Paxman's starter for 10: Can he really answer all the University Challenge questions?
Get a question wrong on University Challenge, and you face the scorn of Jeremy Paxman.
But the show's grand inquisitor has admitted that he tests himself on all the questions before each week's recording, and knows barely 50 per cent of the answers.
What's more: he cheats. Appearing at the Hay Festival, Paxman faced a taxing question of his own when a member of the public asked: "On University Challenge, you are at somewhat of an advantage over the students in so far as you have the answers. Can you tell us how many you actually know the answer to?"
"All of them, of course," replied Paxman, but then he came clean. I'll be quite frank with you, there are some of them where I don't even understand the question," he said, before divulging details of his pre-show preparation.
"During the production process, things go backwards and forwards. When we get to a refined stage and draft questions come, in I always print them out and I cover the answer with a piece of paper. And I then read the question and try to answer it
"And then very often move the paper down a bit and say, 'Oh, of course it is!'"
"So I can't give you an honest answer but it clearly wouldn't be 100%. In fact, I'd be very surprised if it's more than about 50% or 60%. I can't be accurate about it, but I'd be happy to sit a test."
In previous interviews, Paxman has said University Challenge contestants should not be regarded as "nerdy" because they possess such a wealth of knowledge.
But yesterday he said: "They're nerdy. So what?" He added: "I like students. I'm amazed by what they know and sometimes amazed by what they don't know. You should know more as you get older, but of course speed of retrieval is less acute."
The former Newsnight presenter said he did not miss the programme, but there remain some world leaders he would like to interview.
His dream interviewee would be the Pope and he "would love to have a go" at grilling Donald Trump.
But he said: "I don't like the media class sneering about Trump. I don't share his politics on many things but he was elected under that cockamamie system that they've got and we should respect that."
In a wide-ranging interview with the comedian Marcus Brigstocke, Paxman also addressed the subject of underpants.
In 2008, he sparked a national debate when he complained about the poor quality of Marks & Spencer socks and pants, saying they wore out too quickly.
Having considered the subject at some length, Paxman has now conceded M&S is not at fault. "I would be very interested to know how many people here today know how old their underpants are.
"Because you should know. All pants, all underwear, all clothing, when you put it through the wash of course it gets a bit of wear-and-tear. So all pants should be sold with a use-by date," he declared.