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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK
Jeremy Paxman biography
Jeremy Paxman
Newsnight presenters are all kept in a cupboard in the corner of the room. The ones at the back (John Tusa, Peter Snow, et al) have not been taken out and wired up for several years.

Among those most frequently lifted off his hanger and dusted down before being put in front of the camera, the most long-serving is Jeremy Paxman. He has presented Newsnight since 1989.

After a stint making the tea on Radio Brighton, his journalistic career began in Northern Ireland, where he covered the Troubles for three years.

He was a reporter on Tonight and then for five years on Panorama, where assignments took him all over the world.

After a few undistinguished months of Reading Aloud on the Six O'Clock News, he became a presenter in the mid-80s, working first on the regional news programme London Plus (known within the building as "Sod Off Kent") and then on the BBC's Breakfast Time.

For four years he presented Start the Week on Radio Four before deciding that he didn't like getting up that early in the morning. He has chaired University Challenge since 1994, where his capacity for mispronouncing Italian has led to frequent complaints.

His books include Friends in High Places; Fish, Fishing and the Meaning of Life; The English; The Political Animal and On Royalty, some of which are almost readable.

The scion of a long line of illiterate peasants and benefit scroungers, he was born in Leeds, educated in Worcestershire and took a degree (in English, although it does not sound to be his first language) at St Catharine's College, Cambridge.

Even more unexpectedly, he has some honorary degrees, fellowships and awards.

He would probably have been better suited to a career as a turnip farmer.

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