BRITAIN’S MOST FEARED television interviewer, notorious for once asking a minister the same question 12 times over, presents his final edition of the BBC’s flagship current affairs show tonight.
Jeremy Paxman’s combative, accusatory style on “Newsnight” – he often greets poor answers with a disapproving raised eyebrow – has seen him clash with everyone from former prime minister Tony Blair to comedian Russell Brand.
Now he is stepping down from the late night show after 25 years, saying he is looking forward to going to bed “at much the same time as most people”.
In one of Paxman’s most famous interviews he asked Blair whether he and former US president George W Bush would “pray together” in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war, drawing an irritated denial.
In 1997, he asked Michael Howard, then Conservative home secretary, the same question about a prison scandal 12 times over.
Paxman reportedly said afterwards that he had simply been filling time after being told that the interview slot had been extended.
Last year, his interview with Brand became a YouTube hit with over 10 million views after he reprimanded the comedian for saying he couldn’t “be arsed to vote”.
Paxman’s final interview will be with London Mayor Boris Johnson – a rare politician whose verbal dexterity matches the “Newsnight” presenter’s.
Here’s a taster of what you can expect…
When Paxman announced his resignation in April, he said he had told the BBC he wanted to step down last July.
The BBC said then that Paxman had agreed to stay on to help the new “Newsnight” editor “following a difficult period” in which the show was criticised for pulling a planned investigation into late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile’s historic sex crimes.
- © AFP 2014 with additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.