University Challenge is a British institution. There is simply no other way to describe it.
Few other TV shows are able to draw audiences, young and old, from right across the demographic spectrum and have them enthralled for weeks on end watching two teams of nerds trying to answer questions few viewers even understand.
While most TV game shows are guilty of dumbing down to excess, University Challenge has remained reassuringly highbrow over its run that has so far lasted for 60 glorious years. It is all the better for it.
However, University Challenge is quintessentially British, which means that it is not a show that has a big audience outside the UK. If you are a fan and find yourself living abroad or travelling for business or pleasure, this can be a problem if you want to watch the latest episode.
But don’t worry. It’s quite straightforward to enjoy University Challenge abroad, and in this guide, we are going to tell you everything you need to know.
Where is University Challenge being shown?
The home of University Challenge is BBC Two, where it has resided for more years than I would care to mention.
With the advent of streaming, it is now also available, both live and on-demand, on the BBC iPlayer too.
But this is only available for UK viewers. If you try and log in to watch University Challenge on the BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, you will find that it is blocked. This is where you need a bit of help.
How do I watch University Challenge where I am?
If you are living or travelling outside the UK and want to tune in for the latest episode of University Challenge, you will need a Virtual Private Network or VPN app to do it.
A VPN is best known as an online security and privacy tool that comes highly recommended by IT security professionals. But a quirk of how VPNs work also make them ideal for unblocking geo-restricted content like the BBC iPlayer too.
Essentially, a VPN redirects all of your internet traffic through a secure external server. The websites and apps you visit think your data originates from this server to help you maintain privacy.
But the top VPNs all offer server networks located around the world which means that you can make websites think you are in a different country.
By connecting to a UK server, you can therefore make the BBC iPlayer think you are located in the UK, even when you are overseas. It will therefore allow you to watch University Challenge and any other shows you like, no matter where in the world you are.
Where to get a VPN?
A quick online search will reveal that there are thousands of VPNs available. However, not all are good at streaming BBC iPlayer content overseas.
The best VPN for the job is, without a doubt, ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN has super-fast connection speeds, which are ideal for online streaming. It also has a multitude of UK-based servers to choose from, a wide range of user-friendly apps for all your streaming devices, and an impressive 30-day money-back guarantee.
Both are capable of unblocking BBC iPlayer, both also come with a 30-day money-back guarantee too and the choice is yours.
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How to stream University Challenge outside the UK
Once you have chosen the best VPN for your needs, setting things up to watch University Challenge live or on-demand on the BBC iPlayer is simple.
To help, we have put together this simple step-by-step guide using our number one recommended VPN, ExpressVPN, as an example:
Visit the ExpressVPN website and sign up. We recommend their 12-month deal, which lets you save 49% and gives you an extra three months for free.
Download the ExpressVPN app onto your device. Always do this from either the ExpressVPN website or your device’s official app store.
Open the ExpressVPN app and log in using the ExpressVPN account details you were given in step 1.
Connect ExpressVPN to a UK-based server.
To do this, just press Selected Location and then choose the United Kingdom. Lastly, hit the Connect button and wait a few seconds while ExpressVPN establishes a connection.
Lastly, open the BBC iPlayer app or website and log into your account. They are free and easy to set up if you don’t already have one. Then you can enjoy every episode of University Challenge live or on demand.
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What is University Challenge all about?
University Challenge has been students from different institutions against each other for sixty years and counting.
The format is pretty simple. Each University is represented by a team of four students. They can be studying any subject and include mature students and post-graduates as well as regular undergraduates.
Two teams compete over a thirty-minute episode. The host asks a starter question, which team members can buzz in to answer. If they get the question right, they earn their team ten points. But if they get it wrong, they lose five points, and the other team gets a chance to answer instead.
When a team answers a starter question correctly, they then get three bonus questions or a particular topic, usually unrelated to the starter question. These questions are worth five points each.
During a match, there will usually be two picture rounds and a music round in the bonus questions stage, but this can arise at any point.
The winner is the team with the most points when the buzzer goes at the end of the game.
University Challenge used to be a straight knockout competition, but it now has a more convoluted format where teams get multiple chances to reach the quarter-finals before it reverts to a straight knockout competition.
Who stars in University Challenge?
Remarkably, despite being on air for sixty years, University Challenge is only now moving onto its third ever host.
The legend that is Bamber Gascoigne was the original host, and he stayed from 1962 until 1987.
After a seven-year hiatus, Jeremy Paxman took on the role in 1994, and he only stood down in 2022 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
The new host from 2022 is Amol Rajan, the BBC Media Editor, who has sparked no shortage of controversy during his time in that role.
Rajan was clearly thrilled to get the gig saying, “Being asked to host my favourite TV programme is dream-come-true territory. I have watched University Challenge obsessively for years, addicted to its high standards, glorious title music, and inspirational contestants.”
He is right to note that the real stars of University Challenge are the quirky and charismatic contestants they get on.
Over the years, these have included a number of individuals who have gone on to fame and success including, Stephen Fry (1980), Miriam Margolyes (1963), Sebastien Faulks (1972), Kwasi Kwarteng (1995), and Christopher Hitchens (1968).
University Challenge is always an audience favourite, and with the third-ever host in the hot seat, it promises to be even more exciting than ever. You won’t want to miss a moment, and the good news is that you don’t have to, even when you are abroad if you use a VPN.
ExpressVPN is our pick of the best VPN to watch University Challenge abroad. Just sign up on their website, download the app, log in to your account, connect to a UK-based server, and then use the BBC iPlayer app or website to watch University Challenge from anywhere.
Will one of Magdalen College, Oxford, Manchester University, or Imperial College, London manage to add a fifth title and make themselves the undisputed kings of University Challenge or will some of those institutions nipping at their heels steal the title this time?
There is only one way to find out… Starter for Ten…
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