Jeremy Paxman



University Challenge


Tough, some might say damn right rude, journalist, author and newsreader. "Paxo" has been stuffing politicians on BBC2's Newsnight since 1989. From 1994, his whine of "Oh, do come on..." has been barked at hesitant students on University Challenge and its many themed spin-offs. He was given the job possibly as a consolation for not picking up the somewhat more prestigious role of chairing the BBC political institution Question Time. His books include a treatise on The English and the joys of fishing. Other TV programmes he has presented include the mid-90's studio discussion show, "You Decide - With Paxman", several programmes on the great poets, an excellent series regarding (and entitled) "The Victorians" and a children's poetry contest, held at Oxford's Sheldonian Theatre.


He was once sent a stolen Enigma machine through the post.

Somewhat bizarrely, Paxo came 16th in a 2006 Readers Digest poll to find Britain's Silliest Celebrity. He was also voted Britain's Sexiest Brain in a Yougov poll the same year.

Rather surprisingly, he was once the subject of the BBC's family history series, "Who Do You Think You Are?" At one point, he was reduced to tears by the horrific plight of some of his ancestors. However, it wasn't long before he returned to his usual abrasive persona: when asked how the experience had affected and/or changed him, his response was "What a ridiculous question!" and other comments to that effect. (He had reacted similarly adversely early on in the programme when asked questions relating to the fact that he had some Scottish blood).

He made a brief appearance as himself in a 2000 edition of "The Vicar Of Dibley".

His early TV career included working as a news assistant and reporter on BBC Northern Ireland and 'Panorama' in the 1970's and then as a newsreader on the BBC's Six O'Clock News (alongside Sue Lawley and Nicholas Witchell) when it started in 1984. However, it wasn't until a few years later that he started to show off his abrasive interviewing style when he became the main BBC 'Breakfast Time' anchorman: he joined 'Newsnight' fairly soon after that. A memorable clip of Paxman's BBC Northern Ireland days was shown by Angus Deayton on "Before They Were Famous": Paxman was eating Christmas dinner and discussing its origins with his hostess, wearing a purple party hat from a cracker. Not quite the image we normally associate with him, you'll no doubt agree, but then we've all got to start somewhere.


The English: Portrait of a People (paperback)

The Political Animal: An Anatomy (hardback)

Fish, Fishing and the Meaning of Life (paperback)

On Royalty (hardback)


c/o Capel & Land Ltd, 29 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6PS.

Web links

IMDb entry

Wikipedia entry


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