Former Cumbrian schoolboy in University Challenge final


A Cumbrian student is through to the final of University Challenge.

Former Cockermouth School pupil Ben Chaudhri and his team from Wolfson College, Cambridge beat the university's Emmanuel College team in the semi finals, shown on Monday.

The natural sciences student scored points for his team by answering questions on topics including Voyager space probes.

He and his fellow students faced questions from Jeremy Paxman on subjects ranging from early 20th century Nobel laureates and the cellular automaton Game of Life, to hill forts in Britain and the Lord Byron poem Don Juan.

And Ben wasn't the only taste of Cumbria in the quiz show, as the Rheged centre near Penrith and the windows of St Martin's Church in Brampton each featured in questions the team faced.

The Wolfson team beat Emmanual College with 170 points to 140.

The score was not as tight as the team's initial victory on the show in September, when Wolfson beat London’s School of Oriental and African Studies on the final question after holding them to a draw at the bell.

Ben, who grew up in Dovenby and Bridekirk, is in his second year at the college. His parents are both GPs in Cumbria.

He was modest about his role in the team's run of victories.

Ben said: "The whole team is stunned by how far we have got thanks to our phenomenal captain Eric Monkman.

"Luckily​ I got some Cumbrian-themed questions which helped us, like one on Rheged, which I wouldn't have known without local knowledge."

He and the team are eagerly awaiting next week's semi-final to find out whether they will face Edinburgh or Balliol, Oxford in the final. Both are teams they've played before.

Ben said: "We beat Balliol and lost against Edinburgh before in the quarter finals so the final is going to be a grudge match."

His dad, Dr Fayyaz Chaudhri, added that the whole family would eagerly watch the final to see if Ben and his teammates could continue their winning ways.

He said: "It's fantastic and unbelieveable."

The final is due to be aired on BBC Two on April 10.

This week's show is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until April 25.

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