(I did intend to include photographs but they were all destroyed in the Kodak Laboratories)
The recording was scheduled for 1630, Saturday 27. June 1998
at the Granada studios in Manchester.
Preparation proved to be quite profitable. We twice won the 100 pound grand prize in the
Student Union Quiz, as well a few lesser prizes in the pubs of Portsmouth (usually Scott's Bar)
Arrival in Manchester
We stayed in Manchester on the Friday and Saturday, at the Britannia Hotel, nr. Piccadilly.
The Friday night was the occasion of England's World Cup match against Colombia. While the rest of
the team watched the game on the hotel's giant screen, I went for a walk around the city center - not
too hard to keep up with the progress of the football as I strolled around.
Unfortunately all my photos of Manchester were destroyed in the Kodak Labs,
but Manchester is one of the few British cities to possess a tramway
system, and still bears
the scars of an IRA bomb on the Arndale Center.
We can't spend too much time complaining about the hotel given that we had free
accommodation, but there weren't too many good words about it. We were
all given rooms without windows and there was a general suspicion that these were the rooms that
were reserved for people who weren't paying for themselves. I had a skylight, adjacent to which was
an outlet from some air extraction system - I had to keep the skylight
shut and even then suffer the continual humming. Ian had to swop his
room for the second night because he had been kept awake by a discotheque, good
going considering we were on the sixth floor ! Furthermore, no-one could receive all
channels on their TV, but the channels we could receive were different for each person.
We arrived at Granada studios around midday and were directed to the refectory, where
we also met all the staff involved with program. After that it was effectively a short visit to make-up, a bit of
a chat involving procedure and then on with the program (We had to sit
thru a recording of a Durham-Oxbridge game first, which was the first
occasion on which we saw Jeremy Paxman).
Having been on University Challenge before, there was always going to be the sense of anti-climax.
But we did definitely have more of a day of it on my previous visits. I
remember the canteen was always full of people in costume and we saw
a few famous faces among them, Frank Middlemas I remember well. And we
had time to explore the adjacent film plot (the Sherlock Holmes set
is still there, now as part of the Granada area that visitors can pay
to visit, as is Coronation Street, of course). We came across Julie
Goodyear on our travels etc, etc,. And we met Bamber Gascoigne well
before the recording and went thru a full-length dress rehersal with him.
This time the only "rehearsal" lasted about three minutes and was really
only for the benefit of the sound technicians. Our only fans were Clive, the reserve
and his girlfriend. On my previous appearances, the recordings had always been in the evening, so
we were always able to have our full complement of three dozen or so spectators (It was one of the highlights
of that time that a couple of our spectators were (knowingly) left behind at a motorway
service station because they were too slow in getting back on the bus).
Having been on University Challenge four times with Bamber Gascoigne, and witnessed
two other recordings with him, I can say that all these recordings went straight thru
without stopping, and without the need to re-record anything later on. Which was not the case
this time. The program had been stopped mid-stream during the Durham-Oxbridge game, and the same thing
happened to us. One of these occasions was due to me answering "Kaiser Wilhelm 2" to which
Jeremy Paxman said he would let me have it despite it actually being Wilhelm 1, before realising his mistake
a few seconds later, something that threw him so much that the recording had to stop for
what always seems like an eternity on these occasions. After the
game was over, we had to re-record one of our answers - this required several attempts. One
attempt was thrown out because Jerry had put his glasses in his breast pocket at the end of the game, causing a continuity problem
when the scene was re-recorded. He removed his glasses, but found later in the evening that he had thereby left his glasses behind in the studio.