The University of Manchester has won this year’s University Challenge competition, beating Pembroke College, Cambridge by 180-135 in tonights dramatic final, watched by an estimated audience of three million.
The team received their trophy from HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at a special presentation ceremony held at Clarence House to mark the 50th anniversary of the show.
The Duchess described herself as the show's "biggest fan" and she spent time chatting with both teams, as did quiz host Jeremy Paxman.
The Manchester team includes 24-year-old Luke Kelly, studying for a PhD in History; 21-year-old Michael McKenna from Lytham St Annes, studying Biochemistry; Paul Joyce, 48, from Chorley, doing a Masters in Social Research Methods and Statistics, and their captain Tristan Burke, studying English Literature.
Winning captain Tristan, 22, said: “It was a great honour to go to Clarence House and we were also given a tour of St James’s Palace and the Chapel Royal. The Duchess seemed to know quite a lot about the programme, and said she had enjoyed watching the final.”
He added: “The response around the campus from our fellow students has been lovely – I even get recognised in the Londis!”
Michael said: “We were very aware of how well Manchester has done in the competition in recent years, but we didn’t allow that to put us under any additional pressure.”
More than 120 universities entered this year's TV contest. The team is coached every year by Stephen Pearson, a University librarian, who has enjoyed considerable success with University Challenge, having captained the team himself in 1996.
Manchester has dominated the competition under Stephen’s tutelage, lifting the trophy in 2006 and 2009, and finishing runners-up in 2007. The last seven Manchester teams to appear on the show have all reached at least the semi final stage.
The class of 2012 celebrated their victory by watching the screening of the final in the University’s local pub, the Ducie Arms, with dozens of their friends and fellow students.
Each year Stephen selects the best candidates to put together a new team. He said: “There is always a lot of enthusiasm every year; we have at least 50 people each year who compete to join the team.”
The team’s remarkable achievement will be recognised with a celebration event at the University in April, hosted by the President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell.