I appeared on University Challenge in 2002 and can confirm beyond doubt that it's the most harrowingly tough show on TV. The questions are unrivalled in their difficulty, easily surpassing the relative inobscurity of Mastermind general knowledge questions.
Paxman's sarcastic nature is, however, more than a little grating. His presentation comes across as nothing short of sneering and his snorting and derisory laughter at even slightly incorrect answers makes him look, at times, like a poor man's Anne Robinson: something which would no doubt horrify him if he realised.
I cringe every time an Oxford scholar is cut down to size with a cackling laugh and a "nooooooooo" every time they mispronounce a chemical element. There will be some who enjoy this.
All in all, UC is for those who like a challenge, whether you're competing or just watching at home.
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