A Northumberland Viscount’s son is among the winning team of this year's University Challenge.
Matthew Ridley, whose father is Matt Ridley, the 5th Viscount Ridley of Blagdon Hall, was part of the Trinity College, Cambridge, team which last night beat Somerville College, Oxford, by 240 points to 135 in an all-male final.
Host Jeremy Paxman put the contestants through their paces in what is widely regarded as one of the hardest quiz programmes in the country.
The 20-year-old economics student, who cut his teeth at pub quizzes in the North East, got the chance to show off his knowledge of Shakespeare, palaeontology and German scientist Gustav Kirchhoff.
Matthew also helped the team to end the dominance of the University of Manchester, which has won the competition for the past two years, during the semi-finals of the high-brow contest.
He told The Journal this week: “My first pub quizzes were at The Brandling in Jesmond. I think I did OK – once or twice I came third and got a free slice of pizza.
“I’d always watch University Challenge at home and desperately try to get the answers in before my dad. My whole family are definitely quite competitive that way.
“I never expected to make the University Challenge team at college however. I’d tried out really just for a bit of fun.”
Author Jeanette Winterson, professor of new writing at Manchester University who was this year’s guest trophy presenter, told the winners: “Well done, that was brilliant. You were very impressive.”
Handing over the award, which looked like manuscript made from a wavy metal sheet, she joked to team captain Ralph Morley: “I’m sorry it looks like something from the Hobbit.”
She added: “Two great teams. If it had been me on either side, I’d have got about 20 points – if that – and none of them on physics.”
Nearly 130 teams entered the series – which is made by ITV Studios – with Paxman asking 3,039 questions prior to the final. The presenter said: “Congratulations to both of the finalists and many thanks to all the teams who took part and demonstrated once again that all this stuff about young people not knowing things is rubbish.”
Matthew went to Newlands School, now Newcastle School for Boys, before taking his GCSEs and A-levels at the Royal Grammar School at Eskdale Terrace.
His father Matt, 56, is a journalist and science writer and his mother Anya Hulbert is Professor of Visual Neuroscience at the University of Newcastle. Matthew’s youngster sister Iris, 16, attended Central High in Newcastle and now studies at Hurtwood House in Surrey.