The veteran presenter and professional cynic has quit BBC Two's Newsnight amid rumours that he had been ‘pining like a dog on heat’ for the acerbic lothario, Russell Brand. Jeremy Paxman (63) has confessed privately to colleagues that since his fateful meeting with the comedian on 23 October 2013, he has been unable to ‘sleep’, ‘wash’ or ‘sneer at Nick Clegg’. Described by the Director General, Tony Hall, as a once ‘rare and dazzling talent’; Paxman will more likely be remembered for his insipid poems, lovelorn sighs to camera and his knuckle tattoo of ‘I ♥ RB’.
Viewers have noted many of his recent interviews have been interrupted by a constant checking of his mobile phone for missed calls or messages. His outbursts of frustration or anger for the smallest thing have been seen as a clear indication of a ‘broken heart’, a ‘rejection of two party politics’ and the onset of ‘irritable bowel syndrome’. One newsreader commented: ‘It’s not untypical to get besotted with the interviewee. Michael Parkinson embarked on a tempestuous affair with Rod Hull’s Emu in the late 70s. There was egg on his face when it came to an end’.
A spokesman for James Harding, head of news, said Paxman was ‘a great lion of BBC journalism’ but ‘a gentle pussycat’ in the bejewelled hands of philandering Brand. Even his vain attempts to grow a matching beard, showed how enthralled Paxman had become to these ‘rakish charms’. The BBC confirmed that he will continue to host University Challenge but insisted he must start asking questions other than ‘Whose your favourite star in Forgetting Sarah Marshall?’, ‘Can Transcendental Meditation lead to true love?’ and ‘What’s the alarm code to Russell’s house?’
Only a year ago Brand had electrified the elderly newscaster with the promise of ‘revolution’, ‘free love’ and ‘an end to razor blades’. Since then his man crush has gone unrequited, despite attempts to dress as a Katy Perry look-a-like on weekends. Only last week, Kirsty Wark has spoke of her concern at Paxman’s ‘loss of appetite’, feelings of ‘isolation’ and repeatedly singing ‘Cryin’ in two part harmony with Roy Orbison.