‘Subject Slurring’: A new and intoxicating Cambridge-based web series
‘Let’s get people drunk on the radio and ask them questions’
Subject Slurring is a brand-new web series created by two second year Cambridge students, Olivia Railton and Arthur Roadnight. The series currently consists of three half-hour-long episodes where its creators sit down with a table full of booze (accompanied by some bread slices, you know, to be sensible about things) and a Cambridge student, to quiz them on all things related to their degree. For each incorrect answer, the contestant drinks. For each correct answer, one of the hosts must drink.*
*Arthur and Olivia wish to make it clear that the recording of this show took place under extensive welfare provisions and were overseen by at least three sober people on every occasion. They also wish to add: “We don’t endorse heavy drinking, we just do it”.
I was given the immense privilege of early access to the first episode of Subject Slurring; a peculiar, sit-down investigation into the life and degree of third year English student, Rory Russell. What began with a set of quick-fire questions designed to get minds, and throats, warmed up, ended in a hilariously nonsensical explanation of how to match your personality type to each of the characters from The Wind in the Willows, and a wonderfully executed performance of everyone’s favourite Roald Dahl character – the chocolate river.
As an English student myself, I was immediately alarmed by the number of questions I would have certainly answered incorrectly, even without the rum. Rory seemed to manage it much better than I ever could, whilst host and Linguistics undergrad, Arthur, grew increasingly perplexed and at one point even confused the popular genre of Dominican dance, the merengue, with the unrelated but nonetheless legendary dessert, meringue. It is here that I became reassured by the notion that being a sub-par English student is still not as bad as doing Linguistics. Don’t believe me? Arthur himself notes his intellectual failings in the opening episode, saying that “if you don’t do English literature and are a bit thick, like me, read Agatha Christie”. Clearly I’m above this standard of reading, because I’ve never even heard of Agatha Christie, so ha.
You can tune in to Rory’s episode on 13th July, to find out who takes the crown of victory in the English vs. Linguistics tolerance battle, and to get answers to some of the most profound questions in literature, such as why Satan fell from Paradise, and, “what even is gruel?”. You can also watch the newly released trailer, here:
Subject Slurring‘s inception
I was also able to sit down with Arthur and Olivia and to ask them more about the process that led them to the creation of this series. The pair have been close friends since the beginning of their time at University. Arthur sees Olivia as his “annoying little sister”, whilst Olivia describes Arthur as “a six-foot-plus giant who studies Linguistics, which is basically a Tesco’s own-brand English degree” (I’m beginning to feel bad about how much Linguistics is getting slated here, but I’m just going to move on). Speaking to both of them, I found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that inspiration for the show came from their own shared drunken experience, right at the beginning of Michaelmas.
Arthur told the Tab: “Olivia seems to be at her most creative when she’s plastered. This is what I discovered in September 2019, when she approached me on the staircase in our house and said something that vaguely sounded like ‘let’s get people drunk on the radio and ask them questions’. And now here we are almost a year later. The idea has developed like a very large egg.”
Olivia confirmed this story (without the slightly bizarre egg comparison): “The creative process consisted of me coming up with stupid ideas and Arthur actually going along with them, the enabler that he is. It kind of snowballed from there, and 48 hours later we were pitching this to the National Tab TV people”.
Thankfully, they did not have to bring their spontaneous venture to fruition on their own, as Subject Slurring soon acquired a large team from across the Cambridge community, to produce a series that will not only be aired to a Cambridge-based audience, but nationally across The Tab platform. The pair acknowledge that teamwork really made the dream work in this instance:
“It was only when we put the credits together for the final edits that we really realised just how many people it took to bring our dumb idea to life. From graphics and music to editors and technicians, we’ve had the lot. We needed to ensure there were at least three sober people on set for welfare purposes. Our technicians, Charlotte and Jonathan, were a massive help and kept cool heads when the cameras consistently died mid-recording (oops). We’d also like to give a special shout out to our producer, Beth Kelly, who has said it was always her dream to be known as ‘ProducerBeth’ behind the camera.”
Olivia, Arthur, ‘ProducerBeth’ and co. chose participants using an online application form that saw multiple students applying to be featured for the same subject (classic jobless Englings tbh). After selecting their candidates, they got to work on writing specific questions. “For the most part, we tried to pick questions that were kind of unanswerable, because we knew it would give more free reign and only work to confuse the drunk people more. Honestly, if we’d have tried to come up with genuine University Challenge style questions (and there are a few in there, they don’t go down well and most have been edited out) then we would’ve had nothing fun to ramble about.”
Truly, the team has been dedicated to keeping inaccessible and nerdy content off the table (they wouldn’t have had room for it with all the bread on there anyway), and believe that this web series is a myth-busting, lighthearted representation of what life in Cambridge can be like. They said: “We felt that this was a great opportunity to squash some annoying stereotypes about Cambridge students for all those at other universities, or those who are considering applying here.
“Many people think that all Cambridge students are pompous, serious, and obsessed with academia, but this series really showcases that we can be just as stupid and silly as anyone else. In fact, except for the ironic tag-line of ‘Cambridge’s finest minds’, there isn’t an ounce of ‘stereotypical Cambridge’ in the show at all. It really could have been made at any university.”
You can keep up to date with ‘Subject Slurring’ by liking their page on Facebook, and watching the all-new episodes on Tab TV, which will be aired on the 13th, 20th and 27th of July.
Cover Image Credit: Olivia Railton, Sinthu Devkumar