Yesterday we all heard the news that after 25 years Jeremy Paxman was stepping down from his role as presenter of BBC Two’s Newsnight.
Politicians throughout the UK will no doubt all be breathing a sigh of relief at this news, as Paxman was known for his no nonsense approach to interviews. Some hardened politicians reportedly refused to appear on the programme when he was presenting while others got on with it and tried to hold their own against his relentless quest for a politician to just answer the question!
Talking about his talent as an interviewer, the director general of the BBC, Tony Hall said: “He has a unique ability to create moments of real discomfort for politicians and memorable delight for audiences.”
As a B2B PR agency, we regular run media training sessions for our customers to teach them how to handle media questions. We often show a recording of Jeremy Paxman’s interview technique to demonstrate the importance of preparing for an interview and to help our delegates realise that however tough a journalist’s line of questioning seems to be, at least they’re not in front of Paxman.
My favourite Paxman interview and perhaps the one that he is best known for among the countless he is famous for is with Michael Howard in 1997. In a discussion about his relationship with the former head of the Prison Service, Derek Lewis, Paxman famously had to ask Howard the same question 12 times to get an answer out of him. You can watch that famous TV moment here.