Jeremy Paxman

Why is University Challenge still so popular?

Famous for its split-screen display, eccentric student contestants, difficult questions and intimidating host, University Challenge has been an almost constant fixture on our screens for more than 50 years.

The programme has clocked up over 1,600 episodes and regularly pulls in audiences of 3 million. Its impressive reign continues into the online era, despite barely changing the format, its staging or the rules of the show.

What are the secrets of its extraordinary success? Is it the questions, the contestants, or the format?

Christmas University Challenge confirms the alumni line-up

The line-up for the 2016 Christmas University Challenge series has now been confirmed, with over 50 prominent alumni taking part.

Teams from 14 universities and university colleges, including Oxford, Bristol and Sussex, will compete for the Series Champion crown that will end the year's competition.

The series will include a host of famous faces such as Paul Ross, Rachael Stirling, Dom Joly and Dermot Murnaghan.

Paxman and Stewart on TV's election coverage

Jeremy Paxman and Alastair Stewart

Alastair Stewart may have hosted British television’s first political leaders’ debate in April 2010 but, more often than not, it was Jeremy Paxman who had the last word at a rumbustious RTS Legends lunch in May.

Steve Hewlett was the ringmaster at this highly entertaining event, which sought to bring an insider’s perspective to the recent general election.

For much of the time, the two TV anchor men agreed to disagree. Paxman was as cynical as Stewart was enthusiastic. Maybe he’d recently attended a positive-thinking course.

Paxman and Stewart agree to disagree over the 2015 election coverage

Jeremy Paxman and Alastair Stewart at RTS legends Lunch in May 2015

The two seasoned broadcasters offered different perspectives on the recent general election to their interviewer, Media Show presenter Steve Hewlett.

"Monumentally dull" was the verdict of the erstwhile Newsnight attack dog on the campaign in which pollsters, pundits and politicians were all convinced would lead to another hung Parliament.

Paxman opined that TV networks had devoted so much attention to opinion polls because it was a "monumentally dull" campaign.