The BBC announced today that Amol Rajan would succeed Jeremy Paxman as presenter of University Challenge starting in the fall of 2023.
The new position is a significant advancement for the BBC rising star, who takes over for Paxman after he stood down as the show’s presenter after 28 years, ending his record-setting tenure as the longest-tenured quizmaster on UK TV.
The 39-year-old has presented the Today show on BBC Radio 4 since May 2021 and has served as the BBC’s media editor since December 2016. He has further been on The One Show and BBC Radio 2.
During his tenure at the organisation, Rajan, who has previously written freely about his republican ideas, has been embroiled in a number of disputes.
He angered the Royal Family last year by defending a BBC programme that was criticised as misleading regarding Prince William and Harry’s interactions with the media.
His “world exclusive” interview with tennis pro Novak Djokovic earlier this year came under fire for disclosing the Serbian star’s anti-vax sentiments.
Being chosen to host my favourite TV show is the stuff of dreams, remarked Rajan today.
I’ve been hooked to University Challenge’s high standards, beautiful theme music, and motivational candidates for years.
It allows millions of us to pit our wits against the brightest brains of a new generation and irritate and dazzle our family by shouting answers from the couch. It is the finest conceivable antidote to scepticism about young people.
Rajan was paid between £325,000 and £329,999 per year, according to the BBC’s 2021/22 annual report, and is certain to get a raise as the presenter of University Challenge. Since September 2013, he has been married to Charlotte Faircloth, with whom he has three kids.
The BBC show, which debuted in 1962 with presenter Bamber Gascoigne, will have Rajan as its third host.
He stated, “I am quite mindful that with the late, great Bamber, and that titan of British culture, Jeremy, I have big shoes to fill,” in a homage to prior presenters.
Jeremy gives over a concept and a programme that are as strong as ever because to his enormous knowledge, authority, and respect from students and spectators alike.
“Today, I won’t stop thinking about my late, cherished Dad, whose commitment to education took him to England, whose love of learning I absorbed as a child, and whose faith in the noble challenge of higher education so profoundly influenced my life.
I’ll dedicate my first Starter for 10 to him and the millions of quiz addicts who, like me, enjoy the few moments when they know the solution before the pupils.
Around 2006, Rajan began his media career as a researcher on the daytime talk programme The Wright Stuff.
He began working at The Independent newspaper in 2007 and held a number of positions there for many years, including those of news and sports reporter, columnist, and comment editor, until taking over as editor in June 2013.
Rajan’s appointment as editor of a major national daily created Fleet Street history since he was the first person of colour to hold that position. Rajan started hosting The Media Show in May 2017 after being named the BBC’s first Media Editor in November 2016.
He will now resign from his position as media editor, start shooting early in 2019, and start appearing on screens in the fall of 2023. Both the Today programme and the Amol Rajan Interviews show will continue to include him as a presenter.
The Princes and the Press, Buckingham Palace, a documentary on William and Harry’s interactions with the media, was criticised by the Royal Family earlier this year.
Following its broadcast, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, and Clarence House issued an unified statement in which they criticised the BBC for “lending legitimacy” to “overblown and baseless assertions from anonymous sources.” This was an unprecedented action.
At the time, the BBC defended the programme, stating that it “featured interviews with a variety of print and broadcast reporters who follow the royals closely and heard their perspectives on the connection the press has with the royal family and what impacts the stories that are published.”
The Duchess of Sussex also filed a complaint with the BBC after hearing about a podcast, Harry, Meghan And The Media, that was produced to go along with the BBC2 broadcast and claimed Meghan Markle had apologised for “misleading” the High Court.
The network said that the Duchess of Sussex had requested that it “clarify” that she had, in fact, apologised for “not remembering” to invite her former PR head to assist with the contentious royal memoir Finding Freedom.
Prior to this, she has denied helping with the initiative.
She had “no desire to deceive the court on this,” according to the BBC.
Rajan, a former editor of The Independent, was pressured into issuing an apology after making offensive statements about the royal family in 2012 while writing for the publication.
He referred to Prince Philip as a “racist clown” and labelled the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s public persona a “complete farce.”
Following the broadcast of the documentary, when the comments reappeared, he tweeted: “In regard to very valid queries about some silly opinion from a prior life, I want to say I truly regret it.
I wrote several things that I now regret writing because they were crude and immature, and I honestly wonder what I was thinking at the time.
As soon as it was revealed Rajan had previously termed the notion of monarchy “absurd,” the BBC was accused of being biassed in choosing him for the position, even before the contentious programme was shown.
He stated: “Journalists are so misled by aristocratic money when it comes to our ludicrous monarchy that they can only provide a confected image to their audience.”
Mrs. Wales is a lovely woman who does good work; spare us the “Duchess of Cambridge.” She does not, however, look her best when she is hungover and, like the rest of us, is prone to foul moods and bad breath.
‘From reading about her in the news, you wouldn’t know that. Instead of a person, what you get is an idol. I have nothing at all against Catherine Middleton, Prince William, Prince Harry, or the Queen.
I despise other royals, especially Prince Philip and the intellectually uneducated Prince Charles, who support policies that will cause millions of Africans to starve to death.
