University Challenge: Amol Rajan ‘excited’ to take over from Jeremy Paxman as quiz show’s new host

Paxman presented his final episode after 29 years in May

Isobel Lewis
Wednesday 05 July 2023 12:06 BST
Watch: Paxman signs off University Challenge for final time after 29 years

Amol Rajan has shared his “excitement” to take over as the new host of University Challenge for the first time this month.

The popular BBC quiz show, which features competing university teams, will return to screens on 17 July.

Journalist and broadcaster Rajan, 40, was announced last year as a replacement presenter following the departure of longtime host Jeremy Paxman.

The veteran broadcaster fronted the show for 29 years, but presented his final show in May, two years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Speaking ahead of his tenure as the host of University Challenge, Rajan said: “We’re back! I’m so excited to watch along with audiences and relive this wonderful series and what a wonderful series it is, with thrilling finishes and standards as high as ever.”

Tackling the tough questions will be 28 new student teams from universities across the country, all the way from Aberdeen to Southampton.

The show has a new set and title sequence, but its format will remain the same, with contestants expected to buzz in and answer questions that range from aromatic compounds to philosopher Zeno of Citium.

Rajan is the third person to present the main series of the programme in its 61-year history. Before Paxman, Bamber Gascoigne launched the quiz in 1962.

Rajan with the Manchester team

Rajan presents Radio 4’s flagship Today programme and has also hosted BBC podcasts on subjects including education, climate change, fairness and population.

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In 2020, Rajan appeared as a contestant on a celebrity Christmas special of University Challenge, but his team from Downing College, Cambridge, lost to Durham University.

In May 2021, Paxman announced he was being treated for Parkinson’s but said his symptoms were “currently mild”.

It was revealed in an ITV documentary that his doctor diagnosed him with the disease after noticing that he was less “exuberant” on University Challenge.

Paxman said: “It turned out that he had been watching University Challenge and had noticed that my face had acquired what’s known as the ‘Parkinson Mask’.”

University Challenge returns Monday 17 July at 8.30pm on BBC Two.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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