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WI stands up to Paxman pressure

PUBLISHED: 12:10 30 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:03 03 March 2010

FACED with notoriously tough quizmaster Jeremy Paxman, many people have been known to crack under the pressure.

But not so the ladies of the Suffolk East Federation Women's Institute, who met the challenge head on.

FACED with notoriously tough quizmaster Jeremy Paxman, many people have been known to crack under the pressure.

But not so the ladies of the Suffolk East Federation Women's Institute, who met the challenge head on.

A team of four from the institute, which is based in Orford Street in Ipswich, will appear on the famous television show University Challenge tonight .

The group were plucked from more than 200 applications to be one of just 22 teams to appear on the show, which is currently screening a professionals version.

Team captain Wendy Robinson, who lives in Bungay, said: "A letter came into our offices from University Challenge, who were looking for teams to take part.

"We all thought that we'd like to have a go at it, so we filled in a form, answered some questions and then had to go through an interview where we got asked even more questions.

"When we retired to the pub we all agreed we had no chance of getting on, so we were absolutely flabbergasted when we got picked."

And so, after filming an introduction to the team in Ipswich, the awesome foursome – Wendy, Jenny Wilkinson, Jenny Pearson and Enid Bazire – headed to Manchester to shoot the show in March.

They squared off against an all-male team of Navy Cadets, and had to battle through a bout of pre-show nerves, according to Wendy.

"It was quite an interesting opposition," she said. "It was all males versus all females, and young versus a bit older.

"We were absolutely terrified – we wondered what we had let ourselves in for. I think we were fairly sure we could answer the questions but we were worried about being quick enough on the buzzer, and dreaded getting no points at all."

"Jeremy Paxman was lovely," Wendy added. "We chatted to him and he was very friendly – I think it's fair to say he's got some new fans now.

"Of course, we were trying to answer his questions, whereas most people are trying to avoid them.

"University Challenge is something that all of us have watched, but we never thought we'd get on, being as we are a bit past university age now.

"But, I think it's fair to say, it's very interesting what you can get into when you join the Women's Institute."

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