Jeremy Paxman is seemingly determined to make the last month of his Newsnight residence the most explosive of his career.
Tonight (Tuesday 20 May), he’ll briefly render Silvio Berlusconi a mute with a probing question about an insult he allegedly hurled in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s direction in conversation with a news editor back in 2011.
“Do you have a problem with Angela Merkel?” Paxman poses to the former Italian Prime Minister.
“Is it true you called Angela Merkel an ‘un****able lard-a**e?’”
Wide-eyed, dumbfounded and oddly gesticulating, Berlusconi can all but shrug his shoulders as Paxman quietly awaits his reply.
Cunningly, the clip stops just short of said reply, therefore encouraging potential viewers to cancel their evening plans and tune into BBC 2 at 22.30 to find out.
And the rest of the interview is set to cover similarly controversial territory. Berlusconi was found guilty of tax fraud in 2013, sentenced to four years in prison and ejected from his Senate seat as a result.
His conviction, however, came after years of successfully dodging corruption allegations and brushing off lewd sex scandals – one of which he was sentenced to seven years for having sex with an underage prostitute.
The latter is currently being appealed by Berlusconi’s lawyers, while the former sentence has been reduced to just one year of community service.
This year, he has returned to the very centre of Italy’s political stage. And just last week, his involvement with the Sicilian mafia more than two decades ago was confirmed.
Meanwhile, Paxman announced he was leaving the current affairs show after 25 years as presenter at the end of April. His last episode will air in June.