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Stirling’s celebrated graduates tackle University Challenge

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Jeremy Paxman pictured with the University Challenge Stirling team
Jeremy Paxman pictured with the University Challenge Stirling team

Four alumni flew the flag for the University of Stirling in a special Christmas edition of University Challenge.

Celebrated Stirling graduates Muffy Calder, Paul Lewis, Richard Lochhead and John McLellan took on the might of Oxford’s St Hugh’s College in the popular BBC programme which airs on Friday 27 December.

Psychology graduate Paul Lewis, now a freelance financial journalist and presenter of BBC Moneybox, captained the Stirling team.

He was joined by Computing Science graduate Muffy Calder, a university Professor and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government.

Former Scotsman editor John McLellan, an English and Film & Media graduate and Politics graduate Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, completed the quartet.

“I don’t think it was my finest moment, but my team-mates were excellent,” joked Calder, whose role involves advising the Government on matters such as the future of Information and Communications Technology in schools and cyber security.

“It was a very special experience and I was very honoured to be asked along. To be up against an Oxford institution was never going to be easy and I’m afraid while my general knowledge is pretty good, my knowledge of Greek history and mythology is non-existent.

“There was another edition being recorded before ours and we watched it from the green room. I think I did better answering those questions than our own and it made me feel a bit nervous, but once you’re in the studio it’s much darker and I couldn’t see the audience so that let me focus more.

“Jeremy Paxman was a true professional and very witty; he made us feel comfortable. I’m still beating myself up about questions which of course I knew the answer to, but my mind went blank at the time.

“I am so glad we did it and it was lovely to represent Stirling and meet other graduates who collectively spanned several decades. None of us were at Stirling at the same time so it was interesting to share stories of our experiences – I had a whale of a time at Stirling.”

Stirling is the only Scottish university to compete in the festive edition, which pits teams of prominent graduates from 14 universities against one another. There are seven first-round matches, with the four highest scoring teams progressing to the semi-finals. The Stirling programme airs on Friday 27 December at 7.30pm.

Discover more about the teams competing in Christmas University Challenge.

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