Back in December 2014 I was walking into my Nuclear Physics lecture, Prof. Paddy Regan was just wiping the whiteboard down from the previous lecture, just before he left he quickly mentioned that a BBC Radio 4 show was going to be hosted at the university and they needed a physics student to take part and to email him if anyone is interested.
Following this I emailed him and he passed on the number of the producer of the show David Tyler, I rang him that evening and he ran through the show and how it will be conducted. David then asked if I’m good at quizzes? To which I replied “My general knowledge is pretty good…”, to which David replied “Ok let’s take a quiz”, I was a bit shocked, “Like right now?” and so David asked me a multitude of general knowledge questions, to my surprise I had answered many of them correctly. I was told that I would receive a reply in a few days’ time after he had quizzed other students. Sure enough I received a call in a few days and was told I would be on the show and suddenly the realisation set in.
Taped on campus at the Ivy Arts Centre on 11 December 2014, and hosted by ‘Mock The Week’ and ‘The Now Show’ writer Steve Punt, the show featured general knowledge and specialist questions, as well as quick-fire buzzer rounds.
The ultimate aim was to see whether academics or students answered the most questions correctly. The academic team comprised of Professor Regan (Physics), Professor Andy Adcroft (Surrey Business School) and Dr Simon Usherwood (Politics). Mahfuj Ali (Physics), Andrew Jones (Business) and Samantha Pearce (Politics) made up the student side.
Professor Regan said, "It was a real honour to be asked to take part in 'The 3rd Degree', hosted by the great Steve Punt at Surrey's Ivy Theatre. The questions came thick and fast and covered areas as diverse as Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, political upheavals from the 1930s and abstract art works… it was a real challenge but also great fun. After the show had finished being recorded, one of the audience members did tell me that they thought that both the academic and student teams gave good accounts of themselves and therefore the University’s hard earned reputation as a leading educational centre remained intact, so I guess we did ok."
Dr Usherwood said, "The whole evening was great fun, both as a quiz and as an insight into the world of radio, and I feel very honoured to have been part of it all. It’s fair to say that all of us – students and ‘dons’ - were tested in our knowledge, and that we were all able to pull something out of the bag. Speaking personally, my apparently extensive knowledge of crisps proved most useful, which I take as a vindication of my broad education."
Who won? The final result was announced when the programme aired in June 2015, listen to the episode below.
BBC Radio 4 programme page
University of Surrey featured article
Graduated with a BSc in Physics at University of Surrey and MSc in Applied Geophysics at the IDEA League.