Birkbeck compete in Christmas University Challenge

27 December, 20:30 | BBC2

On Monday 27 December, a team of Birkbeck alumni will represent the College in the festive edition of University Challenge. Tune in to BBC2 at 20:30 to watch them face off against the University of Portsmouth in a first-round match.  

Birkbeck have achieved success in the competition in the past, finishing as runners-up in 1999 and winning the series in 2003. However, this is the first time we have competed in the Christmas competition.

Find out more about the alumni putting their fingers to the buzzers:

Jolyon Maugham QC (Team Captain)

Jolyon Maugham is a barrister and tax law specialist, best known for founding the Good Law Project—a not-for-profit campaign organisation that uses the law to protect the interests of the public, most recently in relation to the COVID response and Brexit. Jolyon attended Birkbeck alongside his legal work, obtaining an MA in Modern Literature in 2002.

Dr Eliane Glaser

Eliane Glaser is a writer, radio producer and research fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Her most recent book, Motherhood: A Manifesto, was published in 2021 and explores the contradictions in modern perceptions of mothers. Eliane completed her PhD in English in 2000.

“I prepared for the show by watching previous episodes. It was too late to start the reading the encyclopaedia!

“Birkbeck is special because of the diversity and life experience of the students. It brings such a range of perspectives into the classroom.”

Simon Ings

Simon Ings is a novelist, critic, writer of non-fiction and former arts editor at the New Scientist. He was judge of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction in 2020 and graduated with an MA Film and Television in 1995.

“’Mugging up’ for a show like this is impossible. It is a contest decided not on what you remember, but on what you forget in the heat of the moment. So I got plenty of sleep and tried to stay calm. I think it almost worked.

“At Birkbeck, what stood out for me was how outward facing the place was and how engaged it was with the life of the city. It felt industrious…”

Shabnam Nasimi

Shabnam Nasimi is writer, activist and policy advisor to the Minister of Afghan Resettlement. She is founder of Conservative Friends of Aghanistan and graduated with an MSc in International Governance and Global Security in 2019.