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Paxman failed University Challenge

Jeremy Paxman has revealed that he tried out for University Challenge as a student - but failed to get into the team.

The famously abrasive presenter, 61, who has hosted University Challenge for 17 years, was not picked to join his fellow students because he was unable to answer the questions.

He told the Radio Times: "I did have a go. I didn't get chosen! There was a quiz going on one night to choose a team for University Challenge. I remember going along with a couple of friends, sitting in the common room and failing to answer questions, therefore failing to get selected for the team."

When Ann Widdecombe, who was interviewing the Newsnight host for the magazine, said she had also been rejected for her college team, Jeremy, who admitted that "half the time" he slept during lectures, told her: "It doesn't reflect at all on your general knowledge or your mental ability.

"It is a very particular thing, playing a quiz."

Asked why men, rather than women, tend to go for quizzes, Cambridge graduate Jeremy said: "I don't know. Is it competitiveness? Is it... No, I'm not going to go any further, actually."

He added: "I'm not being politically correct about it - I might make observations that are not kind."

He said there will "of course" come a point when he has to step down from the BBC2 show, which used to be presented by Bamber Gascoigne, because "they'll say 'Let's get rid of this old person'".

He said of the programme: "The questions have got more difficult, there's no argument about that, because students know a lot more now."

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