Additionally, Rajan has been embroiled in various scandals. His “world exclusive” interview with tennis pro Novak Djokovic earlier this year drew fire for expressing the Serbian star’s anti-vax beliefs.
The tennis pro spoke about the confusion around his Australian visa being revoked in advance of the Australian Open in January owing to his vaccination status.
At the time of the interview, it was said that corporate insiders were worried about the interview and Rajan’s apparent “chumminess” with Djokovic.
The BBC said that several viewers complained that the interview was overemphasised and that it was “irresponsible” to highlight his opinions on the vaccination.
In response to the complaints, a BBC representative stated: “Our news editors judged that the interview was of genuine significance and was of interest to our audience, particularly in light of what transpired in the lead-up to the Australian Open in January. The BBC’s exclusive interview is the first time Novak Djokovic has spoken about his position himself.”
We recognise that not everyone will agree with our selection of article running orders, but we believe that this has been a significant continuing news event that also touches on important topics like required immunisation and foreign travel limitations.
“There are still a lot of individuals who decide against being vaccinated, so we believe it’s essential to hear from everyone who has an opinion.”
However, throughout our coverage of this topic, the BBC has consistently stated the scientific and medical consensus about vaccination and its efficacy.
It follows the announcement on Tuesday that Paxman, who has hosted University Challenge for 28 years, would stand down from the position, breaking the record for the longest tenured quizmaster currently working on UK television.
The 72-year-old, who was given a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis last year, has hosted the programme since the BBC brought it back in 1994.
This fall, he will tape his last episode, and from Monday, August 29, through the summer of 2023, his final season will run on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.
Later this week, a new presenter will be introduced.
The broadcaster and journalist said: “I’ve enjoyed presenting this fantastic programme for over 29 years.
I’ve had the good fortune to work with a fantastic team and get to know some of the smartest people in the nation. I have hope for the future because of it.
After 25 years as its host, Mr. Paxman departed the BBC’s Newsnight programme in June 2014.
He made his Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis public in May of last year. He said that after seeing him playing University Challenge during lockdown, his doctor got him checked for the fatal ailment.
The seasoned host confessed that he often fell, one of which left him with “black eyes,” and that it was “extremely difficult to realise you’re not going to get better.”
Elizabeth Clough, the mother of Mr. Paxman’s three children, and he were in a 34-year relationship until she was dumped in favour of book editor Jillian Taylor in 2017.
Mr. Paxman, a Leeds native, began his career as a graduate trainee for the BBC in 1972, working in local radio and covering the Troubles in Belfast.
He moved from Tonight to the flagship investigative show Panorama shortly after relocating to London in 1977, followed by appearances on the Six O’Clock News and BBC One’s Breakfast Time.
In 1989, he started working as a Newsnight presenter, a job he held until June 2014 and used to conduct high-profile political and cultural interviews in.
After 25 years, Mr. Paxman announced his retirement by hosting a Newsnight programme that included an interview with the former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, while the two rode tandem bicycles.
The longest-running TV quiz show in Britain, University Challenge had its debut in 1962 under the hostship of Bamber Gascoigne.
This year, the programme marks its 60th anniversary.
On Monday, August 29 at 9 p.m., a special documentary will be shown on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer to commemorate the event.
In May 2021, Mr. Paxman said that he was receiving Parkinson’s treatment, but that his symptoms were “currently minor.”
ITV announced a programme earlier this month in which Mr. Paxman will discuss his diagnosis and interact with leading researchers.
In a newspaper interview last year, Mr. Paxman spoke openly about being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
The host said to The Sunday Times Magazine that he kept tripping and being harmed, leading to wounds, bruises, black eyes, and “blood everywhere.”
He did, however, confess to the newspaper that he didn’t believe he had Parkinson’s since he believed the condition only showed itself via tremors of the body.
I kept tripping over, I blamed the dog for crawling under my feet, but after the final time I fell down, straight on my face, it was a genuine disaster – black eyes, wounds, and blood everywhere – and I thought, “This isn’t right,” he recalled.ko
You have Parkinson’s, the doctor informed me. I had never thought about it before. I wondered, “Parkinson’s what?” he continued.
Parkinson’s disease symptoms start off moderate and become progressively worse over time.
According to the NHS, the illness may also cause delayed movement and rigid, inflexible muscles in addition to the involuntary tremors that most people identify with it.
Speaking on his illness, Paxman, who penned a new book titled Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain during lockdown, stated that people could only ‘adjust’ but acknowledged that he finds the disease to be unexpected.
“How you feel now doesn’t always reflect how you will feel tomorrow. Sometimes you feel alert, other times you feel drowsy.”
He stated, “It’s incredibly bothersome,” adding that he often felt exhausted.
“Parkinson’s is incurable; you have to live with it.” That is challenging. It’s quite difficult to realise that things won’t get better. He said, “You think you will, but you don’t.”
The broadcaster, who has three adult children with his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Clough, said he refused to be “beaten down” by the illness and expressed optimism that it would not render him completely helpless.
The diagnosis, he said, had made him sad, but he didn’t think it was a string of symptoms.
The speaker said that he was wary of support groups and didn’t want to join one.
However, he did promise that after his passing, Parkinson’s UK will get a brain donation to aid in their research.