Awkward moment sees University Challenge contestant correct bungling captain FOUR times


‘It’s just Cannes!’ Awkward moment University Challenge contestant corrects her bungling captain multiple times over answer, leaving viewers suggesting she ‘stage a coup’ – and Jeremy Paxman giggling

  • Newcastle took on the Open University in the latest episode of the BBC2 quiz 
  • While Newcastle University proved victorious with a 195 to 115 first round score, their team faced awkward moment between contestant Lamb and captain Keay
  • Asked to identify the city that hosted the Palme D’Or, Keay answered: ‘Palme D’Or, Cannes D’Or, The Cannes’ while an exasperated Lamb offered corrections
  • Eventually Paxman, tickled by a string of ‘almost there’ answers, gave the points 

The latest episode of University Challenge saw fans of the show calling for a captaincy ‘coup’ after a contestant’s answer was mangled by her team leader.

The cringe-worthy exchange came during Monday night’s episode of host Jeremy Paxman’s farewell season of the academic quiz, in which Newcastle took on the Open University in the first round. 

When Paxman asked the Newcastle team to identify which film festival Julia Ducournau had won an award for Titane – showing a photo of the French screenwriter – Lamb, who’s reading for a master’s in film theory and practice, was instantly confident in her answer of ‘Cannes’.

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Newcastle took on the Open University in the latest episode of the BBC2 quiz...but as the northern university team hurtled towards victory, captain Sam Keay almost lost a picture round question after confusion reigned

Newcastle took on the Open University in the latest episode of the BBC2 quiz…but as the northern university team hurtled towards victory, captain Sam Keay almost lost a picture round question after confusion reigned

The awkward moment came after a confident Lamb, studying for a master's in film, had to correct her captain Keay several times after he delivered her correct answer incorrectly

The awkward moment came after a confident Lamb, studying for a master’s in film, had to correct her captain Keay several times after he delivered her correct answer incorrectly

Paxman had asked the Newcastle team to identify which film festival Julia Ducournau, pictured, had won an award for Titane - showing a photo of the French screenwriter with the Palme D'Or at Canners

Paxman had asked the Newcastle team to identify which film festival Julia Ducournau, pictured, had won an award for Titane – showing a photo of the French screenwriter with the Palme D’Or at Canners

Got there in the end! Keay eventually gets the message after Lamb becomes firmer in her correction

Got there in the end! Keay eventually gets the message after Lamb becomes firmer in her correction

However, it wasn’t to prove that simple. 

Her loud whisper to captain Sam Keay, who had the job of delivering the answer to Paxman, appeared lost in translation.

Keay, a student of Japanese and linguistics muttered ‘Palme D’Or’, instead of ‘Cannes’ before being corrected for the first time by Lamb. 

But confusion still reigned and he then uttered a hybrid answer – ‘Cannes D’Or’ – as Lamb, from Morpeth in Northumberland, began to stifle a laugh and try again, fearing the points were about to slip away.  

This time, much to viewers’ delight, she barked more assertively, saying: ‘Cannes, just Cannes!’ 

Now clearly embarrassed, Keay finally got the ball over the line, leaving Paxman tittering behind his desk – before he swiftly moved on in trademark style. 

It was revealed last month that Paxman is stepping down as the host of University Challenge after 28 years, ending his reign as the longest-serving current quizmaster on UK TV.

Paxman delivered one of his famous withering looks - and stifled a giggle - after Keay's blustering series of answers...but still awarded the points

Paxman delivered one of his famous withering looks – and stifled a giggle – after Keay’s blustering series of answers…but still awarded the points

Sam Keay will now take his team through to the second round of the competition

Sam Keay will now take his team through to the second round of the competition

The 72-year-old, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last year, has presented the show since it was revived by the BBC in 1994.

He will film his last episode this autumn and his final series will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer from Monday August 29 through to summer 2023. A new presenter will be announced later this week.

The journalist and broadcaster said: ‘I’ve had a blast hosting this wonderful series for nearly 29 years.

Mr Paxman in 2009 with a team from Corpus Christi, Oxford, including (from left), Sam Kay, Lauren Schwartzman, Gail Trimble and James Marsden

Mr Paxman in 2009 with a team from Corpus Christi, Oxford, including (from left), Sam Kay, Lauren Schwartzman, Gail Trimble and James Marsden

‘I’ve been lucky enough to work with an amazing team and to meet some of the swottier brains in the country. It gives me hope for the future.’

In June 2014, Mr Paxman left BBC current affairs programme Newsnight after 25 years as its presenter.

He revealed in May last year that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. 

He said his doctor had him tested for the incurable condition after seeing him on University Challenge during lockdown.

Ex Independent editor, and BBC Media Editor, Amol Rajan has been confirmed as his replacement.  

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