He’s been hounded for his apparent lack of ‘impartiality’, dismissed for his ‘one nation Tory’-leaning ideology and condemned by rival political interviewer Andrew Marr as a 'genuinely tortured, angry individual'.
But Jeremy Paxman is not beyond balance and fairness when it comes to gender equality.
The former Newsnight host used his usual introduction at the start of University Challenge to reignite a discussion about sexism on the show.
As he presented the two Oxford University teams, he said that they could expect to face the usual “tough questions” on a number of given subjects, but, “Few tougher, perhaps, than why on earth are there no women left in this stage of the competition?”.
Feminist activists have long complained about the lack of female contestants on University Challenge – and their claims are not unsubstantiated by the figures.
Only 25 of the 112 students who entered this year were women, and almost half of the teams that entered were made up of four men. One team out of the 28, the Open University, boasted three women and one man.
Jeremy Paxman's best one-liners
Jeremy Paxman's best one-liners
1/12 On his political allegiance:
"I have to be frank, I suppose I am a one-nation Tory, yes."
2/12 On horse comparisons:
"I've spent my whole life being told I have a face like a horse. You are just what you are, aren't you?"
3/12 On his dream woman:
"I would be very happy to go cycling with Sigourney Weaver."
4/12 On Tony Blair:
"He had a barrister's ability to master a brief. When you have that amazing command of detail and a messianic faith, it makes you slightly dangerous."
5/12 On sneering:
"I hate the word 'sneering', I can't help the way my face looks."
6/12 On fitting in:
"I've always felt myself to be an outsider. I've always felt awkward."
7/12 On beard phobia:
“Unless you’re lucky enough to be Uncle Albert on Only Fools and Horses, Demis Roussos or Abu Hamza, the BBC is generally as pogonophobic as the late-lamented Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha."
8/12 On newsreader Huw Edwards:
"Huw Edwards can come across like some evangelical preacher on a wet Sunday morning in Merthyr Tydfil, and indeed, most of the earnest prophets of news claim merely to be passing on a greater truth."
9/12 On Twitter:
"Twitter? This is an activity for people who have got nothing going on in between their ears, or nothing going on in their lives."
10/12 On English progressiveness:
"The English approach to ideas is not to kill them, but to let them die of neglect."
11/12 On conscientious objectors:
"To be honest extreme conscientious objectors have always struck me as cranks."
12/12 On the problems with Marks & Spencer underwear:
"I have noticed that something very troubling has happened. There's no other way to put this. Their [Marks and Spencer's] pants no longer provide adequate support."
Paxman’s statement followed a heated critique on his performance during the Battle for Number 10 interview show by BBC broadcaster Andrew Marr.
Speaking to the London School of Economics at the Polis Journalism Conference, the political host said that the separate examination of the leaders during the Channel 4 programme was “not a good replacement” for a head-on debate between the pair.
“I thought, I mean... the thing about Jeremy is that he is a genuinely tortured, angry individual - and you get the real Jeremy,” The Times quotes him as saying.
“He looks disdainful and contemptuous and furious with his guests because he by and large is. You can’t fake these things on television.
“But there is a danger for all of us, as it were, in the interviewer’s chair, to forget that we are not the ones standing for election. And I thought Ed Miliband did score [on Thursday] when he said: ‘Jeremy, you’re important, you’re not that important’.”Reuse content