So Paxman has gone. No more will the brow shoot skywards, the face grimace in incredulity and the eyes peer sharply down an enormous nose and onto the form of a wincing politician.
The king is dead, Newsnight might follow… the entire edifice of the BBC might just crumble, but at least he went out not bemoaning the changing face of broadcast media, but embracing his legacy – one that straddled the changing eras.
Paxo, who had said before the broadcast he wanted to “go to bed at the same time as most people”, made his final turn on Wednesday, a show packed with nods to his 25-year tenure. First up was Boris, a man with whom Paxo has oft-locked horns, with the pair sharing a tandem bike (video above).
“Why have Boris Bikes been such a failure,” Paxo smirked. "They’ve been a howling success,” shot back the Mayor, before making some conciliatory remarks about how the grand inquisitor had “kept the nation entertained – if not always awake – for many, many years”.
In a slightly more topical segment, the presenter asked Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair’s former spinner, if the former PM “had gone a bit nuts”, a reference to Blair’s baffling inability to accept any sort of responsibility for the current crisis in Iraq.
The highlight was a cameo from former Tory leader Michael Howard, perhaps Paxo’s most famous victim, who in 1997 was asked the same question 12 times – a segment that has matured into a now-classic piece of British TV, alongside Emu attacking Parky and the elephant taking a sh*t on Blue Peter.
“Did you?” asked Paxo, clearly enjoying the vignette. “No Jeremy, I didn’t, but feel free to ask another 11 times,” replied Howard, slightly building up his part (video below).
Then came the denouement: "Thank you for watching Newsnight. I hope you continue to enjoy it. Goodnight and goodbye."
With that Paxo was off, the “great lion of British journalism”, as the BBC’s head of news James Harding called him, was done. Enjoy your early nights, Jeremy. At least until you sign that contract with Channel 4…
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