Famous for piling the pressure on politicians, Jeremy Paxman has now turned his attention to shy students, reducing one to a quivering wreck after a "savaging" on University Challenge.
The BBC presenter prompted a "storm" of comments on Twitter, while the broadcaster received 47 complaints from viewers, as they watched a 20-year-old crumble under Paxman's brutal interrogation.
Medic student Tom Tyszczuk Smith was representing the University College London (UCL) on the esteemed programme on Monday night.
Paxman posed the question: "'The liberties of England and the Protestant religion I will maintain.' Which royal figure made that claim when he landed at Brixham, in Devon, in 1688?"
After a rival from Bangor University answered incorrectly, Tyszczuk Smith buzzed in to claim his moment of glory. But alas, after answering "William I", the student was promptly battered down by Paxman.
Tyszczuk Smith received a "savaging" from Paxman, who cried "No! William I? No I’m sorry that’s the wrong answer and you know it’s very wrong.
"It’s only out by about 600 years or so. Anyway no, it’s William of Orange of course, William III."
The stuttering student hastily apologised, and hung his head in shame, adding: "Sorry, sorry, no I’m sorry.”
A couple of viewers then took to Twitter to valiantly defend the poor soul, with one simply saying:
Others however, seemed to empathise with Paxman's horror, tweeting:
And many dismissed the incident entirely:
Meanwhile, Tyszczuk Smith's mother stepped in and exonerated the presenter: "I think Paxman is always a little tough with the contestants. But I think it is all in good spirit. It is a challenge after all.
"I don’t think he’s a bully. Tom wanted to do well and perhaps that showed more when he got things wrong rather than right."
A spokesperson for the BBC said: "University Challenge is a tense and fast-paced competition, and Jeremy Paxman's acerbic remarks have long been part of the appeal. Viewers and contestants alike know what to expect from the host."
Ofcom said it had not received any complaints about the programme.Suggest a correction