Thursday 18 January 2018

Paxman 'baffled' by 'University Challenge' sexism row

Presenter Jeremy Paxman
Presenter Jeremy Paxman

Laura Harding

Jeremy Paxman said he is "baffled" by the choice of a group of students to boycott 'University Challenge' after they claimed he made "misogynistic and sexist" comments during a taping of the show.

The University of Reading Students' Union has voted to not take part in the BBC Two quiz show after its previous team members complained about the handling of the alleged comments.

The TV presenter (66) said he thinks the "issue" stems from a conversation during the taping last year when he questioned the Reading team about their mascot, a Jeremy Paxman doll.

"I have racked my brains to discover what on earth the Reading Students' Union is on about," Mr Paxman said.

"I think they're referring to a recording of University Challenge which took place in February 2015, though I am baffled at why it has become an issue a year-and-a-half later.

"There was a technical fault which meant we had to interrupt the recording, leaving all of us sitting at our desks in the studio while the problem was sorted out in the control gallery.

"In the conversation to fill the void - in a brightly lit studio, in front of all eight contestants, a full studio crew and an audience of several hundred spectators - I asked the Reading team about the mascot sitting on their desk.

"One of them said it was a hand-knitted Jeremy Paxman doll. Across the several yards separating the chairman's desk from the teams, I asked the whole team whether they took it to bed with them.

"Though no complaint was made at the time, this, apparently, is what has upset them."

Niall Hamilton, Reading University Students' Union education officer, wrote on his blog: "In the most recent round of Change it! students voted to boycott BBC programme 'University Challenge'. This is due to misogynistic and sexist comments made to previous team members of the University of Reading team by Jeremy Paxman."

Irish Independent

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