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18 August 2003 Society 10 Questions

Siddhartha Basu

The quizmaster on his latest programme on BBC, the University Challenge (UC)
Why this transition to UC?
After a successful five-year run of Mastermind, it was felt that UC was the right format to bring in positive change, with strong continuities.

What's the UC's USP?
It appeals to the Highest Common Factor among viewers. It's played for prestige and recognition. There's only a trophy in the end.

How is it different from Mastermind?
Well, UC is decidedly youthful, competitive, expressive and exciting.

How many universities are taking part?
There are 24 teams battling it out.

What was the criterion of their selection?
Of the 350 teams that applied, the top 24 made it to the TV round after a written test.

Why the special rounds with British univs?
These are being telecast as curtain-raisers to the Indian championship in its inaugural series.

What is the standard of quizzing in India?
I think India is one of the most quiz-active countries in the world.

How do Indian students fare as quiz buffs?
The best are as good as anybody in the world.

How would you rate them vis-a-vis their British counterparts?
Watch the programme. For those who've ever wondered how Indian students fare against the British, this is compelling viewing.

Are the special British episodes yet another mode of promoting British education in India?
It's a way of promoting learning exchange, of providing a common forum for an exciting, participative, interactive mindsport.

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AUTHORS: Namrata Joshi
SECTION: Society
SUBSECTION: Interviews10 Questions
OUTLOOK: 18 August, 2003
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