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Ulster students lose University Challenge debut by just five points

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The Ulster University team, which appeared on University Challenge, with show quiz master Jeremy Paxman

The Ulster University team, which appeared on University Challenge, with show quiz master Jeremy Paxman

The Ulster University team, which appeared on University Challenge, with show quiz master Jeremy Paxman

Ulster University came within touching distance of victory last night in their University Challenge debut, finishing just one question behind their Edinburgh opponents.

With an average age of 50, the team of mature students represented all four Ulster University sites in Belfast, Coleraine, Jordanstown and Magee.

Rapidly answering questions on subjects ranging from historical travel maps to Shakespearean tragedies, the Ulster team took an early lead but finished with an agonisingly close score of 160 to Edinburgh's 165.

The famously prickly BBC quiz master Jeremy Paxman was quick to congratulate the team, consisting of captain and pharmacology student Iain Jack from Peterhead in Scotland, literature student Cathal McDaid from Co Donegal, Fine Art student Catherine Ritchie from Co Armagh and student of education Matthew Milliken from Co Down.

"Well, if we'd had another five minutes you might have gone on to answer the bonuses correctly and take the lead again," said Paxman.

"But 160 I would guess is one of the highest losing scores and you'll probably come back, I would have thought, for one of the playoffs."

Amid the rapid fire pace of the opening round encounter, Ulster's Matthew Milliken briefly managed to lower Paxman's guard.

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Having correctly identified the famously bald actor Yul Brynner in the picture round, Milliken drew attention to his own similar look by brushing his head.

"No-one's saying anything," Paxman quipped, causing a roar of laughter from the audience.

Speaking before appearing, Milliken said he was determined not to be intimidated by the host's confrontational style commenting: "I'm sure he's just a pussycat really."

In September last year, Queen's University also fell in the competition's first round following a sound defeat by Birmingham University.


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