BBC star Jeremy Paxman tells TV bosses to stop 'insulting' viewers

Veteran broadcaster says University Challenge 'pays the audience the courtesy of assuming that we're quite clever enough to take part'

BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman has criticised TV bosses dumbing down shows and "assuming we're all idiots."

He also boasted that University Challenge - which he presents - stands out among popular quiz shows for refusing to compromise on the toughness of its questions.

The Corporation's formidable inquisitor told the Radio Times: “The main reason I love University Challenge is that it gives the lie to the media stereotype about young people - that they all know nothing, and couldn't care less. It's complete rubbish.

“Every year we see more and more teams of young people who know amazing things, and you're just left wondering in pleasurable disbelief, 'How on earth did they get that?'"

Paxman was himself criticised by a report from the BBC Trust, which said guests facing him on Newsnight - or his Today programme counterpart John Humphrys - were being subjected to an unfair beating from a "prizefighter".

The report's author, former ITV CEO Stuart Prebble, wrote: "Sometimes I feel that tuning in to either can be like witnessing what seems to be a big and healthy looking bloke getting into the ring with the fairground prize-fighter."

Paxman, 63, told the magazine: “Television bosses should stop insulting the public's intelligence by assuming we're all idiots.

“University Challenge pays the audience the courtesy of assuming that we're quite clever enough to take part. It operates on the healthy assumption that learning and being able to work things out are good things.”

“We haven't compromised. It's quite hard and it will stay quite hard. In an age when you can win shedloads of money or fleeting glory by knowing the Chancellor of the Exchequer's first name (even though that one did seem to stump President Obama), our producers have made the questions more difficult than they have ever been,” he said.

Paxman refused to divulge how he fared against the students on his BBC2 show, saying: “That one I'm not going to answer.”

He added that his favourite round on the show was one in which students were asked to identify laundry instruction symbols on clothes labels - and got them all wrong.

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea