The celebrity line-up has been confirmed for this year’s Christmas University Challenge.

The Jeremy Paxman-fronted show, which is filmed on location at MediaCityUK, returns to BBC Two later this month.

Over 50 prominent alumni from 14 universities and university colleges will compete against each other as they vie for the honour of being crowned Series Champions.

Each team will compete in one of seven first round matches, after which the four teams with the highest winning scores will face each other in two semi-finals, with the winners then meeting in the final.

Peter Gwyn, executive producer, ITV Studios, said: “Once again, distinguished alumni from a range of different industries and disciplines will be coming together to test their general knowledge this Christmas, as they battle it out to try and lead their alma mater to the title and claim this year’s bragging rights.”

The full line-up:

Bristol

  • Will Hutton (Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, author and Observer Columnist)
  • Kate Quilton (Journalist and television presenter)
  • Miranda Krestovnikoff (Wildlife presenter and President of the RSPB)
  • Julie Myerson (Novelist)

City

  • Samira Ahmed (Journalist and broadcaster)
  • Sir Brendan Barber (Chair of ACAS)
  • Tiff Needell (Professional racing driver and television presenter)
  • Ramita Navai (Foreign affairs journalist and author)

Edinburgh

  • Rachael Stirling (Actress)
  • Helen Pidd (North of England Editor of The Guardian)
  • Steve Jones (Science Writer)
  • Hermione Cockburn (TV presenter and Scientific Director of Dynamic Earth)

Kent

  • Paul Ross (Television and radio presenter)
  • Jeremy Wade (Presenter of TV’s River Monsters)
  • Jamie Angus (Expert and Inventor in Audio Technology)
  • Shiulie Ghosh (Television journalist and news anchor)

Leeds

  • Kamal Ahmed (Economics Editor of the BBC)
  • Gus Unger-Hamilton (Member of the Mercury prize-winning band alt-J)
  • Steve Bell (Political Cartoonist for The Guardian)
  • Louise Doughty (Novelist)

Magdalene, Cambridge

  • Chris Lintott (Co-presenter of The Sky at Night)
  • Clemency Burton-Hill (Writer and broadcaster)
  • Mike Newell (Film director, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
  • Stefan Wolff (Professor of International Security at the University of Birmingham)

Manchester

  • Simon Armitage (Poet)
  • Sir Philip Craven (President of the International Paralympic Committee)
  • Sarfraz Manzoor (Journalist, broadcaster and author)
  • Erica McAlister (Entomologist and Collections Manager at the Natural History Museum)

Newcastle

  • Helen Scales (Marine biologist and writer)
  • Wilko Johnson (Music legend)
  • Neil Astley (Founder of poetry publishers, Bloodaxe Books)
  • Charlie Webster (TV and sports presenter)

Nottingham

  • Chris Hawkins (Presenter on BBC Radio 6 Music)
  • David Florence (Canoeist, triple Olympic silver medallist)
  • Nick Miller (BBC weather presenter)
  • Frances Spalding (Art Historian)

SOAS

  • Dom Joly (Comedian and travel writer)
  • Minna Salami (Writer, blogger and commentator on social, political and cultural issues)
  • Gus Casely-Hayford (Cultural historian)
  • Sir David Warren (Former Ambassador to Japan, Chairman of the Japan Society of the UK)

St. Anne’s, Oxford

  • Dame Mary Archer (Chair of the Science Museum Group)
  • Dr Janina Ramirez (Historian, broadcaster and writer)
  • Jacky Rowland (Television news correspondent)
  • Rebecca Morelle (Science Correspondent at BBC News)

St. Catharine’s, Cambridge

  • Matthew Price (Chief Correspondent for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme)
  • Joanne Harris (Novelist)
  • Peter Wothers (Science author and Cambridge academic)
  • Ivana Gavric (Concert pianist)

St, Hilda’s, Oxford

  • Val McDermid (Crime writer and broadcaster)
  • Daisy Dunn (Author and journalist)
  • Dame Fiona Caldicott (National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care)
  • Adele Geras (Novelist, children’s writer)

Sussex

  • Dermot Murnaghan (TV news presenter)
  • Hattie Hayridge (Comedienne)
  • Sir Timothy O’Shea (Principal of the University of Edinburgh)
  • Alex Bailin (QC at Matrix Chambers)

Fixtures

  • Manchester vs. St. Anne’s, Oxford
  • Kent vs. Sussex
  • City vs. Newcastle
  • SOAS vs. Leeds
  • Edinburgh vs. St. Catherine’s, Cambridge
  • Magdalene, Cambridge vs. St. Hilda’s, Oxford
  • Bristol vs. Nottingham
  • Semi-Final 1
  • Semi-Final 2
  • Final