Starter for Ten (novel)

Starter for Ten (novel)

Infobox Book
name = Starter for Ten

image_caption = Front cover
author = David Nicholls
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
subject = University Challenge
publisher =
release_date = 2003
english_release_date = 2003
pages = 480
isbn = 0340734876
preceded_by = None (debut novel)
followed_by = The Understudy

Starter for Ten by David Nicholls is a novel first published in 2003 about the character, Brian Jackson and his first year of university (1985–6), his attempts to get on the Granada Television quiz show "University Challenge", and his tentative attempts at romance with Alice Harbinson, another member of the University Challenge team. The title is taken from an opening question to a round on the quiz show worth ten points, known as the teams' 'starter for ten.' Because this reference might be lost on American readers, it was originally released as A Question of Attraction when it was published in the United States.

It was adapted in 2006 as the film "Starter for 10".


*Brian Jackson

*Rebecca Epstein - The Marxist, Jewish law student with whom Brian has an intermittent relationship. She lives in the same residence hall as Alice and offers advice and encouragement to Brian.

*Alice Harbinson - The rich love interest of the narrator who has an unexplained scar on her lip. While wealthy, both she and her parents attempt to be socially conscious.

*Patrick - Tory Captain of the University Challenge team who provokes a fight with Spencer. He, like Brian, has a crush on Alice.

Minor Characters

*Tone and Spencer - Brian's working class friends. Tone gets a job as a salesman and, like Brian's father, is twisted by the need to make commission. Spencer runs into trouble while working and taking unemployment support, visits Brian, and causes a fight at the school.

*Mr. and Mrs. Harbinson - Alice's vegetarian and nudist parents, who barely tolerate Brian's visit to their palatial cottage in the country during the holidays.

*Lucy Chang - The fourth member of the team, a medical student, who has a crush on Brian and serves as a force of moderation on the team. She is an international student from the United States.

*Des and Mum - Brian's Mother and her lover, "Uncle" Des, whom she plans to marry.

*Neil - An actor who played Richard III and who went about on crutches to get into character for a part; he eventually becomes involved with Alice.

*Marcus and Josh - Brian's housemates who brew their own beer.



One of the major themes in Starter for Ten is social class. Brian Jackson is a working class teenager from a one-parent family. His mother works in the chain-store Woolworths. On attending the prestigious University, Brian is aware that his state school background and working class roots make him stand out. In an interview in "The Guardian", the novel's writer David Nicholls expands on this theme. [cite web |url=,,1935567,00.html |title='I was a bit of a prat' |date= October 31, 2006 |publisher="The Guardian"]


External links

* [,,1935567,00.html I was a bit of a prat] , by the book's author, Guardian, 31st October 2006

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