Jeremy Paxman documentary: Putting Up with Parkinson’s release date, who is University Challenge presenter?

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Jeremy Paxman will front a new health documentary charting his battle with Parkinson’s disease over the last 18 months

Veteran broadcaster and television host Jeremy Paxman will share his experience of living with Parkinson’s disease for the first time in a new ITVdocumentary. Putting Up with Parkinson’s will explore the effects of the disease and bust some of the prevalent myths about it.

Paxman will also meet with other well known people who live with the disease and speak to president of Parkinson’s UK, Jane Asher. The documentary will also see Paxman attend an English National Ballet therapy dance class and learn to play bowls.

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Jeremy Paxman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021Jeremy Paxman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021
Jeremy Paxman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2021 | ITV

Who is Jeremy Paxman?

Jeremy Paxman, 72, is a British broadcaster from Leeds who first began working for the BBC in the 1970s, one of his earliest jobs was reporting on The Troubles in Belfast. He has reported on international affairs from places such as Beirut, Uganda, and central America.

Over his career he has interviewed major players in British politics and became known for his aggressive and determined style. In one interview with former Home Secretary MIchael Howard, he asked him the same question 12 times.

He interviewed Russell Brand in 2012 about his ideas surrounding a political revolution, mediated a Q and A with then Prime Minister Tony Blair about the Iraq War, and interviewed journalist Christopher Hitchens during the later stages of his battle with terminal cancer.

Paxman hosted quiz show University Challenge for 28 years from 1994, stepping down this year due to his health diagnosis. He was in a relationship with artist and designer Elizabeth Clough for 34 years and has three children with her - the couple split in 2016.

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In May 2021 Paxman publicly revealed his Parkinson’s diagnosis and said at the time that his symptoms were mild. He decided to step down as host of University Challenge and was replaced by journalist Amol Rajan.

Jeremy Paxman and Paul SinhaJeremy Paxman and Paul Sinha
Jeremy Paxman and Paul Sinha | ITV

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a condition caused by degeneration of nerve cells in the brain which control movement. The disease is progressive, meaning that it gets worse over time. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremors in certain parts of the body, stiff muscles, and slow movement.

Parkinson’s places excess strain on the body and can make those living with the condition more vulnerable to other life threatening conditions. However, with modern treatments most people living with the disease have a near normal life expectancy.

Parkinson’s disease affects roughly one in 500 people, with most of those who have the disease experiencing symptoms over the age of 50. Other famous people currently living with Parkinson’s disease include musician Ozzy Osbourne, comedian Billy Connolly, and Chaser Paul Sinha.

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Sinha revealed his diagnosis in 2019 and said that he almost broke down when he realised that his symptoms were consistent with sufferers of the disease. Sinha and Ozzie Osbourne’s wife Sharon will both feature in the documentary as Paxman speaks to them about how the disease has impacted their lives.

Speaking about his own diagnosis to The Guardian, Paxman said: “Well, it was completely out of the blue. 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.”

He added: “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.”

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Paxman said that on rewatch of his University Challenge episodes, he noticed something called ‘Parkinson’s Mask’ - an expressionless look to his face. He said: “I wasn’t as effusive and exuberant as normal. I had no idea.”

When is Jeremy Paxman Putting Up with Parkinson’s on TV?

The one off hour long documentary will air on ITV on Tuesday 4 October at 9pm and will be available to watch on ITV Hub shortly after they are first used.

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