Jeremy Paxman would have 'done better' had he fought in the WW1 trenches - News - People - The Independent

Jeremy Paxman would have 'done better' had he fought in the WW1 trenches

The Newsnight presenter's interview technique could have been even tougher, he says, had be have served in the Armed Forces

It’s tough to imagine a steelier technique than the hardline approach Jeremy Paxman takes when faced with a difficult interviewee.

But, the Newsnight presenter says, he could have been even harder, had he not been part of a generation that have "had it pretty easy" and had served in the Armed Forces instead.

Downing Street Demands Paxman Apology

"I’d have done better for having time in uniform," he told the Radio Times. "The more we see of other members of our society, we realise we’re all human beings with the same hopes and fears.

"I’m not arguing in favour of National Service, but I feel in awe of my parents’ generation who had to do that, and a bit guilty having such a privileged life. We’ve had it pretty easy and never been tested."

National Service was officially ended in 1960, when Paxman was just 10 years old.

"Obviously I’m not wishing war on anyone," he continued. "But it might have been better for all of us if we’d been obliged to do something rather than choosing for ourselves.

"It’s difficult to comprehend today a society where people were expected to do things other than gratify themselves."

Paxman, 63, whose own father served in the North Atlantic convoys during World War 2, was speaking ahead of the launch of his new TV series Britain’s Great War, which will kick off the BBC’s four-year commemoration of the First World War centenary next week.

"It’s such an imaginative leap from our cosseted, indulged lives to something other than the achievement of personal pleasure," he reflected. "That’s really why people find it so hard to come to terms with the War."

Jeremy Paxman Shaves Off Beard, Hits Headlines

The present spoke about Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman, who was sentenced to life for killing a wounded Taliban insurgent in 2011.

"It’s not attractive seeing people who have never been in extremis passing judgment on others who have," he said. "Who knows how we’d behave? Imagine seeing your best friend blown to pieces, unable even to retrieve the body for burial.

"You might have heard him dying, eaten by rats. None of us has had to live through this, and we should respect those who have."

He also touched on his public row with Education Secretary Michael Gove over Blackadder. Gove said he felt the sitcom made World War One out to be a "misbegotten shambles" and perpetuated "myth". Paxman had criticised Gove for misquoting an academic on the subject.

Paxman Claims Internet Used To Facilitate Masturbation 'Or Worse'

But speaking to the Radio Times, he agreed with Gove, at least in that the TV series should not be taught to children as straight "fact".

"It’s a brilliant comedy, which I enjoy, but the problem comes when it’s taught as fact. Generals were often far from the action, but it would have been worse if they had been closer.

"When armchair generals glibly criticise them for continuing to mount attacks on enemy trenches, we have to ask, ‘Why did they continue?’ They did so because no one knew of any alternative."

The first episode of Britain's Great War will be broadcast at 9pm on Monday 27 January 2014 on BBC1.


 
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week