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Amol Rajan named as new University Challenge host as Jeremy Paxman exits

Long-time presenter Paxman announced his intention to step down from the role earlier this week.

Amol Rajan
BBC
Published: Thursday, 18th August 2022 at 10:20 am
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The BBC has announced that journalist and broadcaster Amol Rajan will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman as the new host of University Challenge after the long-time presenter revealed his intention to depart the show.

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Rajan, who has been the BBC’s Media Editor since December 2016 and is also a presenter of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, will begin presenting the popular quiz show in 2023.

The appointment will see him step down as Media Editor at BBC News later in the year, but he will stay on as a presenter on the Today programme and will also continue his BBC Two series Amol Rajan Interviews.

Speaking of his appointment, Rajan said: "Being asked to host my favourite TV programme is dream-come-true territory.

"I have watched University Challenge obsessively for years, addicted to its high standards, glorious title music, and inspirational contestants. It’s the best possible antidote to cynicism about young people, allowing millions of us to test our wits against the best minds of a new generation, and annoy and impress our families by barking answers from the sofa."

He also paid tribute to Paxman's impressive 28-year stint in the role and wrote that both the departing host and original presenter Bamber Gascoigne left him with "vast shoes to fill".

"With his immense intellect, authority, and respect from students and viewers alike, Jeremy hands over a format, and show, as strong as ever," he said.

"I won’t stop thinking today about my late, beloved Dad, whose devotion to education brought him to England, whose love of knowledge I imbibed as a kid, and whose belief in the noble challenge of university so shaped my life.

"I’ll devote my first Starter for 10 to him – and to the millions of quiz fiends who, like me, love those rare occasions when they know the answer before the students do."

The BBC's Director of Unscripted, Kate Phillips, said that Rajan's "experience, expertise and sense of humour" made him the perfect fit for the role and added: "If future student contestants think they’ll get an easier ride with Amol taking over, they can think again."

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Meanwhile, the show's Executive Producer Peter Gwyn added: "The University Challenge production team is thrilled to be working with Amol as he takes the programme forward next year. We've long admired him as an outstanding journalist and broadcaster – especially as he had the guts to play for his own college in our Christmas series a few years ago."

Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge
Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge. BBC

In announcing his decision to step down earlier in the week, Paxman explained: "I’ve had a blast hosting this wonderful series for nearly 29 years. I’ve been lucky enough to work with an amazing team and to meet some of the swottier brains in the country. It gives me hope for the future."

Paxman first took on the role in 1994 for a revived series following Bamber Gascoigne's stint between 1962 and 1987.

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