Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jeremy Paxman

Jeremy Paxman was born on 11 May 1950 in Leeds. He wrote non-fiction books, but he is mainly known as a TV presenter. After having graduated with a Master of Arts, Jeremy began his career on a local radio. Then, he worked in Belfast as an investigating journalist before joining the BBC in London in 1977 to work as a reporter on Tonight. Two years later he became a reporter on Panorama, traveling to places such as Beirut and Uganda. Five years later he received an invitation to present the Six O’Clock News, which he accepted and presented for two years before moving to Breakfast News in 1986. He became a presenter of Newsnight, which is his current job, in 1989. He also presented other TV and radio programmes, such as “Did you see?”, “University Challenge”, “You Decide” and “Radio 4's Start The Week”.

He won several awards, such as the Interview of the Year award for his questioning of Michael Howard (1998), the Broadcasting Press Guild's award for Best Performer (Non-Acting), or the Royal Television Society TV Journalism Presenter of the Year award (2002 and 2007), and many others. He was also elected the fourth scariest celebrity on television in a Radio Times poll. A lot of people find him scary because of his incisive and aggressive interviewing style. Tough questioning is so characteristic of him that it is often called “Paxmanesque” in the United Kingdom.

One of his most famous Newsnight interviews took place on 13 May 1997. His victim was Michael Howard, to whom he asked the same question no less than 12 times. Howard gave a qualified and evasive answer each time. Paxman later admitted that he was trying to prolong the interview because the next item was not ready. After the General Elections in 2005, Paxman interviewed George Galloway, a winning candidate, asking him the following question: “Are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in parliament?” Paxman refused to go further until he got the answer, so Galloway put an end to the interview.

He also showed his brusque manners in other contexts. For example, when Newnight decided to broadcast weather forecasts instead of financial reports, he reacted, saying “And for tonight’s weather – It’s April, what do you expect?”.

Paxman had his own puppet, which made regular appearances between 1984 and 1996 on the satirical TV show “Spitting Image”. He also appeared in films (e.g. “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” (2004)) or in British TV shows in which he was asked to play his own role. There is also a funny anecdote about his surname. The BBC genealogy series “Who Do You Think You Are” reported that his ancestor from the 14th century, Roger Packsman, was a politician who had changed his name to Paxman (“man of peace”) in order to impress the electorate.
Morgane & Michael.

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