BBC cancels University Challenge Christmas special

The BBC has cancelled an episode of this year’s traditional Christmas special of University Challenge.


The planned festive episode was to feature prominent graduates participating to represent their alma maters.

Originally due to air this month (December), it has been pulled after complaints from contestants about a lack of support for their disabilities.

Host Amol Rajan on University Challenge

A blind contestant had asked for audio description to understand images, including a pie chart and maps. Another, who is neurodivergent, had requested subtitles.

Following the recording, the contestants asked for the episode not to be aired.

“I was in touch to say I’d prefer not to have the manifestation of my disability broadcast on network TV in the run-up to Christmas,” one told the BBC News.


Why BBC cancelled University Challenge Christmas special

In a statement, a BBC spokesperson said: “We can confirm that an episode in the upcoming series of Alumni University Challenge will not be broadcast because two of the contestants felt their access requirements were not sufficiently met by the production.

“We are working closely with producers to improve cross industry access on our programmes to ensure a consistent approach is implemented.

“We would like to apologise to the individuals and teams concerned, and they have been written to personally by the producers.”

Meanwhile, programme makers Lifted Entertainment commented: “During the pre-filming briefing for this episode, two contestants requested that certain adjustments be made in order for them to be able to fully participate.

“However, following the recording, we were made aware that the adjustments made fell short of their requirements. We have spoken to the individuals involved and offered our sincere apologies.

“Having listened very carefully to their descriptions of their experiences, we agreed with the BBC that the fairest course of action was not to screen this particular edition.”

It’s reported the episode featured teams from two Oxford and Cambridge colleges.


Other episodes in the upcoming Christmas specials of University Challenge will air as planned.

The first airs on TV on Monday, 18 December at 8:30PM.

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