‘Southampton thrashing Balliol on #UniversityChallenge made my day. Well done Belcher et al, what a lovely team.’

Many remarked on cool as a cucumber Steele as she widened the gap between the scores with a correct answer on a question about native British trees. 

On Twitter, @InlandEmpire777 joked: ‘Steele is stroking a cat and has the nuclear codes’ while @Spartacus20203 wrote: ‘Steele’s sharp tonight’. 

The Southampton team consisted of Dominic Belcher, who’s studying for a PhD in computer science, Magda Steele, studying for a PhD in ecology, Ethan Lyon, studying for a PhD in film studies and Elliot Miles, studying for an integrated masters in marine biology. 

Teamwork makes the dreamwork! Southampton, led by captain Dom Belcher, worked together to pull off the impressive first round win

At the helm…but not for much longer: Jeremy Paxman announced in the summer that he’s stepping down as the host of the show after 28 years, ending his reign as the longest-serving current quizmaster on UK TV

Jeremy Paxman announced in the summer that he’s stepping down as the host of the show after 28 years, ending his reign as the longest-serving current quizmaster on UK TV.

The 72-year-old, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year, has presented the show since it was revived by the BBC in 1994.

He will film his last episode this autumn and his final series will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer from Monday August 29 through to summer 2023. 

The journalist and broadcaster said at the time: ‘I’ve had a blast hosting this wonderful series for nearly 29 years.

‘I’ve been lucky enough to work with an amazing team and to meet some of the swottier brains in the country. It gives me hope for the future.’

In June 2014, Mr Paxman left BBC current affairs programme Newsnight after 25 years as its presenter.

He revealed in May last year that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He said his doctor had him tested for the incurable condition after seeing him on University Challenge during lockdown.

The veteran presenter said he suffered regular falls, including one that left him with ‘black eyes’, and admitted it was ‘very hard to know you’re not going to get better’.

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