BBC names Amol Rajan as new University Challenge host

amol rajan uc

Journalist and broadcaster Amol Rajan has been announced as the new University Challenge host, taking over from Jeremy Paxman from autumn 2023 onwards.

Rajan has been the BBC’s Media Editor since December 2016 and a presenter of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme since May 2021. 

He has also presented on BBC Radio 2 and The One Show, and was previously editor of The Independent newspaper.

His appointment will likely be seen as evidence the BBC is embracing diversity and inclusion more than ever with mainstream opportunities within the corporation.

It follows last month’s announcement that the BBC has chosen Ncuti Gatwa as the 13th incarnation of Doctor Who.

Amol Rajan

“Being asked to host my favourite TV programme is dream-come-true territory”, said Rajan. 

“I have watched University Challenge obsessively for years, addicted to its high standards, glorious title music, and inspirational contestants. 

“It’s the best possible antidote to cynicism about young people, allowing millions of us to test our wits against the best minds of a new generation, and annoy and impress our families by barking answers from the sofa.

“I am very conscious that in the late, great Bamber, and that giant of British culture, Jeremy, I have vast shoes to fill. 

“With his immense intellect, authority, and respect from students and viewers alike, Jeremy hands over a format, and show, as strong as ever.

“I won’t stop thinking today about my late, beloved Dad, whose devotion to education brought him to England, whose love of knowledge I imbibed as a kid, and whose belief in the noble challenge of university so shaped my life. 

“I’ll devote my first ‘Starter for 10’ to him – and to the millions of quiz fiends who, like me, love those rare occasions when they know the answer before the students do.”

Kate Phillips, BBC’s Director of Unscripted, said: “University Challenge is an incredibly important staple of our entertainment slate as it continues to entertain, challenge and educate audiences. 

“We’re delighted that Amol has agreed to be the new host. Jeremy leaves a very big chair to fill but Amol’s experience, expertise and sense of humour makes him the perfect fit for one of Britain’s longest running and toughest quiz shows. 

“If future student contestants think they’ll get an easier ride with Amol taking over, they can think again!”

Peter Gwyn, Executive Producer of University Challenge, said: “The University Challenge production team is thrilled to be working with Amol as he takes the programme forward next year. 

“We’ve long admired him as an outstanding journalist and broadcaster – especially as he had the guts to play for his own college in our Christmas series a few years ago!”

University Challenge was revived by the BBC in 1994. Rajan takes over from Paxman who has stepped down as presenter after an incredible 28 years.

Rajan will start filming early next year and be seen on screen from autumn 2023 onwards. 

He will step down as Media Editor at BBC News later in the year, and will continue to be a presenter on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme as well as continue Amol Rajan Interviews.

University Challenge is produced by Lifted Entertainment, part of ITV Studios, and is based on the format of College Bowl by Richard Reid. 

This year University Challenge celebrates 60 years of being Britain’s longest running quiz show.