Tuesday, March 4

Review: University Challenge Final, Stephen Hawking: Master of the Universe, Curb your Enthusiasm

Lucien mettommo has an intellectual night in

They say it is a fine line between genius and insanity. If the final of University Challenge (Thursday, BBC2 8pm) has taught us anything (and it hasn’t), it is that that line has been well and truly blurred. Christ College Oxford emerged victorious over Sheffield in a fairly tight contest. However, when you have a freak of intelligence, such as the captain of the Oxford team, the contest is never really in doubt. Out of the 1200 points they scored throughout the whole series, he must have scored at least a thousand of them. His ability is so remarkable that I could probably be on his team, free riding my way to the final, occasionally butting in with the wrong answer, losing the team five points along the way, safe in the knowledge that good old ’Kaufmann’ will always bail me out. Indeed, in this sense, it could be said that the moral victory was Sheffield’s. At least every member of their team occasionally chipped in with an attempt at a correct answer.

For the random punter directing his attention to the show, you could be forgiven for feeling slightly inadequate. There are only limited occasions when the answer to the particular question will be ‘Disraeli’. However, it is also important to realise that, from the look of all the finalists, they could all be potential serial killers. Indeed, if we look beyond the substance of the show itself, the sickening undertones of a world far darker than our own begin to emerge. This is particularly evident from Paxman’s shameless flirtations with the rather odd captain of the Sheffield team to the strange facial mannerisms of one particular member of the Oxford team. Such mannerisms indicating that the particular person in question was obviously in the process of taking a giant shit in his pants throughout the whole duration of the show. Such darkness reached its nadir when a startled Joan Bakewell was asked by Paxman to provide the winners with their prizes; four semi automatic shot guns and four long black coats… (this didn’t actually happen).

From one programme of intellectual rigour to another. Stephen Hawking: Master of the Universe (Channel 4 9pm) explored the genius of Stephen Hawking. The documentary was enlightening in the sense that I now know that negative particles get sucked into a black hole whilst positive particles remain outside of such (or was it the other way round). However, I am no intellectual giant, and thus much of the substance of the documentary went right over my head. However, what is remarkable is that Stephen Hawking, a person who has suffered with motor neurone disease throughout his whole life, has defied all medical expectations and is still alive at the age of 66. He is still working as a Professor and a Tutor to PHD students. It seems that his lifelong struggle to discover a unified Big Bang Theory has mirrored an incredibly brave struggle against such a debilitating illness. In his own words: “I was unlucky to get motor neurone disease, but I have been lucky in every other aspect of my life.”

Something was required to lighten the mood, and Curb your Enthusiasm (More 4 10:35pm) certainly provided this. Cheryl finally left Larry. She has been long suffering, but, throughout the whole history of the programme, I have never really liked her. Undoubtedly, this is probably of Larry David’s own construction considering his own real life marital difficulties. Again, Larry is right in everything he says or does, but, as per usual, misunderstandings conspire against him. The Show culminates with Larry struggling with a testicle injury, whilst his friends pick Cheryl over him. Also, Marty Funkhauser’s daughter in the show appears to be ‘Blossom’, which is also quite exciting.

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