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Series / Newsnight

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British weekday current affairs programme, running continuously on weekdays since 1980. It currently airs at 10.30pm on BBC Two, after the BBC One news.

Famous for its style of interviewing, which involves asking the same question several times to a politician who is clearly trying to avoid answering (most famously Michael Howard, who was asked the same question - "Did you threaten to overrule him?"note twelve times and still waffled around without giving an answer — even though the answer turned out, apparently, years later, to be "no"note ). Jeremy Paxman (a rare newsreader example of the Deadpan Snarker) is the best known presenter.

Once upon a time, the other star was Peter Snow, whose enthusiasm in explaining wars with sandpits or elections with a "swing-o-meter" was a joy to behold.

For some years, the final half hour on Fridays was given over to Newsnight Review, which covered the arts and had a panel of famous artists and critics reviewing new movies, music, exhibits, etc. (Cuttingly satirised by Dead Ringers.) In 2013 the show was renamed The Review Show, shunted to BBC Four, and then axed. The rest of the week, this time was given over to Newsnight Scotland in Scotland, until it too was axed in 2014.

This show contains examples of:

  • Armor-Piercing Question: The "Did you threaten to overrule him?" incident. Ultimately subverted, in that Howard never answered the question (until years later.)
  • The Big Board: The show used to have a sandpit for illustrating military activities.
  • Call-Back: The notorious 1997 "Did you threaten to overrule him?" incident was, as noted above, revisited in 2004, and again for a gag item in Jeremy Paxman's last edition in 2014:
    Paxman: Michael Howard — did you?
    Howard: No, Jeremy, I didn't. But feel free to ask the question another eleven times.
  • Exact Words: When a Conservative MP proposed that BBC One should return to playing the British national anthem "God Save the Queen" at the end of the broadcast day, Kirsty Wark announced that the show would oblige... and played the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" over the credits.
  • Here There Be Dragons: at the time of the Falklands War in 1982, the opening credits were an animation of a camera panning over a large and reasonably well-detailed world map. Except... the Falkland Islands were thought so irrelevant and insignificant trhat they were omitted from the map. There was a large blank space just off South America where a major war had broken out over an apparent blank void. It had been thought completely implausible that anything of any importance could ever happen there....
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: All the hosts who aren't Paxman.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Possible reason why Paxman can insult his editor, the audience, and the BBC live on air with no consequences.
    • Paxman seriously considered quitting in November 2012 due to the way the BBC were handling the Lord McAlpine problem. Almost anyone else would have been politely asked to leave after what he said about management during that period.
    • Paxman did eventually quit in June 2014.