The Minghella Studios on campus came alive with quiz action as BBC Radio 4 rolled into Reading, hosting a recording of The 3rd Degree, a show that sets a team of three students against three professors, all from the University. Comedian Steve Punt presents the show and asks the questions, maintaining a chirpy commentary full of jokes and witticisms, while doing his best to help the teams locate answers hidden in the depths of their brains.
Round 1 tested the team’s general knowledge with a diverse set of questions ranging from weightlifting and crabs to WD40 and Czechoslovakian revolutions. Several answers were more straightforward than the wording of the question might suggest.
Specialist knowledge was required for rounds 2 (language and linguistics), 4 (law) and 6 (film), with one student and professor answering questions drawn from their field of study. Professor Jane Setter displayed impressive understanding of language and linguistics, treating the audience to a brief lecture on ‘dark L’s’ and the intricacies of the international phonetic alphabet.
Round 3 saw time pressure as the teams listed as many answers in a given category as they could think of in 30 seconds, while round 5 featured the shows signature ‘highbrow/lowbrow round. Described as being a choice between Shakespeare or Love Island, the contestants can pick to answer on traditional cultural topics such as painting and opera, or modern pop culture such as films or social media.
The show concluded with a quickfire round, with teams having to buzz or bell to answer. An enjoyable mix of facts and fun, The 3rd Degree manages to inform and entertain, the student vs professor competition bringing a unique dynamic. Tune in to BBC Radio 4 in the coming months to find out if youth or experience triumphed.