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'Do your research you lazy b*****d' – Paxman's excruciating interview with Richard Herring


Journalist Paxman, 70, is well known for his confrontational style of interviewing, and earned a living breaking down political arguments, and politicians, while presenting BBC Newsnight. The University Challenge host saw his debates become part of TV folklore, including one episode where he asked former Home Secretary Michael Howard the same question 12 times in order to get the response he wanted. And while he wasn’t always a politician’s best friend, Paxman recently defended the Government’s record of claims all its MPs went to Eton College.

Eton is famed for producing some of the country’s leading political minds, with 20 Prime Ministers attending the Berkshire-based boarding school including Boris Johnson, Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home.

As well as politicians, Eton College also homed Prince William and his brother Prince Harry, as well as famous actors such as Hugh Lawrie and musicians like Frank Turner.

But when challenged by Herring, on the comedian’s Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (RHLSTP), regarding claims all politicians went to Eton, privately-educated Paxman demanded he “do some research” before dismantling the argument.

Prior to the encounter, Herring discussed how Paxman “didn’t have a great time” at boarding school, adding: “It felt to me that, and it worked out quite well for you as a personality and the type of job you chose, but given more of our Government went through that similar experience… of weird rules, and being away from their parents when they are kids, do you think that explains whether those sort of people are equipped to rule us.

“Or to lead us, when they have had this experience during childhood where love has, not been taken away from them, but certainly it’s an odd experience isn’t it?”

Paxman, however, hit back by claiming he “didn’t really buy that argument”.

He said: “I don’t think it’s true that all our rulers are from that sort of background.

“If you think about the people we have had. Who have we had? We’ve had [Tony] Blair, Gordon Brown. [David] Cameron of course was one of those.

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Although viewers have enjoyed his brash interview technique and manner, some have taken a distaste towards his abrasive nature.

In 2012, Paxman was criticised by Greek politician Giorgos Papakonstantinou, after comments the BBC star made regarding Greece’s possible exit of the eurozone.

Speaking on Newsnight, Paxman claimed Greece was “like a bad kebab” that faced the prospect of being “vomited out of the single currency”.

Upon hearing the comments, Mr Papakonstantinou said the remarks were offensive and criticised the journalist.

A year later, when being questioned by the BBC’s Graham Norton, Paxman described Mr Cameron as an “idiot” before he revealed he did not vote in the previous local election.

This drew frustration from Nick Clegg, who at the time was Deputy Prime Minister.

He argued that Paxman had a “sneering” attitude towards politicians, treating them as “rogues and charlatans”.


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