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All hail Gail

February 24, 2009 in Quiz Show

gail-trimbleThere is a theory that resurfaces from time to time that there is no better tool for the promotion of an event or sport than the individual brilliance of a superstar performer. News stories grow up around their rare (maybe even freakish) abilities and, through them, the general public are thus introduced to, or reminded of the existence of, the event.

Some off-the-top-of-my-head examples of this phenomenon would include: Tiger Woods in Golf, Torvill and Dean in Ice Skating and either/both Stephen Roche and Seán Kelly, who turned Cycling into one of Ireland’s most popular sports in the 1980s.

The effect was seen in action again this week as the build-up to the final of this year’s University Challenge seemed to focus entirely on Gail Trimble, captain of the Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Is she the cleverest contestant ever?” wondered Paul Gallagher in The Guardian as, en-route to the final, she had scored 825 of the team’s 1,235 points.  The writer also informed us that one of her opponents likened her style to “intellectual blitzkrieg”.  In the quarter-final, Corpus Christi were so dominant that they only allowed the University of Exeter 15 points – a new low-score record for the current series under Jeremy Paxman.

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