Eric Monkman will return in the big University Challenge showdown tonight
University Challenge will draw to a close tonight as stern-faced Canadian graduate Eric Monkman threatens to claim the coveted crown.
The Wolfson Cambridge captain caused a viewer storm earlier in the competition against Emmanuel Cambridge, when his quick-fire answers secured 120 out of his team’s winning 170-point score.
He will return to the panel in Monday night’s series finale as he faces Oxford Balliol, led by Joey Goldman.
But while his impressive performance has so far prompted the hashtag #Monkmania to go viral across social media, with some fans confessing their love for him over Twitter, the star himself told The Telegraph he was baffled by the attention.
“I certainly don’t think of myself as any object of desire,” he said. “I assume people are being ironic, not serious.”
Comparing the attention of his British fans to that of his girlfriend, Beijing Normal University law professor Jiang Na, he added: “She doesn’t really see much that’s happening…She thinks it’s a bit strange.”
In an interview with Cambridge News, he continued: “I have had several people recognise me and approach me in the street since my television appearances.
“I try to remember the nice comments and forget the strange ones.”
Now back in Canada, Eric last week celebrated the broadcast of his final appearance on the show with a nostalgic trip to Cambridge, and a meet-up with former Emmanuel rival, Bobby Seagull.
After the pair visited Eton College and Windsor College together, Seagull told GQ magazine his old opponent had made his list of “top contenders” to be best man at his wedding.
Eric’s big showdown on Monday will be hosted by Jeremy Paxman as the much-loved BBC quiz show marks its 55th year.
It could be a tense fight between Eric and Joey, who also caused a stir when he threw Jeremy a disgruntled “whatever” after incorrectly answering a question on British actors.
University Challenge continues on BBC Two at 8pm on Monday.