Newsnight: Paxman & Hitchens


An artist’s portrayal of Christopher ‘Hitch’ Hitchens when he was (or seemed to be at least) in somewhat better health.

Christopher Hitchens and Jeremy Paxman, though at different ends of the political spectrum, are two of my modern-day journalistic heroes. Besides their political differences, both of them are incredibly well-read, supremely witty and, above all, fiercely intelligent. In this Newsnight interview, dating back to November 2010, just over a year before Hitchens died (quite suddenly, actually) from cancer-induced pneumonia, you can see how much Paxman—so widely renowned for his acerbic, no-nonsense tongue—respects the man sat before him. Addressing Hitchens’s poor health, Paxman holds his left hand for most of the interview just in front of his mouth. His pose almost makes you think that Paxman is restraining himself, not wanting to enter into a debate with Hitchens, who was always a superb orator. To power-phrase Sir Bob Geldof writing about his daughter Peaches four months ago, saying ‘was’ only serves to sadden me afresh.

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