Jeremy Paxmans Parkinsons disease diagnosis came completely out of the blue

Jeremy Paxman is known for his roles as the presenter of Newsnight and University Challenge during his career at the BBC which began back in 1972.

He joined University Challenge as the show's host when the programme was revived in the early 90s, showcasing intellectual talent from the UK's top universities.

The presenter announced in August this year that he would be stepping down from the role as the host of University Challenge after 29 years, which is the longest running quiz show in the BBC's history.

It has since been announced that fellow BBC journalist Amol Rajan will replace Mr Paxman as the show's presenter.

But why did Jeremy Paxman quit University Challenge? Here's everything you need to know.

Why did Jeremy Paxman leave University Challenge?

Mr Paxman announced that he was leaving the show in August due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.

The news of the University Challenge host's departure came one year on from Mr Paxman's Parkinson's diagnosis.

He said at the time his symptoms were “currently mild” but it appears he had taken the decision to quit the show to lighten his workload.

He added that he decided to quit the show as it will become obvious to viewers that there is something "unusual" about him.

"I think I've been doing University Challenge for about 29 years, which is a very, very long time – too long really," he said. "I always think that if you're scared of making a decision, do it.

"The University Challenge people have been brilliant but I do think that I ought to stop doing it. I will be sad to give it up, but no-one is indispensable.

"It'll become obvious that there's something funny about me – and I mean unusual, not funny funny. So I don't want to spoil it for them."

Mr Paxman is currently starring in the latest series of University Challenge, with his final episode set to be broadcast in spring 2023 when the academic year wraps up with a new winner.

Jeremy Paxman's Parkinson's diagnosis explained

The TV presenter revealed that his doctor noticed he had Parkinson's disease after watching him on TV during University Challenge.

Mr Paxman said the diagnosis came when he was in hospital after collapsing while walking his dog. One of the doctors said he had noticed the 72-year-old's face had acquired a "Parkinson's mask" while watching the BBC quiz show.

"Well, it was completely out of the blue," He said of the diagnosis. "I was having a walk in the square across the way. There was ice around and I had the dog with me – the dog was on a lead.

"The first thing I knew was when somebody was sitting me on a bench. I'd fallen over and I made a terrible mess of my face.

"I'd gone straight down on my hooter, which, as you can see, is not small. Cuts all over the place. I was a real mess. And when I was in A&E, a doctor walked in and said 'I think you've got Parkinson's'.

"And it turned out that he had been watching University Challenge and had noticed that my face had acquired what's known as the Parkinson Mask. I wasn't as effusive and exuberant as normal. I had no idea."

What is Parkinson's disease?

Parkinson's disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.

According to the NHS website, the main symptoms of the disease are:

  • Involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor)
  • Slow movement
  • Stiff and inflexible muscles

Those who suffer with Parkinson's can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms.

These include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Balance problems (this may increase the chances of a fall)
  • Loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
  • Problems sleeping (insomnia)
  • Memory problems

Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson's will air tonight (October 4) at 9pm on ITV and ITV Hub.

Read More:

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  • BBC Breakfast's Naga Munchetty wishes co-star 'good luck' as she quits programme

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