This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.
Jeremy Paxman, host of 'Newsnight' (BBC)
Jeremy Paxman, host of 'Newsnight', plus beard (BBC)
Jeremy Paxman, host of ‘Newsnight’, plus beard (BBC)

You can tell it’s the summer when the more faintly ludicrous of news stories are the ones that cause a fuss – and that was definitely the case when viewers of BBC Two’s nightly current affairs show Newsnight took to Twitter in their droves to remark on Monday night’s edition.

But what about the show had grabbed their attention so much? A hard-hitting interview with a prominent political figure? Misreporting of a contentious story? A funny video of a cat? No, it was the fact that long-running anchor Jeremy Paxman – a man renowned for his no-nonsense demeanor – was sporting a prominent new set of facial fuzz.

Within minutes of his appearance onscreen, “Paxman beard” became a trending topic on the social networking site, with crime author Ian Rankin declaring that “It is 1973 and I’m really digging the new album by Paxman’s Beard“. Unsurprisingly, several parody accounts for the beard were swift to follow, while blog Us Vs Th3m were similarly quick in telling the story in animated GIF form.

Never usually one to pay much attention to goings-on on social media, Paxman himself was nevertheless moved to issue a statement on the matter, nudging the story even more firmly into “silly-season” mode:

“Unless you’re lucky enough to be Uncle Albert on Only Fools and Horses, Demis Roussos or Abu Hamza, the BBC is generally as pogonophobic as the late-lamented Albanian dictator, Enver Hoxha.

“I have grown a beard for the last few summers, and suddenly wondered whether I really needed to shave it off. I may keep it or I may shave it off, but I think I’ll make my own decision.”

We await further news with baited breath…

A pre-beard Jeremy Paxman back in 2002. (Press Association via AP Images)
A pre-beard Jeremy Paxman back in 2002. (Press Association via AP Images)
Read More
Filed Under: Jeremy Paxman
By Seb Patrick