Balliol wins Christmas University Challenge 2022

Tuesday 03 January 2023

The four Balliol alumni taking part in the Christmas version of University Challenge — in which teams of notable former students compete on behalf of their alma maters — won the contest.

The Balliol Christmas University Challenge team: left to right Elizabeth Kiss, Andrew Copson, Martin Edwards, Martin O’Neill with (right) Jeremy Paxman. Photo by Stuart Bebb.
The Balliol Christmas University Challenge team: left to right Elizabeth Kiss, Andrew Copson, Martin Edwards, Martin O’Neill with (right) Jeremy Paxman. Photo by Stuart Bebb.

Having beaten SOAS in the first round and Exeter College, Oxford, in the semi-finals, the Balliol team played Hull University in the final, winning 16570.

Playing for Balliol were:

  • Elizabeth Kiss (1983), Warden of Rhodes House, University of Oxford, and CEO of the Rhodes Trust
  • Andrew Copson (1999), Chief Executive of Humanists UK
  • Martin Edwards (1974), crime writer and President of the Detection Club
  • Martin O’Neill (1993), Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of York

Team captain Martin Edwards (writing before the final was aired) described the experience of taking part in his ‘favourite show’ in the Express, saying ‘It’s one thing to shout out the answers when you’re sitting at home but very different when you’re in front of the cameras.’

The four team members did not meet until the first heat but, according to Andrew Copson, they ‘bonded quickly and made a great team with lots of mutual encouragement that you don’t see on camera’. Martin O’Neill commented on the ‘unexpected honour’ of being on the show on the final day at work for Jeremy Paxman after 28 years as quizmaster.

You can watch the Christmas University Challenge final and the earlier matches on the BBC iPlayer.