Jeremy Paxman to explore comedy once he steps down from Newsnight
Ian Burrell is Assistant Editor and Media Editor at The Independent, i paper and Independent on Sunday. He covers news from the whole media sector from television, press, radio and advertising to technology. His weekly column on the media appears every Monday in The Independent and i paper. He also writes on media, music and culture, including long-form pieces for The Independent’s Saturday magazine and the Independent on Sunday’s magazine, New Review. He is a regular presenter of BBC Radio 4’s What The Papers Say and a specialist commentator to Monocle 24 radio. He has contributed to most major broadcast outlets including BBC television and radio, CNN, Sky News, Al Jazeera and LBC. He has also written on media for GQ magazine. Ian has been reporting on the media industry for The Independent for more than a decade. Previously he was the newspaper’s Home Affairs Editor. He worked at The Sunday Times for five years, including as a member of the investigative Insight team, covering stories on political funding, industrial espionage and the arms industry. Previously he worked in ITV for London Weekend Television, on a weekly current affairs programme presented by Danny Baker. Ian trained at the Birmingham Post & Mail and was Regional Reporter of the Year in Press Gazette’s national awards.
Thursday 01 May 2014
Jeremy Paxman is preparing to explore comedy and other new genres in a marked departure from the role he has held for the past 25 years as presenter of Newsnight and grand inquisitor of the British political establishment.
Paxman, 63, who will present a stage show at this year’s Edinburgh Festival called Paxo, is said by colleagues to have been impressed with the popularity of news-based comedy shows in America where many of the stars of TV current affairs are satirists such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
The presenter, who will continue to host BBC2’s University Challenge, is also believed to be exploring opportunities to present further documentaries for the BBC, following his work on Britain’s Great War in February.
Paxman told colleagues he would “quite like to work in different genres” and that his age meant that he needed to act quickly. The presenter has become known for his aggressive interviewing style, but according to the publicity material for Paxo it “unstuffs the man ranked by GQ magazine as ‘Britain’s 26th rudest person’.” The Edinburgh show will explore such themes as “pogonophobia, underpants and the human condition”, the former being a prejudice against beards.
Sarah Esdaile, the theatre director producing Paxo, has previously said the show will demonstrate “Jeremy’s positive mental attitude” and give audiences “a little insight into the enigmatic Mr Paxman and what makes him tick”. Colleagues believe that if the show is well-received it could be a spring board to a television format, possibly along the lines of Stewart’s popular The Daily Show.
It has emerged that Paxman blindsided BBC bosses by the suddenness of Wednesday evening’s announcement of his decision to leave Newsnight, which left colleagues shocked and some in tears.
The BBC issued a statement saying the presenter had revealed his intention to depart the flagship last summer but, while that is true, senior executives were caught by surprise as Paxman chose the day of his departure and called Newsnight staff around him on the third floor at New Broadcasting House where, sitting on a chair, he gave a warm and informal address.
The BBC hoped Paxman would remain until the end of the summer, when his latest contract expired, or until the next election. But the presenter, who is required to host 100 shows a year and who likes to take August as a holiday, calculated that he would complete his annual workload by June and then leave. He wanted to announce his departure on a day when he was in the office.
Although the BBC tried to give the impression of a well planned announcement, issuing tributes from director general Tony Hall, director of news James Harding and Newsnight editor Ian Katz, its statement was drawn up “on the hoof”, sources said.
Paxman angered senior BBC figures with comments in an interview in April in which he described the BBC as “smug”, dismissed its new headquarters as “ghastly” and said: “There’s a pile of stuff on the BBC I can’t stand.”
His presence on Newsnight was such that the late-night programme will have to fight hard to persuade viewers to tune in. But the show has enjoyed a year-on-year uplift in ratings for the past two months and is attempting to find a more distinctive tone. Paxman’s departure will allow for greater flexibility and additional budget, although money was not a factor in him leaving.
Laura Kuenssberg, Kirsty Wark and Emily Maitlis will share presenting duties with a further presenter being appointed during the summer. Tim Luckhurst, Professor of Journalism at the University of Kent and a former BBC journalist, said Eddie Mair, host of Radio 4’s PM, or Evan Davis, of the Today programme, would both make fine additions to the Newsnight presenting team.
The former Labour Home Secretary, David Blunkett MP, said: “I’ve always enjoyed my clashes with Jeremy Paxman. His style is what he is – sardonic, sometimes downright rude but always forensic, incisive and doing the job he was paid to do. He’ll be sorely missed and I shall be sorry not to cross swords with him in this particular theatre in the future.”
David Lammy MP said Mr Paxman was “so integral” to the BBC and Newsnight that “he has almost become an institution in himself”.
“His name and style have become inextricably linked to that of Newsnight and for over two decades he has been a leading figure in a new era of political journalism. It is always a pleasure – if one can call it that – to be interviewed by him and I’m sure viewers will miss his straight talking and tough interviewing, although I suspect a number of MPs will be quietly breathing a collective sigh of relief,” he said.
President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
Aylan Kurdi: Canadian immigration minister suspends election campaign to investigate why 'Syrian family's refugee application was refused'
Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
- 1 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...
£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...
£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...