The BBC newsreader hit back against her veteran colleague saying he was no stranger to reading off an autocue himself. “Maybe any fool can do this, but I think it’s a skill,” she said. University Challenge host Jeremy ridiculed his old mainstay role in a podcast with comedian Richard Herring last month.
The 70-year-old said the BBC was “full of boring people” and news reading was a job for an “articulated suit”.
He went on: “I can’t see any point in reading the news at all. Do you remember reading aloud at school? That’s what it is.”
But, defending her profession, Reeta, said: “I’ve written a lot of what I’m reading.
“Those aren’t someone else’s words. I pride myself on being able to write with simplicity and clarity. I wonder how he can say that when he spent quite a few years himself reading off an autocue. I’m a journalist, I know what the stories are, I discuss them with the editor and the correspondent.”
Reeta, 56, told this week’s Radio Times that she was surprised at Paxman’s dismissive attitude and says she often has to think on her feet on air.
The mother of three added: “It’s his opinion.”
She recalled how “wired” she felt filling in for three hours due to a delayed Downing Street press conference.
Reeta, who lives in north London, says she winds down from the stress with a Diet Coke rather than anything stronger.
And she claimed the pandemic has brought out the more caring side of BBC colleagues.
She added: “A year ago, we’d do our work and dash off.
“But now we talk to each other more and occasionally you’ll find a colleague is having a hard time or knows someone who’s passed away. We’ve become more caring and that’s a good thing.”
A keen swimmer, Reeta has been doing 70s and 80s dance workouts as an alternative distraction during lockdown.
And she admits that although she would find an offer from Strictly tempting, she would prefer to keep her routines private – not even husband Paul Hamilton is allowed to watch.
She added bashfully: “I need to keep it private.”