Belfast Telegraph

Friday 6 March 2015

Paxman: Stop insulting viewers

Jeremy Paxman thinks there is too much dumbing down on TV
Jeremy Paxman thinks there is too much dumbing down on TV

Jeremy Paxman has castigated TV bosses for "insulting" viewers' intelligence.

The Newsnight and University Challenge host criticised TV executives for underestimating their audience and dumbing down TV shows.

Paxman, 63, told the Radio Times: "The main reason I love University Challenge is that it gives the lie to the media stereotype about young people - that they all know nothing, and couldn't care less. It's complete rubbish.

"Every year we see more and more teams of young people who know amazing things, and you're just left wondering in pleasurable disbelief, 'How on earth did they get that?'"

Paxman told the magazine: "Television bosses should stop insulting the public's intelligence by assuming we're all idiots.

"University Challenge pays the audience the courtesy of assuming that we're quite clever enough to take part.

"From what people tell me, it's often played in families - old against young, male against female, those who went to university against those who don't or didn't. It operates on the healthy assumption that learning and being able to work things out are good things."

Paxman boasted that University Challenge, which pits teams of students against each other, had not gone down the route of rival quiz shows by attempting to draw in viewers with easy questions.

"We haven't compromised. It's quite hard and it will stay quite hard. In an age when you can win shedloads of money or fleeting glory by knowing the Chancellor of the Exchequer's first name (even though that one did seem to stump President Obama), our producers have made the questions more difficult than they have ever been," he said.

Paxman, famous for his tough interviewing style, revealed his favourite round in the BBC2 show was one in which students got every single question wrong - when they were asked to identify laundry instruction symbols on clothes labels.

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