The BBC was forced to deny claims that the quiz had an octopus mascot University Challenge was presented by participants as a coded attack on the Jewish people.
Screenshots from Monday’s episode are going viral on X (formerly Twitter), with users saying the mascot resembles anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda.
There are also allegations that contestant Melika Gorgianeh wore the colors of the Palestinian flag during her performance University Challengethe longest running game show in the UK.
Ben Obese-Jecty, who will stand as a Conservative MP in the upcoming UK elections, said: University Challenge the episode was “disgraceful”.
The BBC argued that the combination of the octopus, Gorgianeh’s jacket and the timing of the episode was a coincidence rather than a conspiracy.
The company reported that students of the University of Oxford chose the octopus as their mascot because it was one of their favorite animals, and not because it incited anti-Semitic propaganda.
The BBC added that University Challenge the episode was filmed in March, well before the current conflict in Gaza broke out, and the jacket worn by Gorgianeh did not depict the Palestinian flag.
A similar Zara jacket is currently listed on second-hand fashion site Depop, where the seller describes the colors as “navy and orange” with pink detailing. The flag of Palestine is black, green and white with a red triangle.
A BBC spokesman said: “We are aware that there are a number of false claims being made online in relation to last night’s episode of the program University Challenge and we completely condemn the abuses published and shared. For the avoidance of doubt, this episode was filmed in March.
“The mascot is one of many chosen by the team over the course of the show and is one of their favorite animals. The jacket worn by one of the players was navy blue, orange, pink and green, purchased from a high street store. This has no connection with any flag.