The curse of the challenge

­I found a news article following on from last week’s blog post on how so many of the University Challenge winners go on to failure. It was a rather down heartening read and one I know had been written to exaggerate how past winners have gone downhill since winning the show.  It nevertheless still made an interesting read and so I thought I’d share the highlights of it with you here.

A member of the original 1962 winning team from Leicester, Madalane Hall, went on to teach English at a grammar school before working for the Gas Council. “If I’d known the way that life was going to turn out, I think I would have felt rather affronted”.

How about Pamela Groves from the 1968 winning team from Keele University? “I spent two years working really hard looking for a job – and finally fell back on temping,” she said. “The problem with a lot of my life is that I have ended up having to dumb myself down”.

John Burke, who helped the Open University to win the show in 1999 is working as a postman. He says: “I’m certainly capable of a lot more than delivering papers. I’ve got a lot of other capabilities that I’m not really fulfilling”.

One I find particularly surprising and slightly worrying is that of a member of the winning Birkbeck team of 2003, Tony Gillham who told a BBC2 documentary that he drank heavily while competing in the programme. “I was incredibly dehydrated, stank of booze and I was still completely drunk when I got in front of the cameras”. An amazing feat considering some people struggle to even walk straight when drunk!

This post is by no means written to put you off taking part. In fact, you could look upon the more successful stories of Stephen Fry, David Mellor, Sebastian Faulks, David Starkey and so many more who have winning the University Challenge as just one of their many accomplishments.

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About maryam

Maryam graduated in the Summer of 2014 and is no longer blogging for this site. Maryam blogged about the final year of her degree in Medical Physiology after returning from an industrial placement year at GlaxoSmithKline.

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