University Challenge contestant seems to give Paxman the finger

University Challenge brainbox broods, scowls and sighs through academic quiz – and even appears to offer Jeremy Paxman a one-fingered salute (but gets loads of questions right)

  • New Yorker Brandon Blackwell grimaced his way through latest episode of quiz
  • Imperial College brainbox didn’t look happy – but did get lots of questions right 
  • Some viewers loved his smile-free demeanour, while others suggested he appeared ‘arrogant’ – and some even said that he swore at host Jeremy Paxman 

There are no prizes for grinning at Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge, which is just as well because one contestant on the latest episode of the academic quiz appeared to scowl, grimace and sigh his way through – much to the delight of viewers at home. 

Brandon Blackwell, a student from Imperial College, who hails from Queens, New York, even appeared to furtively give host Jeremy Paxman a one-fingered salute, according to several eagle-eyed viewers. 

Many may have been divided on whether they liked Brandon’s smile-free approach to the show but there was no questioning the 185 point score-line that propelled his team into the next round was largely down to him.  

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Say what? Brandon Blackwell, a student from Imperial College, who hails from Queens, New York, looked deeply unimpressed throughout last night’s episode of University Challenge

And some viewers even accused the New Yorker of ‘slipping Paxman a sly finger’

Last night’s episode saw Imperial beat Durham University 185 to 115 and from the off, Brandon looked like he’d rather be anywhere else but facing host Jeremy Paxman in the University Challenge studio. 

Mid-way through the episode, which aired on BBC2 at 8pm, the brainbox student raised his hand to his face in a gesture that some suggested on social media was a furtive message to the famously mean presenter.  

@TorgersenBen wrote on Twitter: ‘Is Brandon trying to give paxo a sly finger?’ 

@SausageToot saw it too, saying: ‘Brandon keeps doing the subtle middle finger thing at Paxman.’  

Are we done yet? While some said the brainbox appeared ‘arrogant’ on the show, others marvelled at his stream of correct answers

While many marvelled at his brain power – he answered a huge raft of questions correctly – they couldn’t quite make peace with his surly demeanour.   

@TrevorMLambert lectured: ‘I’m sure Brandon Brandon is a perfectly nice chap and he is clearly highly intelligent. But I feel he needs to learn a little humility and a sense of humour will take him a long way in life, particularly in the UK.’

Even during the introductions, the Imperial College student looked like he’d rather be anywhere else

@parksidebakers joked: ‘If only Brandon could let us know how much cleverer he is than everyone else. Maybe a gesture or arrogant snarl. Anything.’

Elsewhere, there was admiration for his prowess in the quiz chair.  

@BigSiyabonga cooed: ‘I absolutely love watching Brandon on #UniversityChallenge. The kid is my hero. However, I think it is worth pointing out that #Imperial is a very good TEAM. They all contribute meaningfully and at critical times in the game. That is why I think they will win the whole thing.’

 University Challenge airs on BBC2 on Mondays at 8pm 

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