To celebrate last night’s University Challenge final, presented as ever by Jeremy Paxman, we thought we’d mark the occasion with a celebration of the man himself. We all know him as the fiery-tongued, grumpy political interviewer capbable of reducing even the slickest of MPs to a shivering wreck, and from his miserly time as a weather man – “It’s April – what do you expect?” – to his rather ingenious sign-off from the daily Newsnight newsletter, he’s never been one to put up and shut up. His anti-BS stance on everything from producer’s online participation intiatives to lying politicians has made him one of the funniest guys on TV for years. Paxman, we salute you.
If only all weather forecasts were delivered with this level of sarcasm and defiant wit, by someone who clearly couldn’t give two sh*ts whether it was going to drizzle in Abergevenny or not.
He’s built up a reputation over the years as a fearsome political interviewer. He famously asked Micheal Howard the same question 12 times without getting an answer, and in doing so established his ‘repeat and repeat’ technique as the sharpened knife in any interviewer’s toolkit. Here he is stabbing that knife into Boris Johnson, to hilarious effect.
This is Paxman’s sign off from the Newsnight email newsletter, a daily nuisance he was happy to put to sleep. This landed in the email inbox of thousands of the BBC’s Newsnight subscribers in February 2011. Enjoy.
Good morning. And good afternoon. Or possibly, good evening.
Welcome to positively the last Newsnight daily email. The time has come to put this exercise in fatuousness out of its misery.
It gives me no pleasure to say that it should have happened years ago. Actually, I lie. There is more joy in heaven, etc, etc.
The reason for killing it off is pretty straightforward. It’s crap.
Conscientious readers may have noticed that Monday’s email this week was actually promoting a programme which went out last week. A carrier pigeon would have been quicker.
The daily email was dreamed up – like so many other utterly brilliant initiatives (anyone recall the Newsnight podcast, for people who preferred their television without pictures?) – by visionary senior management at the BBC.
For a while we even sent out a morning email, as well, detailing the mental anguish of the editor on duty that day, and soliciting suggestions as to what people would like to see on air that evening. This, too, often arrived after the show had been broadcast.
Like a dodgy plumber skulking away from a flooded bathroom, those responsible are blaming the tools of their trade. In this case, they’re right. The piece of kit (the “gizmo”, to give it its technical name) which sends out the email is completely useless and we can’t afford to fix it.
But fear not. There are other, thrilling ways to make sure you’re not pleasurably surprised when the programme goes on air. The fascinating blog on the Newsnight website is updated every day, and we’re also on Twitter and Facebook.
Alternatively, you could just switch on your television to BBC Two at 10.30pm.
So, farewell daily email. And a Happy New Year, Merry Christmas, Easter and Millennium Eve to all our viewers.
This is worth a mention simply for Paxman’s incredulous face as he reads out the words, in an interview with the chairman of the BBC Trust, “My Man Boobs And Me”. I think it’s safe to say Paxo won’t be tuning in.
Always a vocal opponent to the BBC’s efforts to get viewers more ‘involved’ with Newsnight, Jeremy here lambasts the producer’s “pathetic pleas” to collect the public’s bits of “home movie and the like”, so the show can turn into the BBC’s version of Animals Do The Funniest Things. Legend doesn’t really cover it.