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Jeremy Paxman under fire: BBC newsreader hits back at ‘anyone can do it’ attack

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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.”



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