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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
William's university fails quiz challenge
St Andrews University
St Andrews is a previous winner of the contest
A team from St Andrews University has suffered one of the worst ever defeats on the BBC's University Challenge quiz programme.

The group from the Fife institution, where Prince William started his studies last month, managed the worst score so far in the current series.

The team was well beaten by 215 points to just 40 by a group from Cambridge University's Churchill College.

It is thought to have been the second-worst performance in the show's entire history.

Prince William
Prince William has just started at the university

Even host Jeremy Paxman could offer no words of consolation during the programme, shown on BBC Two on Monday night, telling the losing team: "What can I say?

"It's customary to try and say something encouraging but I'm afraid that is just the worst score we've had so far."

The students, led by Alan Patterson, who is studying history and philosophy, scored just five points more than the worst-ever group to appear.

That dubious distinction went to four women from New Hall, Cambridge, who scored just 35 points in 1997.

The St Andrews team - which also included physiology student Will Carnwath, history student James Normington and geography student Charlie Shuttleworth - failed to answer a number of questions during the half-hour show.

Good track record

But the four were able to take some consolation from a blunder by the programme's producers - St Andrews was misspelled when an apostrophe was added.

The Scottish university won the contest in 1983 and a university spokeswoman said this year's performance was no reflection of the future prospects of the team members.

She added: "It has been well reported that St Andrews students have been advised to think very carefully before answering questions from members of the media - so we can only assume that the presence of Mr Paxman put them off somewhat.

"Seriously, the university has a good record in this competition - we won it in 1983 and reached the quarter-finals in 1995 - and while we have every sympathy with this year's team, we are confident the result is no reflection on their academic or professional potential."

BBC Scotland's Jane Franchi reports
"It was a thrashing"
See also:

03 Apr 01 | Education
Imperial victory in TV quiz
05 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Paxman slams 'quiz professionals'
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