The Devastating Effect of Being Publicly Humiliated

I remember my maths teachers making me feel stupid in front of the class whenever I sought clarification over a mathematical skill or process. One teacher in particular used to pronounce in front of the class that she had already used plenty of class time on showing the class and that if I didn’t get it by now I was just wasting everyone’s time. I remember feeling dumb and worthless.

Still, I can’t imagine how bad it must have felt for a student who was made to feel the same way, but this time on national television:

When it comes to getting answers out of politicians, his abrasive manner certainly achieves results. 

But you might expect Jeremy Paxman to tone it down somewhat when the ones taking the questions are undergraduates on University Challenge. 

The presenter has been labelled ‘rude’, ‘nasty’ and a ‘bully’ by viewers who took exception to his treatment of a nervous contestant on the BBC2 quiz show – with one even commenting: ‘Why not just spit in his face, Paxman?’


Third-year medical student Tom Tyszczuk Smith, representing University College London, found himself receiving the brunt of Paxman’s ire during a quarter-final match against a team from the University of Bangor on Monday.

During one quick-fire round, the 20-year-old from Cambridge was met with a barrage of scorn by the broadcaster, 62, who also hosts current affairs show Newsnight.

In a question open to whoever pressed their buzzer first, he asked: “The liberties of England and the Protestant religion I will maintain.” Which royal figure made that claim when he landed at Brixham, in Devon, in 1688?”

A rival contestant buzzed before Paxman had finished speaking and wrongly answered: ‘Elizabeth I’.

But the presenter reserved his derision for Mr Tyszczuk Smith, who came in quickly afterwards and suggested William I instead.

Looking incredulous, Paxman exclaimed: ‘No! William I? No I’m sorry that’s the wrong answer and you know it’s very wrong.’

Raising his eyebrows, he added: ‘It’s only out by about 600 years or so. Anyway no, it’s William of Orange of course, William III.’



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