Longtime game show host steps down after nearly three decades

Jeremy Paxman, the longtime BBC quiz show host College Challenge, is set to step down after nearly three decades. Paxman, 72, will host his final episode next summer, a role he has held since 1994. The decision comes a year after Paxman announced he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

“I had a blast hosting this wonderful series for nearly 29 years,” Paxman said in a statement Tuesday, reports BBC News. “I’ve been fortunate to work with an incredible team and meet some of the brightest minds in the country. It gives me hope for the future.”

(Photo: David M. Benett/Getty Images for Debrett’s and Audi)

The BBC will name Paxman’s replacement later this week. Kristy Wark, who organized a special charity event for children in need last year, is considered one of the favourites. Samira Ahmed, BBC host also tweeted her interest in the job, noting how she served as a back-up presenter for the past year. She also hosted a BBC2 documentary on the show.

“Jeremy has been our presenter, colleague and friend for 28 years, and everyone on the College Challenge the production team will miss him very much”, College Challenge said executive producer PEter Gwyn in a statement. “He will also be sadly missed by our fans and the generations of students who relished the chance to compete against him in over 1,000 matches.”

Paxman is “without doubt one of the best and most formidable quiz masters in the world”, added Kate Phillips, director of BBC Unscripted. “We are extremely grateful to Jeremy for his dedication to the program for 28 incredible years, he will be greatly missed by all of us and the millions of viewers of the show,” she said.

College Challenge launched in 1962 on ITV, with the late Bamber Gascoigne as host. He hosted the series for over two decades until it ended in 1987. Paxman was hired when the BBC relaunched the series in 1994. Prior to hosting the show, Paxman was a presenter on BBC Two. Newsnightposition he held until 2014. BBC Two will air a documentary celebrating College Challenge60th birthday on August 29.

In May 2021, Paxman said he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. At the time, he said he was receiving “excellent” treatment and had “mild” symptoms. “I plan to continue streaming and writing for as long as they have me,” Paxman said.

Javier E. Swan