Reading will compete in the final of University Challenge for the first time in its history tonight (April 4).

The team, led by Michael Hutchinson, beat the University of Edinburgh by 30 points in the semi-final of the iconic BBC Two quiz show last week.

They will now go head-to-head with Imperial College London, who beat them in one of their quarter-final matches.

“It’s been real fun,” said team member Margaret Ounsley, 63, from Coley, who is studying for a PHD in poor law history.

“The contests themselves have been really exciting. Birmingham and Edinburgh in particular were really strong teams so it’s a bit of a high when you come out the other end.”

Reading Chronicle: Margaret Ounsley, centre left, and her team mates from the University of Reading on University ChallengeMargaret Ounsley, centre left, and her team mates from the University of Reading on University Challenge


Margaret, who has lived in Reading for 46 years, said she has watched University Challenge for years so she enjoyed seeing behind the scenes and meeting one of her heroes, Jeremy Paxman.

“It’s great to have got this far. Imperial are a stunningly good team,” said Margaret, author of Coley Talking, ahead of tonight’s grand finale.

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“After we were defeated by Imperial the first time round, we realised that our buzzing speed wasn’t as quick as it could be so we decided we had to practice and try to be as confident as possible: going in early and taking the risks some of the time.

“When you’re up against a team like imperial you have to play quite an aggressive game really, because they’re not going to let you sit and think about it.”

She said: “We’re definite underdogs, but we’re more than happy to have got where we’ve got.”

Social media was filled with praise for the team’s performance after the nail-biting semi-final aired.

Viewers commented on their consultative style as well as the endless knowledge of Michael Hutchinson and Margaret Ounsley in particular.

Reading’s run began with a first round victory over University of Strathclyde and second round win against University of Dundee.

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Needing two quarter-final wins from three attempts, Reading beat University of Birmingham and St John’s, Cambridge, either side of the Imperial loss, to set up its first ever semi-final against University of Edinburgh.

Professor Parveen Yaqoob, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Reading, said: “We are immensely proud of our team for their stunning run on University Challenge.

“They have made history by reaching the final, but best of all they have done so by demonstrating Reading values of partnership, mutual respect and support, and passion for their subjects.”

The final will be broadcast on BBC Two on Monday April 4 at 8.30pm.

The programme will again be shown on screens in University campus bars and venues as the Reading community celebrates the team’s success.