BBC News media editor Amol Rajan has been appointed the new host of U.K. gameshow “University Challenge.”
The current host, Jeremy Paxman, revealed he would be stepping down after 28 years. He is set to shoot his last episode this fall and his last series will air from Aug. 29 through to next summer.
Rajan, who will step down as media editor later this year, is set to take over the hosting chair in early 2023, with his first episodes appearing in the fall. He will continue to present BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme as well as “Amol Rajan Interviews.”
“University Challenge” is the U.K.’s longest-running quiz show, having launched 60 years ago fronted by Bamber Gascoigne. A documentary about the show is set to air on BBC Two and the BBC’s streaming platform iPlayer on Aug. 29.
“Being asked to host my favourite TV programme is dream-come-true territory,” said Rajan. “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.”
“I am very conscious that in the late, great Bamber, and that giant of British culture, Jeremy, I have vast shoes to fill,” Rajan continued. “With his immense intellect, authority, and respect from students and viewers alike, Jeremy hands over a format, and show, as strong as ever.”
“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.”
Kate Phillips, BBC’s director of unscripted, said: “’University Challenge’ is an incredibly important staple of our entertainment slate as it continues to entertain, challenge and educate audiences. We’re delighted that Amol has agreed to be the new host. Jeremy leaves a very big chair to fill but Amol’s experience, expertise and sense of humour makes him the perfect fit for one of Britain’s longest running and toughest quiz shows. If future student contestants think they’ll get an easier ride with Amol taking over, they can think again!”
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!”