Suffolk student rises to the challenge

IT is the toughest quiz show on television with former contestants including legendary brain box Stephen Fry, author Sebastian Faulks and television personality Clive James.

IT is the toughest quiz show on television with former contestants including legendary brain box Stephen Fry, author Sebastian Faulks and television personality Clive James.

But a former Woodbridge schoolboy has managed to go one better than his celebrity predecessors - after taking home the coveted BBC University Challenge trophy.

Charles Markland, of Cretingham, near Framlingham, beat scores of the nation's brightest sparks to win the famous quiz contest, presented by notoriously fierce broadcaster Jeremy Paxman.

The 22-year-old, who is in the first year of a doctorate in chemistry at Christchurch College, Oxford, was part of a team of four students who stormed through the rounds on Britain's most challenging competition.

The team, which also included Max Kaufman, Alex Bubb and Susanna Darby, beat the University of Sheffield by 50 points in the final, televised last night.

After beating strong contenders, the University of Manchester, in the semi-final, the team knew victory was just around the corner.

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“The scores in the semi-final and the final were identical - 220-170 in our favour,” said Mr Markland.

“But I thought the second run against Nottingham was the hardest.”

It is not the first time the student has shown his intellectual agility at national level.

Mr Markland has previously got to the final of the National Schools' Quiz Challenge while a pupil at Woodbridge School and often takes part in pub quizzes.

The trophy was presented by former Suffolk resident, television presenter Joan Bakewell.

Mr Markland said BBC Two's Newsnight presenter Paxman was much nicer than his reputation gave him credit.

“To contestants he's surprisingly nice. He asks questions about you and says congratulations at the end of a round,” he added.

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