University Challenge (lost episode of British quiz show; 1975)

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76manchester.jpeg

An image of The University of Manchester team that was involved in the protest.

Status: Lost

In a 1975 episode of University Challenge, the team representing the University of Manchester protested against what they believed to be the over-representation of Oxford and Cambridge in the programme, (each Oxbridge college may have its own team, whereas non-collegiate universities only have one. For perspective, the universities have around 70 colleges between them.) and the exclusion of polytechnics and further education institutions from participation.

The team, led by socialist David Aaronovitch, answered every question with the names of various socialist revolutionaries (for example, Leon Trotsky and Karl Marx), and popular figures. (eg. Marilyn Monroe) It is said that this was an attempt to make the programme unbroadcastable. The recording was stopped several times, with the host Bamber Gascoigne urging the team to calm down and answer genuinely. They eventually obliged, going on to score 40 points.

Despite its content, the show was still broadcast. Though, the production company responsible for University Challenge, Granada, is said to possess no copies. This is evident in a documentary concerning the programme, which shows a reconstruction using extras, in a discussion of this episode. Several individuals online have claimed to be these extras, and claim that the original episode is lost, though other sources claim that small portions of the episode may still exist in Granada's archives. It is also possible that amateur recordings exist, particularly audio recordings due to the cost of VCRs at the time. Only a still photo of the Manchester team remains, as part of a newspaper article mocking the team. Manchester was subsequently banned from the programme until 1979.

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