Jeremy Paxman's most notorious Newsnight grillings

Jeremy Paxman, pictured in his famous 1997 interview with Michael Howard, has quit Newsnight after 20 years as presenter.
Jeremy Paxman, pictured in his famous 1997 interview with Michael Howard, has quit Newsnight after 20 years as presenter. Photo: YouTube

Politicians and celebrities have faced the merciless questioning of Jeremy Paxman for 20 years - watch some of his most famous encounters.

Paxman vs. Tony Blair

"When you go back to those old-fashioned values, who are they consonant with your party taking money from a pornographer?"

Then-prime minister Tony Blair looked uncomfortable when Paxman went on to list pornographic publications in the same stable as the Express Newspaper, whose owner was a party donor.

Scroll to 8:34 for the question:

"Did you threaten to overrule him?"

One of the Newsnight’s most famous interviews saw the presenter ask then-Home Secretary Michael Howard in 1997 whether he had threatened to overrule prisons chief Derek Lewis a total of 12 times:

EU economic affairs spokesman storms out of studio

"Mr Idiot in Brussels, would you like to respond?"

EU Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj-Tardio stormed off set during an interview by video link after journalist Peter Oborne repeatedly called him "that idiot in Brussels" - and Paxman jokingly joined in the name-calling.

Scroll to 0:21 for the question:

A verbal scrap with the Shadow Education Secretary

"Why do most physics teachers not have a physics degree? Is that acceptable?"

Paxman dogged questioning of Tristram Hunt last year was later dubbed a "car-crash interview" for the Shadow Education Secretary.

Chloe Smith savaged

'Is this some sort of joke?"

Treasury Minister Chloe Smith hit the headlines after struggling with one of the presenter's famous maulings in 2012:

Scroll to 6:22 for the interview:

Paxman dubs Russell Brand 'a very trivial man'

"So you struck an attitude way before the age of 18?"

Russell Brand manages to hold his own when questioned by Paxman about his voting habits in an interview last year:

Paxman meets Mr Rascal

"Mr Rascal, do you feel yourself to be British?"

Paxman, who was interviewing the London-bron rapper in 2008 came under fire for the question.

The BBC said: "Jeremy Paxman's question to Dizzee Rascal about whether he felt himself to be British was a direct response to the preceding comments from Baroness Amos who was saying that in the UK, as opposed to the US, we don't talk about the nature of Britishness and what it means to be British. The topics being discussed were race, nationality and identity and this question was a natural part of that discussion."

Paxman won't give up on William Hague

"Did you say to him, 'Are you resident in Britain for tax purposes?'"

Paxman asked William Hague Jeremy Paxman more than a dozen times if he asked Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft where he is resident in Britain for tax purposes, during a 2009 interview.

Not even fellow BBC staff are safe

"Oh come on Paul, it was hardly the entire population of Athens on the streets"

Paxman's own colleague comes under fire in a 2011 live video link: