Professor Anthony Niblett with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek

Watching Jeopardy! on Christmas Day?

Law professor a contestant on quiz show

“I’ll take really cool academics for $500.”

Answer: “He’s a law professor, was born in England, and will be on Jeopardy this Christmas Day.”

Question: “Who is Anthony Niblett?”

That’s correct!

The University of Toronto's Niblett will appear on “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” Dec. 25, 2013, ready to show the world the depth and breadth of his knowledge from matters weighty to seemingly trivial.

Niblett, a much-loved assistant professor in the Faculty of Law, has a penchant for lively, interactive, YouTube-enhanced lectures, and a regular gig hosting trivia nights at local Toronto pubs. That’s in addition to the improv classes he took “as a way of meeting people when I first arrived.”

The quiz show first hooked him back in 1993. “I used to watch Australia’s version of Jeopardy! when it ran for about six months. But then it was cancelled. I guess there weren’t enough people like me watching it.”

His interest in Jeopardy! persevered, and when he moved to Canada, after teaching at Harvard and University of Chicago, he found out about the show’s casting call last March. The Anglo-Australian Niblett shone among the 2,500 possible contenders.

An online 50-question test screens the first round of participants.“I then received an email requesting another test and an in-person interview,” Niblett says. So he drove to Detroit in June, at his expense, faced a three-person panel, wrote the second test, and participated in a mock show. “They want to ensure you don’t ‘freeze’ on camera,” he explains.

The call from Los Angeles came in September. “I was unbelievably shocked.”

The show was taped in L. A. in October, in front of a live audience of mostly school children and contestants’ family members. Except his. “Mine didn’t make the trip from Australia,” laughs Niblett.

“It was a lot of fun, especially meeting Alex Trebek,” Niblett says. “It was all very surreal but very fun.”

The studio is large, the topics screen is small. Everyone in production is kept busy, churning out five shows a day.

“It takes 22 minutes to tape one episode, and it went so quickly. It's a little anticlimactic, but overall it was fantastic experience and a really exciting day.”

Watch Niblett on Jeopardy! at 7:30 pm Dec. 25, 2013 on CHCH TV’s Channel 11 in Toronto or on the ABC network affiliate in your area.

Lucianna Ciccocioppo is a writer with the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto.

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