Cigars, claret and jelly babies – how David Dimbleby and Jeremy Paxman stay up on election night

Paxo is preparing for a very boozy night of broadcasting waiting for the 2015 General Election result

They’re the big beasts of election nights, the broadcasters who somehow make the prospect of staying up until four in the morning to watch the count from Clacton interesting. But David Dimbleby and Jeremy Paxman have admitted that even they need a little chemical stimulus to get them through the night.


The two men revealed to BBC Newsnight how they prepare for the big night, and joked about what helps keep them awake.

Dimbleby, who’s presenting his final general election night, says, “I smoke the odd cigar and ruminate a lot” to prepare for the marathon broadcast.

Paxman, who will be hosting his first ‘alternative’ election night for Channel 4, jokes that only booze can keep him going through the night: “I like to start with a glass of chablis at about 10 o’clock, and then move on to a bottle or three of claret around midnight.” 

The two of them also have clear ideas when it comes to election night snacks. “Banana is very good for some reason,” Dimbleby says, “I learned this from space flights.”

“Jelly babies are absolutely key,” reveals Paxman. “Absolutely key. You’ve got to eat a lot of jelly babies to keep awake.”


But Dimbleby says he’d never pop pills to keep him pepped up. “Some people think you take some kind of pill to keep you alert and awake. I wouldn’t dream of doing that – you’d fly. I wouldn’t want to fly during the programme. I just have to keep alert!”

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