Jeremy Paxman leaves Newsnight: his top seven moments

Jun 19, 2014

As Jeremy Paxman steps down as inquisitor in chief, we review some of his most memorable battles

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Jeremy Paxman presented his final Newsnight last night after 25 years of badgering interviewees into revealing more than they intended.

Paxman announced his departure from the BBC Two programme in April, saying he wanted to "go to bed at much the same time as most people".

On Tuesday night's programme, the former Conservative party chairman Lord Saatchi gave the presenter a first edition of The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek, asking him to accept it "on behalf of all of your victims".

Paxman's final appearance on the show featured the presenter and Mayor of London Boris Johnson riding together on a tandem. The two have more often been seen pulling in opposite directions during combative exchanges in the Newsnight studio.

And former home secretary Michael Howard made a brief cameo appearance in which he finally answered that question.

"Did you threaten to overrule him?"

In Paxman’s most notorious interview, he asks Michael Howard, who was at the time Home Secretary, the same question 12 times. All together now: "Did you threaten to overrule him?"

Tony Blair and the Express

Former prime minister Tony Blair was left squirming in 2002 after insisting that Richard Desmond's Daily Express was a suitable donor for the Labour party. Paxman proceeds to list a number of pornographic publications also owned by Desmond's company.

The worst ministerial interview? 

After the unravelling of one of the "most shambolic budgets in memory" in 2012, Chancellor George Osborne sent junior minister Chloe Smith to defend the government's position. "Do you ever think you’re incompetent?" is one of the less hostile questions she faces.

The weather on Newsnight

"It’s April, what do you expect?": Paxman regularly mocked a weather update introduced at the end of the programme a few years ago. Needless to say, it was soon dropped from the running order.

Paxman v Russell Brand

Comedian Russell Brand met Paxman for a lively discussion about revolution, voting, and even beards. Paxman subsequently revealed that he did not vote, and was criticised for appearing to side with Brand's apathetic view of politics.

Paxman grills "crook" Conrad: 

Paxman labels Conrad Black, a former media baron convicted of fraud in America, a "crook" and a "criminal" several times before Black loses his cool and threatens to punch Paxman.

Dizzy Rascal: Hip hop helped Obama

Awkward silences follow this bizarre interview between Paxman and Dizzee Rascal, addressed by Paxman as "Mr Rascal", as the rapper attempts to explain how hip hop propelled Barack Obama to victory in 2008.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

Funny what people regard as good. His childish display when interviewing Michael Howard greatly lowered my opinion of him. His lack of brutality towards Russell Brand did the same. There were other bad times but overall I guess he was pretty good.

...he performed to the gallery - knowing that, ultimately, he was beyond sanction. Personally, I found him to be over-wheeningly narcissistic.

Yes - he did allow that immature and self-indulgent prat, Russell Brand, to hog the limelight - not once, in that interview, to my recollection, did Paxman mention Jonathan Ross and Brand's disgusting behaviour in the Andrew Sachs debacle - why not?!!