THERE just had to be one final twist to the Gail Trimble story.
News broke online around 10pm last night of a BBC probe into claims about the winners of this week’s University Challenge grand final.
It appears one member of the Corpus Christi Oxford team ceased to be a student during filming of the series.
Sam Kay (far left in pic) had been studying chemistry.
But during the team’s campaign towards ultimate victory, led by captain Gail, he left the college to work as an accountant.
Sam told today’s Observer here that he was a student during the first two rounds before graduating last June.
While at least one member of the University of Manchester team, who finished as losing finalists, reckons that breaks the rules.
Henry Pertinez said: “They must have made a mistake with the application.
“We filled in application forms which said you had to be a student throughout the filming and broadcasting, up to April 2009.
“Granada was very strict. I can’t believe they had a guy working for a company on their team.”
ITV Granada produce University Challenge for BBC2.
And those rules appear pretty clear – at least as taken from the University of Manchester’s dedicated pages for the next series here.
“Members of teams applying for the series must be intending to remain as students at the University of Manchester throughout the period of filming of the series. In other words, students whose course finishes this summer or in September are unfortunately ineligible to be members of the team for the 2009/2010 series.
“However, any student who is still studying (including those who are still to submit a thesis or dissertation) at the time when the final stages of the tournament are filmed (likely to be October or November 2009) will be eligible.”
The problem appears to have arisen because Kay planned to continue as a student at Oxford.
But funding for his PhD fell through en route to the recording of the final in Manchester last November.
Which leaves TV bosses with quite a starter for ten.
The BBC has pressed its buzzer.
But, so far, all it has come up with is a holding statement:
“We understand the allegations made and are taking this issue seriously.
“However, we don’t have time to investigate fully so will do so and report our findings early next week.”
There are now calls for the final to be replayed – while some believe the Oxford team should be disqualified.
Or does the fact that Sam was intending to remain a student last autumn give the BBC a way out?
I’m sure Jeremy Paxman isn’t the only one eager to hear the answer to this one.
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