TV dons vie for prized PANTS

December 24, 2004

Your starter for four. You've come home after a day spent battling the combined forces of the Quality Assurance Agency and the office photocopier.

You switch on the TV. It's David Starkey on royalty, or Jeremy Paxman making egghead students squirm. Which do you choose?

It's no contest really. Academics in The Times Higher 's end-of-year-gongs, the Poppleton Awards for Notorious Teaching and Scholarship (PANTS), put University Challenge at the top of their list of favourite programmes by or about academics. It garnered twice as many votes as the runner-up, The Big Dig .

It also received six times as many votes as Starkey's Monarchy , which came in last place - whether because academics hate royalty or because they envy the historian his media-don salary.

The recent surge in academic-fronted history programmes on TV has clearly made little impact on the presenters' peers - even Niall Ferguson, currently wowing students at Harvard University, garnered only a third of University Challenge 's votes and was outstripped by archaeology programmes such as Time Team .

The awards also included one for worst job in higher education - where cleaners swept the board.


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