Belfast Telegraph

Paxman baffled by beard palaver

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman has laughed off the fuss caused by his beard - saying that he may keep it.

The broadcaster's appearance raised eyebrows when he fronted the BBC Two current affairs show with a crop of noticeable new facial hair.

Paxman, 63, said that many at the BBC are pogonophobic - have a fear of beards - but that it was up to him whether he would revert back to his usual appearance or not.

He said: "I have grown a beard for the last few summers, and suddenly wondered whether I really needed to shave it off to present Newsnight.

"Unless you're lucky enough to be Uncle Albert on Only Fools And Horses, Demis Roussos or Abu Hamza, the BBC is generally as pogonophobic as the late-lamented Albanian dictator, Enver Hoxha.

"I may keep it or I may shave it off, but I think I'll make my own decision."

But his former Newsnight colleague Martha Kearney broadcast a 1997 Newsnight exchange onn Radio 4's World At One that showed Paxman's conflicting feelings for beards.

Paxman asked Kearney: "Why has he put Frank Dobson in charge of health, which he thinks allegedly is so important?"

When Kearney replied that it was because of Dobson's record in the shadow cabinet, Paxman replied: "But he's got a beard."

Paxman's appearance sparked comment on Twitter, where the broadcaster's fellow presenter Emily Maitlis tweeted: "Right that's it. I'm working on a moustache for Thursday's Newsnight."

Crime writer Ian Rankin wrote: "It is 1973 and I'm really digging the new album by Paxman's Beard."

Presenter Kirstie Allsopp wrote: "Paxo with a beard is like me going blonde, there are just some things that are not meant to be."

Comedian Jenny Eclair said: "I like Paxman's beard, looks like he might ride a Harley come the weekend."

Broadcaster Danny Baker said: "I really do not think Jeremy Paxman should be granted a beard. It's corrupt. Disney had it right. Hey BBC - no news beards."

He added: "Do you think a single person in the news room had the balls to say 'Hey Jeremy. The beard. You look f***ing ridiculous'."

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