Culture House Daily

Jeremy Paxman’s last Newsnight made me want to be sick

19 June 2014

Did you not threaten to overrule him, Paxman? Did you not threaten to overrule your editor when he told you that he was going to let you finish your career in such an embarrassing and God-awful fashion that you’d end up looking like more of a nipple than Boris Johnson? Did you? Answer the question. Did you not threaten to overrule him? Did you? DID YOU? You should have.

A friend of mine admitted that he wept – wept! – as the credits rolled last night. I was split on the matter; weep or vomit, weep or vomit. Actually, I wasn’t sure whether to weep, vomit or breathe a sigh of relief. For if this had been just a regular episode of Newsnight, Paxman would surely have been fired.

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The problem with last night is that it presumed that someone who is a genius at one very specific thing must also be a genius at everything else. And though Paxman is undoubtedly a giant at monstering his fellow man, there’s not much evidence that he’s good at anything else, like being funny, likeable or clever. He’s just a bastard. A very great bastard, who doesn’t care if you’re the leader of the country or about to fly to the moon. He’s probably the best bastard the world’s seen since whoever started the Spanish Inquisition.

And so when his editor thrust him into various positions where he was forced to do something other than be a bastard – such as be funny on a tandem (which has never been a funny scenario to put anyone through even when they did it on Last of the Summer Wine) – he came across a loser. Only at the end, with the start of the valedictory music (which the editor clearly hadn’t okayed with Paxo) did Paxman’s professionalism return and his face re-assume its usual why-am-I-surrounded-by-such-cretins look.

The worry is that he’s now earned enough brownie points for him to live out the rest of his days cashing in on all the good-will and make our life a misery by never properly retiring, becoming a ‘national treasure’ and forcing the BBC to let him make a 500-episode documentary on his sock collection. In other words, he’s played a total blinder – as you’d expect of any world-class bastard.

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Show comments
  • Terry Field

    I watched the Snow conversation with Paxman – God Paxman summed up the absurd arrogance of Snow in a couple of sentences – he is as obnoxious as he always was – and Paxman spotted the egomania in no time!!!
    Good for Paxman.

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    Perhaps he was under contract to do exactly what he was told in order to get the final that old black and white film about the family inheritance.

  • Liz

    A whole career built on one really poor interview with Michael Howard.

  • CharleyFarleyFive

    I would agree with other comments here, whilst Paxman was considerably better than most of the dross on television, he can’t hold a candle to Andrew Neil.

    • La Fold

      Got to admit ive always had a soft spot for Andrew Neil, especially since he skewered Dianne Abbot about private schooling her children.

      • CharleyFarleyFive

        Wonderful television.

  • commenteer

    Don’t you think it’s rather the opposite? Paxman was an entertaining, charismatic presenter on Newsnight, but not much cop as an interviewer. The clips from his interviews resurrected this week illustrated that quite clearly. He makes very good documentaries, however.

  • Wessex Man

    and it’s goodnight to him and good riddance!

  • Bonkim

    I like Jeremy Paxman but his time is now passed – Nothing is permanent. Good luck Jeremy and I am sure we will watch your next production whatever it is.

  • La Fold

    Pffft, your average brickie or joiner on any building site would out monster him!

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Looking forward to his upcoming DMAX shows ‘Borage Wars’ When Allotments Go Bad!! and ‘Top 100 African Kleptomaniacs’.

  • manonthebus

    I have never seen the attraction. Like John Humphrys on Radio 4, Jeremy Paxman is just simply a very rude man. I haven’t watched Newsnight for many years because Paxman and the other left-wing oddities put me off with their constant interruptions. At that time of night, a good book is a better way of spending my time.

    • Liz

      John Humphries is just a monstrous bbc luvvie, and not a very well-informed one, he frequently doesn’t have a clue what his interviewees are talking about and gets the wrong end of the stick and you can tell that a lot of the time he is reading questions pinged to him by his producers.

  • Tron

    I did laugh when he turned to Michael Howard and said “did you?” – MH – “Yes”.

    Paxo is over-rated as an interviewer because he didn’t do his homework. Andrew Neil is much better because he has the facts and the quotes to hand to cut through the spin.
    How could Paxo have done Newsnight for the first 10 years of New Labour and never once asked about the national debt?

    • arnoldo87

      Because the national debt was not a problem during the first 10 years of New Labour. It was at all times better than the debt level left by the Tories in 1997.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        And the massive structural deficit? That was the Tories presumably. Oh, I forgot, it started in America blah blah blah. Except that we now know, because even Ed Balls has acknowledged it, that it had reached £72 Billion by 2006. Doubtless, the banking regulatory regime of Brown and Balls is the model every country should follow despite the first banking failures in the UK for nearly 150 years.

        • arnoldo87

          Sorry, Inverted – the structural deficit in the first ten years, according to ONS, was also lower than the deficit levels achieved by John Major’s government. Even if you accept the revised number of £72 billion in 2006 (and I am taking your word for that rather than the ONS data, which has it at £33.1 billion), it is STILL lower in real terms than the worst three years of Major.
          Look it up and learn.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            It ended up as the largest structural deficit in peacetime history. Brown was spending surpluses a the top of the economic cycle which might have been used to combat the recession when it inevitably arrived. Doubtless, you believe he really did end Boob n bust or perhaps he never even made that claim. Dishonesty is after all the language of the left.

    • Tron

      Sorry MH said “No, Jeremy, I didn’t”
      But who cares, the political bubble is such fun for the people in it.

    • davidshort10

      Andrew Neil is useless and he is also very bad TV. He thinks he is funny and he is not. He thinks he’s charming and he is not. He is grim, right wing and ugly. And I do wonder why the BBC bring him on so very frequently when they should surely use staffers and therefore spend the licence fee tax more wisely and providently. How much does Brillo Pad cost the BBC? And does he agree with the licence fee, anyway? It is appalling that the BBC funds this thug that was brought into break the unions at the Murdoch press for his pieces of silver.

      • Terry Field

        Right wing is good – not a term of abuse as you attempt to make it.

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