Four Goldsmiths students have had their team mascot banned by BBC producers during the filming of the quiz show University Challenge.
The students arrived at BBC television studios in Manchester with a white jug kettle, intending to show a silent protest against the police containment policy of “kettling”. However, at the pre-recording sessions last weekend, producers of the show deemed the choice of mascot inappropriate.
A spokesman for the studios said: “Teams are allowed toy mascots, but it was deemed not appropriate to have the kettle.”
James Haywood, campaigns officer for Goldsmiths College defended the act. “It was a great thing to do, it was a very clever political statement,” he said.
Graham Gaskell, chief executive of the university’s students union, said: “Goldsmiths students being Goldsmiths students, I’m not surprised if they did this. They have been very active during the tuition fees protests and a number were kettled.”
In recent months, many Goldsmiths students and lecturers have been
vocal in their opposition to the government’s hiking up of student fees.Students were involved in an occupation of Deptford Town Hall and the university’s library in December.
University Challenge controversies
Controversy is nothing new to the long-running quiz show, which is hosted
by Jeremy Paxman.
In 1975, a team from the University of Manchester, which included the journalist David Aaronovitch, answered every question with “Che Guevara”, “Marx”, “Trotsky” or “Lenin” in the hope it would make the recording unusable. This was in protest of the rules which allowed Oxford and Cambridge colleges to enter singly, giving them a greater proportion of representation in the shows.
In 2008, James Archer, a Cambridge University student, was questioned by police after he sported a military jacket during the show. This sparked several complaints from viewers fearing he was imitating an RAF officer, which is an offence.
A few months later, the programme found itself embroiled in controversy
again when the BBC were forced to strip Corpus Christie College, Oxford,
of their 2009 title when it emerged team member Sam Kay was no longer a
The title, which was later given to runners-up Manchester University, led
the BBC and Granada, the programme’s production company, to rethink University Challenge rules.
In a subsequent announcement made in June 2009 they said they would
tighten its rules for upcoming series.
A Granada spokesperson said at the time: “We have critically assessed the
rules of University Challenge and we have expanded on the principles that
have underpinned previous series of the programme.”