- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
By Jonathan Tomlin
Two Oxford students achieved minor stardom on Monday when they appeared on a new game show screened by television channel Dave.
Thomas Crawford, a fourth year Mathematician from St John’s, and Samiha Ismail, a fourth year Maths and Stats student at Keble, appeared on the new programme Dara O’Brien: School of Hard Sums.
The students appeared alongside comedian Alex Horne. O’Brian and his guests attempt to solve series of real-life problems using mathematical concepts.
The questions are set by Oxford academic Marcus du Sautoy, Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the Mathematical Institute. Du Sautoy is also a Fellow of New College.
Ismail commented on the experience, saying: “I first heard about the show from a friend, and thought I would apply as it seemed like one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Plus since I loved maths and comedy there wasn’t really a down side. I never thought I would actually be cast in two episodes, which is why I was so shocked to get a call back after the auditions.
“After the whole experience it was really weird seeing myself on TV, I kind of cringed every time I came up. All my friends watched it with me, so I think I more watched their reactions to the show than the show its self.
“Since the show was aired I have had loads of people tell me about the show, which just makes you realise how many people watch Dave. Has this Stardom changed me? I would have to say yes, as it has made me realise you should never be scared to go for things you want.
“Overall it was a really great experience and I cannot wait for the next episode.”
On his experience appearing on national television, Crawford said: “It was, as a whole, fantastic. It was great fun to meet Dara and to be part of a TV show and spending a couple of days in the television studios was quite surreal, especially since my dressing room was next to Jason Donovan and Cher Lloyd.”
He added: “The questions weren’t too bad, although I was pretty unhappy being told that one of the problems we were given was actually impossible, which didn’t go down very well after spending 20 minutes trying to get an answer.”
Crawford applied for a place in the show after encouragement from du Sautoy, with whom he was working closely for the past three years on various mathematics-based outreach programmes. To prepare for the show, Crawford was given take-home questions, which he said were designed to give him “an idea of the different areas of mathematics the show would be based on”.
After watching the programme, Andrew Foo, a third year Law student at St John’s, said: “It’s quite nice to see your college mates appear on national television. The problems set were really quite complex and some genuinely baffled me. Now I’m wondering if there ever will be a law-related game-show, but I am not sure how many viewers would actually tune into that!”
Geraint Jones, a chemist at the college, added that being on TV put Crawford in his element. He said: “Tom loves to be the centre of attention so being on TV was ideal for him – he often goes to bops topless and has recently had a Justin Bieber tattoo on his arse for charity. No joke.”
Professor Paul Tod, Crawford’s tutor, commented on Crawford’s mathematical ability, saying that he was a “great student who puts a lot of effort into outreach and publicising maths, and still gets very high exam scores”. He added: “He’s a good advertisement for maths and for Oxford.”
Crawford will embark upon PhD research at Cambridge University later this year.