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Blogs Coffee House

Why Jeremy Paxman quit Newsnight – after 25 years

30 April 2014

6:31 PM

30 April 2014

6:31 PM

After 25 years in the hot seat, Jeremy Paxman is finally stepping down from Newsnight. Following months years of will-he-won’t-he speculation, Newsnight’s star draw has finally had enough. According to the BBC press release:

‘He informed Tony Hall, the Director General, and James Harding, the Director of News and Current Affairs, of his decision last summer, but with the appointment of a new editor and following a difficult period for Newsnight, Jeremy generously agreed to stay to help the new team bed down.’

As Mr Steerpike reported last year, Paxo has not been happy with the BBC — in particular with Ian Katz’s tenure as editor of Newsnight — for some time. The BBC of course, doesn’t believe in radical change and this posed a dilemma for the new editor of Newsnight. Until Paxman went, the BBC couldn’t radically change the programme. Lacking the guts to do anything, Auntie just waited, and waited, until Paxo took the decision for them.

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Paxo’s relationship with his employers has been particularly strained of late. Just a few weeks ago, he hit out at the BBC’s huge size, corporate and cultural attitudes. He told The Guardian:

‘There’s a pile of stuff on the BBC I can’t stand. My idea of hell is going down in one of the lifts in that ghastly new building [New Broadcasting House] in a lift which has Radio 1 Extra plumbed into it. I don’t quite understand why the BBC does Radio 1 Extra.’

Following these remarks, Mr Steerpike understands the presenter received a caustic email from the head of Radio 1 telling him to keep his opinions to himself. The question is now: can Newsnight survive without him?

According to Paddy Power, these are on the odds on who might replace him as the main Newsnight presenter:

  • Laura Kuenssberg – evens
  • Emily Maitlis – 7/1
  • Mishal Husain, Gavin Esler and Eddie Mair – 8/1
  • Kirsty Wark – 9/1
  • Stephen Sackur and James Landale – 14/1

UPDATE:  Potentially successors are already queuing up, including one Piers Morgan. Mr S would give 100/1 odds on that:

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