Jeremy Paxman to step down as University Challenge host after 28 years

Jeremy Paxman is to step down as the host of University Challenge after 28 years, the BBC has announced

Published Last updated

He has presented the quiz show since 1994 and will film his last episode in autumn, with his final series of the programme airing on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer from August 29 through to summer 2023.

The journalist and broadcaster, 72, said: “I’ve had a blast hosting this wonderful series for nearly 29 years.

“I’ve been lucky enough to work with an amazing team and to meet some of the swottier brains in the country. It gives me hope for the future.”

Kate Phillips, the BBC’s director of unscripted, said: “Since the BBC revived University Challenge in 1994 Jeremy has been at the front and centre of the show’s success and is without doubt one of the world’s finest, and most formidable quizmasters.

“We are hugely grateful to Jeremy for his dedication to the programme for an incredible 28 years, he will be much missed by us all and the show’s millions of viewers.”

Jeremy Paxman has hosted University Challenge for 28 years
Jeremy Paxman has hosted University Challenge for 28 years

University Challenge’s executive producer Peter Gwyn said: “Jeremy has been our presenter, colleague and friend for 28 years, and everyone on the University Challenge production team will miss him greatly.

“He’ll be sorely missed too by both our audience and by the generations of students who’ve relished the chance to pit themselves against him in more than a thousand matches.”

The new presenter of the programme, which pits students in teams of four against rival universities and colleges with questions including “starters for 10”, will be announced later this week, the BBC said.

University Challenge first aired in 1962 hosted by Bamber Gascoigne and this year celebrates its 60th anniversary as the Britain’s longest running TV quiz show.

University Challenge first aired in 1962
University Challenge first aired in 1962

To mark the occasion, a special documentary will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer on Monday August 29 at 9pm.

Born in Leeds, Paxman started his career in 1972 on the BBC’s graduate trainee programme, working in local radio and reporting on the Troubles in Belfast.

Shortly after moving to London in 1977, he transferred from Tonight to investigative flagship programme Panorama, before stints on the Six O’Clock News and BBC One’s Breakfast Time.

He became a presenter of Newsnight in 1989, a position he would hold until June 2014 during which time he interviewed high-profile figures from politics and culture.

Bowing out after 25 years, Paxman presented a Newsnight programme including an interview with then-London mayor Boris Johnson, while they both rode a tandem bicycle.

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