When University Challenge’s Bobby Seagull first hit the UK’s screens back in August 2016, he inspired a nation, party based on his incredible name.
Since then, the lovable team captain’s enthusiasm and humour has inspired hundreds of memes and has gained a cult following usually only enjoyed by boybands and Hollywood heartthrobs.
Tonight, the cheeky chappy from Newham will take on everybody’s favourite Roy Cropper lookalike Eric Monkman in a showdown that’s been heralded as “the battle of the century”.
Ahead of the big match, The Huffington Post UK caught up with Seagull and his Emmanuel College, Cambridge teammates Bruno Barton-Singer, Tom Hill and Leah Ward to find out more about some of the nation’s favourite boffins.
Subject: Masters in education, specialising in maths
Specialist topics: Art (I love galleries!), sports (preferably playing) and geography (”fun with flags” as Sheldon from Big Bang Theory would say).
Favourite University Challenge moment: It was in a second round match versus SOAS. When Paxman asked “What term did the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci coin?”, I buzzed in with the answer “cultural hegemony”. I then did a double-handed cheer towards the sky, combined with my cheeky grin. It has become my most meme-able moment!
Plans after graduation: I’m planning on starting a PhD in education, specialising in maths, as well as teaching maths in a Cambridge secondary school.
Weirdest thing you have seen about yourself on Twitter: Maybe this Twitter user couldn’t handle my enthusiasm, but I think my team can (I hope anyway!)
Also, this Tweet from CBBC character Hacker T dog...
Your star of the series so far: How can I choose anyone but Monkman? In my opinion, not only the best quizzer in the series, but the most entertaining to view.
Add to that, Eric is a really generous, humble yet amusing chap off screen. What’s not to love? #Monkmania will live on!
Specialist topics: Linguistics and languages are probably my biggest interests outside of maths and physics.
Favourite University Challenge moment: I got a maths question, which I never managed to do in practice, so I was pretty pleased with myself there.
Alternatively, I have no memory of raising my eyebrow and saying “Tiger” to Jeremy Paxman, but it happened and I accept it was probably the peak of my TV career, whatever happens in the semis and final.
Plans after graduation: I’m interested in staying in science and doing some form of mathematical/physical research. But I have no idea what it will be yet!
Weirdest thing you have seen about yourself on Twitter: There’s such choice. The many people who thought me and Bobby had a hate/hate relationship...
And the guy who searched me in Google Maps!
Your star of the series so far: Eric Monkman. (Sorry Bobby, all the people on Twitter are right!)
Specialist topics: Academically, I’m primarily interested in medieval politics and religion. Other than that, I have fairly wide-ranging interests. I love both classical and popular music - my dream music round would be on British punk songs.
Favourite University Challenge moment: I enjoyed getting a starter question on the Lyke Wake Walk in our tense first round match against Nottingham. I did the walk a couple of years ago – it was brutally long and poured with rain throughout, but it all seemed worth it in that moment!
Plans after graduation: If all goes to plan in my finals, I’ll be staying on at Emma [Emmanuel College] to do a Masters in medieval history.
Weirdest thing you have seen about yourself on Twitter: For better or worse, I haven’t seen too much about myself! A few people noticed that I stared at the floor a lot – I was mainly trying to avoid getting distracted by the camera and the audience.
Your star of the series so far: Bruno’s been brilliant for us, but for me the star of the series has been Balliol College, Oxford’s Joey Goldman. He’s been the top player on the UK QuizBowl circuit for the past few years, and has been equally impressive on TV. The breadth of his knowledge is phenomenal.
Specialist topics: Literature! Mostly British literature in the 1800-early 1900s. I also really enjoy languages, so multiple European language bonus rounds are always good fun, although the rest of the team are really good at them too, so they’re not exactly special.
Favourite University Challenge moment: The moment when knowing the dates of all the English prime ministers finally became worthwhile, to link up 1910 (publication date of Howards End) with Asquith.
Plans after graduation: Not really sure! Thinking about teaching, or maybe something using maths in a more engineering kind of area, but I don’t really know.
Weirdest thing you have seen about yourself on Twitter: Well it’s maybe not the weirdest, since everyone seems to have had the same thought, but everyone thinks I look like Wednesday Addams! Which I’d certainly not noticed before.
Your star of the series so far: Bobby, obviously! He’s been a phenomenal captain, and we certainly couldn’t have got anywhere without his enthusiasm, cheerfulness and determination.