As 7pm approached, a tense silence gripped the basement room of a West End bar. It was just as well. With the microphone battery dead, the presenters would have otherwise struggled to make their voices heard.
Amplification restored, the national final of the Planning Student Quiz, sponsored by planning consultancy RPS Group, got into full swing. Eight teams of contestants from Royal Town Planning Institute-accredited undergraduate and postgraduate courses were battling it out for the £1,500 Golden Prize.
The quiz has become something of an institution since 1999, when the University of Central England became its first champions. Since then, teams from University College London, Oxford Brookes, Cardiff, Liverpool (four times), Birmingham, Manchester and the West of England (UWE) have taken the top prize.
Last month, Kingston University joined this elite group. In a high-scoring contest, Majeed Neky, Margaret Shum, Kieran Taylor and Florence Temple from the university's planning masters course, competing as the Last Bastion of Communism, scored 81.5 points out of 104 and took home the £1,500 jackpot, awarded by RPS senior director Geoff Bullock.
Austin's Angels from Birmingham finished on 78 points and PPS I Love You, also from Kingston, came third with 76. Manchester's Plantastic and The Bristow Bunch, Birmingham's Enemies of Enterprise, UWE's Only Here for the Freebies and We're Totally Pickled from Cardiff all achieved respectable scores of 58 or more.
Prizewinner Taylor said: "It was great fun taking part in the quiz and meeting planning students from other institutions." He added that the team's winnings would be spent on a field trip to Warsaw.
As well as the prize money and opportunity for students to share experiences and make contacts with their peers, the quiz may even provide job benefits: two RPS staff attending this year's heats first encountered their future employers at the Planning Student Quiz. "It's good to hear that students are still determined to get into planning despite the difficulties facing the sector," said Bullock.
How would you have done?
Q1. Which politician said the planning system is a "drag anchor on growth"?
Q2. In which fictional county would you find Aspern Tallow, Badger's Drift and Causton?
Q3. Which video game offers settings in San Andreas, Liberty City and Vice City?
Q4. Which island lies at the mid point between Land's End and John O'Groats?
Q5. Which tube station serves Albert Square in EastEnders?
Q6. Who was the author of The Rights of Man, published in 1791?