Paxman faces down BBC’s pogonophobia

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman has laughed off the fuss caused by his beard – saying that he may keep it.

The broadcaster’s appearance raised eyebrows on Monday night when he fronted the BBC2 current affairs show with a crop of noticeable new facial hair.

Paxman, 63, said that many at the BBC are pogonophobic – have a fear of beards – but that it was up to him whether he would revert back to his usual appearance or not.

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

Paxman’s appearance sparked comment on Twitter, where the broadcaster’s fellow presenter Emily Maitlis tweeted: “Right that’s it. I’m working on a moustache for Thursday’s Newsnight”.

BBC radio presenter Shelagh Fogarty said: “Mr Paxman’s beard proving it isn’t just women’s appearance on TV that people obsess about. Will it be kitten heels tomorrow?”

Newsnight colleague Paul Mason wrote: “The rumour is they are screentesting for Tom Bombadil in the third Peter Jackson Hobbit movie”.