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'You know it's very wrong': Jeremy Paxman branded a 'bully' for embarrassing student on University Challenge

  • @daisy_wyatt

Jeremy Paxman once said: "It's stupid to have a simple-minded view." But the University Challenge presenter's razor sharp wit and lacerating tongue have landed him with accusations of "bullying".

Angry viewers took to Twitter after Monday night's episode to condemn Paxman for ridiculing a nervous University College London student.

The veteran broadcaster, and Newsnight presenter, was branded a “bully” over his treatment of third-year medical student Tom Tyszczuk Smith who answered a question incorrectly

Paxman's "Starter for Ten" question was: “'The liberties of England and the Protestant religion I will maintain.' Which royal figure made that claim when he landed at Brixham, in Devon, in 1688?”

After an incorrect answer by a team member from rival University of Bangor, UCL student Tyszczuk Smith suggested William I.

Paxman exclaimed: “No! William I? No I’m sorry that’s the wrong answer and you know it’s very wrong.”

Raising his eyebrows, he continued: “It’s only out by about 600 years or so. Anyway no, it’s William of Orange of course, William III.”

The 20-year-old from Cambridge appeared dismayed by the telling off, shaking his head and saying: “Sorry, sorry, no I’m sorry.”

He kept his head lowered for much of the remainder of the game which aired on Monday night.

The BBC received 44 complaints about the episode and a number of viewers expressed their concerns on Twitter. Scott Ruminates tweeted: “Why not just spit in his face Paxman – really show your disgust.”

Prof Richard Barker said on the social media site: "University challenge Paxman just bullied Smith from UCL, very clever but self effacing student. Absolutely out of order," while Judith Stanley tweeted "Paxman is the school bully."

A BBC spokesman said: “University Challenge is a tense and fast-paced competition, and Jeremy Paxman’s acerbic remarks have long been part of the appeal. Viewers and contestants alike know what to expect from the host.”

Despite Tyszczuk Smith’s mistake, the UCL team beat Bangor by 190 points to 125 in the episode, watched by 2.89million.