We spoke to the UoM student on University Challenge who became a viral meme overnight

Fingers on buzzers please


After University of Manchester PhD Physics student Joe Hanson was caught on camera visibly jumping out of his skin when the buzzer sounded on University Challenge last Tuesday, Twitter did its thing and made the UoM student a viral meme sensation.

Competing against Hertford College, Oxford, the UoM team was comprised of Joe Hanson, Georgia Lynott, Alex Antao and team captain James Ross.

Despite the hundreds of likes and retweets on the video, Joe seemed more than happy to join in the fun, turning his reaction into a gif and a popular meme.

Speaking to The Manchester Tab, Joe said: "Being on the show was one of the most fun things I've ever done. Walking onto the set and seeing your name, the audience, and Jeremy Paxman is incredibly exciting. It's also absolutely terrifying, though – that's easy to forget when watching it at home! I know I'm less composed (understatement) than most people, and a few times in practice I'd made my teammates laugh by jumping while buzzing in. I'd also barely slept the night before this match, so I was basically on edge throughout the episode – oops.

"The moment that got everyone's attention was when I was outbuzzed to a question on 'comets'. I knew the answer but as I pressed down on my buzzer, I heard the other team buzz in. I was embarrassed and disappointed at being outbuzzed on my own subject (astronomy), and so my enthusiastic, happy jump to the buzzer turned into a sort of panicked flailing mess."

This episode of University Challenge was filmed on October 22nd, six weeks before it was aired. Speaking about whether he anticipated such a viral reaction, Joe said: "After it was filmed I thought, ah it's grand, the camera's going to be busy zooming in on the other guy. I'll just disappear into the background and no-one will notice a thing.

"I was very wrong! The reaction and memes have been quite surprising. I was definitely anxious about how I would come across, so I'm glad that it's mostly been very funny."

Beating Hertford College by 70 points, the UoM team won the last round and are now through to the quarter finals. You can watch them play off next Tuesday on BBC Two at 8.30pm.