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University Challenge: Amol Rajan to replace Jeremy Paxman as host

Rajan will host the iconic quiz from 2023

By Nick Reilly

Amol Rajan (Picture: BBC)
Amol Rajan (Picture: BBC)

Amol Rajan has been announced as the new University Challenge host, taking over the reins of the iconic show when Jeremy Paxman departs in autumn 2023.

It comes after Paxman announced his departure earlier this week, bringing an end to his mammoth 28-year run at the helm.

Rajan has been the BBC’s Media Editor since December 2016 and a presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme since May 2012. He is also a familiar face on TV, having presented on BBC Radio 2 and The One Show.

Before joining the BBC, Rajan was editor of The Independent, becoming the first non-white editor of a national newspaper in over a century when his appointment was announced in 2013.

Rajan said: “Being asked to host my favourite TV programme is dream-come-true territory. I have watched University Challenge obsessively for years, addicted to its high standards, glorious title music, and inspirational contestants. It’s the best possible antidote to cynicism about young people, allowing millions of us to test our wits against the best minds of a new generation, and annoy and impress our families by barking answers from the sofa.

Jeremy Paxman (Picture: BBC)
Jeremy Paxman (Picture: BBC)

“I am very conscious that in the late, great Bamber, and that giant of British culture, Jeremy, I have vast shoes to fill. With his immense intellect, authority, and respect from students and viewers alike, Jeremy hands over a format, and show, as strong as ever.”

He added: “I won’t stop thinking today about my late, beloved Dad, whose devotion to Education brought him to England, whose love of Knowledge I imbibed as a kid, and whose belief in the noble challenge of university so shaped my life. I’ll devote my first Starter for 10 to him – and to the millions of quiz fiends who, like me, love those rare occasions when they know the answer before the students do.”

Peter Gwyn, Executive Producer of University Challenge, added: “The University Challenge production team is thrilled to be working with Amol as he takes the programme forward next year. We’ve long admired him as an outstanding journalist and broadcaster – especially as he had the guts to play for his own college in our Christmas series a few years ago!”

Announcing his departure earlier this week, Paxman said “I’ve had a blast hosting this wonderful series for nearly 29 years. I’ve been lucky enough to work with an amazing team and to meet some of the swottier brains in the country. It gives me hope for the future,”.

University Challenge first aired in 1962 and sees universities across the U.K. contending against each other in a tense battle of intellect.

It was presented by the late Bamber Gascoigne from its inception until 1994, when Paxman became host. Rajan will now become the third host in the show’s history.