Heads up: Top comment and controversy

After Paxman shamed student on University Challenge, here's the presenter's top 5 ‘rude’moments

Jeremy Paxman's style - prickly to flat-out rude - has earned him huge approval ratings, but today the BBC's top anchor came under attack himself for savaging a shy student on last night's episode of University Challenge. The UCL undergratuate, Tyszczuk Smith, was left crestfallen after his grasp of England's monarchical history was subject to Paxman's scorn.

Asked which royal figure said "The Liberties of England and the Protestant religion I will maintain" in 1688, Smith ventured William I. "I'm sorry that's the wrong answer", replied Paxman "and you know it's very wrong". Who wouldn't know the right one? "William of Orange of course, William III".

The sight of Paxman in highest dudgeon makes for captivating television and, though there might be sympathy for his latest victim (who hardly uttered a peep in the incident's wake), it doesn't seem the veteran broadcaster is mellowing. At all. Here's five moments from the archive to prove it.

1.   "You ever think you are incompetent?"

Paxman berates junior MP Chloe Smith during a Newsnight interview on the fuel tax U-turn in June, 2012

2.    "Like a bad kebab, vomited out of the single European currency"

Greeks were enraged by the stereotyping in a discussion of whether their nation would be forced to exit the Eurozone.

3.    "Those old-fashioned values, how are they consonant with your party taking money from a pornographer?"

Tony Blair was put on the back-foot when confronted with a list of titles published by the Express group - donors to the Labour party - including 'Horny Housewives', 'Megaboobs' and 'Skinny and Wriggly'.

4.     "Are those your medals?"

Paxman interviewed BNP leader Nick Griffin in the run up to the 2010 General Election and angled in on the war medals that appeared above Griffin's shoulder in a party political broadcast. Were they his? Erm, no. They belonged to the owner of the house where the clip was filmed.

5.    "Did you threaten to over-rule him?"

Not particularly acerbic on its own, but persistence has always been key to Paxman's armory. In 1997, he asked Michael Howard the same question twelve times in an attempt to pin the then Home Secretary down on what led to the dismissal of Derek Lewis, a prison chief who oversaw Parkhurst prison at the time of several high-profile escapes, and who was later paid £200,000 in compensation after Howard admitted he had been wrongfully sacked.

Did you think Paxman's latest outburst crossed the line? Or is this another case of confected Twitter outrage?

React Now

  • Get to the point
Read Next
IDF soldiers and vehicles in an image provided by campaign group Breaking the Silence  

'Any person you see – shoot to kill': The IDF doctrine which causes the death of innocent Palestinians

Ron Zaidel
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong

Frankie Boyle
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before