Broadcaster, presenter and journalist Jeremy Paxman is to be honoured this week at the 49th annual Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, chosen by journalists who write about television, streaming and audio.

Paxman will receive the BPG’s prestigious Harvey Lee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting at the awards lunch at Royal Horseguards Hotel in Whitehall, London on Friday March 24th. The award is sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery.

The award celebrates Paxman’s 50 years of broadcasting that includes his work on Newsnight, Panorama, Breakfast Time and University Challenge and began with his first job as a graduate trainee at BBC Radio Brighton back in 1972.

From there, Paxman’s remarkable broadcasting career took him to Belfast, where he reported on the conflict in Northern Ireland before moving to London in 1977. Starting on the Tonight programme, he next landed a job on Panorama in 1979 and spent five years reporting from around the world. His next career move was to the Six O’Clock News where he was a newsreader for two years before joining BBC One’s Breakfast Time.

But it was his time as presenter of Newsnight – a job which began in 1989 – that left the biggest mark on British broadcasting. Paxman’s iconic interview with then Home Secretary Michael Howard, in which he asked the same question of the minister 12 times, is one of the most memorable political interviews of all time. But there were many more outstanding moments during 15 years in the job, including much-watched face-offs with politicians including British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Theresa May; US President George Bush; Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi; and UK party leaders Ed Miliband and Charles Kennedy. His outstanding broadcasting work on General Elections spanned decades. He also asked the tough questions of people in the arts, including David Bowie, Dizzie Rascal and Russell Brand.

For 29 years from 1994, Paxman also presented University Challenge – asking more tough questions. And he returned to radio for four years from 1998, when he presented Start The Week on BBC Radio 4.

Aside from his job as a journalist and presenter, Paxman even appeared as himself in the political comedy The Thick Of It, while his work in the field of documentaries included The Victorians in 2012 and Empire two years later (both series were complemented with books by Paxman). He also presented Britain’s Great War on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.

The BPG’s chairman Grant Tucker, said: “As an organisation of journalists, the BPG holds Jeremy Paxman in very high esteem for his broadcasting record which has meant remarkable longevity, a unique authenticity, and a fierce desire to hold some people’s feet to the fire. We loudly applaud Jeremy’s famous interview interrogations of the powerful and his dedication to the journalistic craft, which provides the very best for his viewers, listeners and readers.”

The BPG Television, Streaming and Audio Awards are selected independently by journalists who write about TV, radio, streaming and podcasts – correspondents, critics and previewers. The awards lunch will be attended by award winners, BPG members, and leading broadcasting executives.

Photo credit: Ray Burmiston


Pippa Considine

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