Jeremy Paxman: How to watch his documentary Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson's, and how he got diagnosed

Somebody knew about his diagnosis before he did

Jeremy Paxman in Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson's
(Image credit: ITV/Future)

Jeremy Paxman gets frank about debilitating progressive neurological disease Parkinson’s, and the incredible way he was diagnosed.

Television presenter Jeremy Paxman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in May, 2021. The veteran broadcaster is now 72-years old, and began his career at the BBC in the 1970s - he’s well known for reporting on political and international affairs. He hosted popular quiz show University Challenge for 28 years, only stepping away from the position this year due to his Parkinson’s diagnosis. Now the presenter is getting frank about his condition in the documentary Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson's and in his own words reveals honestly “I’m not living with it, I’m putting up with it.” Read on to find out how to watch the moving and sometimes funny documentary, as well as the incredible way the broadcaster was diagnosed.

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Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson’s: Release date 

Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson’s will be released on Tuesday October 4, 2022, at 9pm

The documentary will follow Paxman in the months after his Parkinson’s diagnosis 18 months ago, charting how he adapts and comes to terms with the illness. The presenter has never before allowed such unprecedented access to his life, but wanted to show others how the disease impacts him. Throughout the 60-minute special, Paxman speaks to other high profile people living with Parkinson's - including chatting to Sharon Osbourne caring for husband Ozzy, who shares the same diagnosis. Together, he and Sharon try CBD oil as a potential treatment for the condition.

Sharon Osbourne and Jeremy Paxman in documentary Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson's

(Image credit: ITV)

He also meets the President of Parkinson’s UK, Jane Asher, and tries different therapies for his symptoms - including attending an English National Ballet therapy dance class, and learning to play bowls. He will meet experts who are at the leading edge of research, including observing a brain dissection, and even meets a woman claiming to diagnose Parkinson’s by smell.

With 1 in 37 people in the UK diagnosed in their lifetime, Paxman aims to investigate and bust myths surrounding the illness. He said “I don’t want to be involved in a production of a film that is in any way encouraging of the ‘poor little me’ syndrome”, about what he was hoping to get from making the documentary.

How to watch Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson’s 

Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson’s can be viewed on ITV when it airs at 9pm on October 4. It will be available on ITV Hub immediately afterwards. 

ITV and ITV Hub (opens in new tab) are both free to watch. To view Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson’s on ITV Hub, you just need to register for an account. There is a premium service available, entitled ITV Hub+ (opens in new tab). This is a subscription service priced at £3.99 a month or £39.99 for a year. For this price, subscribers receive ad-free television and downloads. A 7-day free trial is available prior to any commitment.

Jeremy Paxman with Professor of Neuopathology Steve Gentleman in Paxman: Putting Up with Parkinson’s

(Image credit: ITV)

How did Jeremy Paxman get diagnosed with Parkinson’s

A doctor watching Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge realised the presenter had Parkinson’s before he did, after noticing some classic symptoms in his facial features.  

According to The Guardian (opens in new tab), the doctor noticed Paxman was less “exuberant” when presenting the show, and had acquired a “Parkinson’s mask”. The Parkison’s mask refers to the disease affecting the facial muscles used to express emotion. This results in facial movements being rigid or slow, and a mask style expression that appears lacking in emotion.

Paxman later collapsed while walking his dog, resulting in facial injuries. A passerby helped him onto a bench before he was taken to hospital. Once in hospital, Paxman said “And when I was in A&E, a doctor walked in and said: ‘I think you’ve got Parkinson’s.’ And it turned out that he had been watching University Challenge and had noticed that my face had acquired what’s known as the Parkinson’s mask. I wasn’t as effusive and exuberant as normal. I had no idea”.

Jeremy Paxman attends an English National Ballet therapy dance class

(Image credit: ITV)

Does Jeremy Paxman have a partner?

Jeremy Paxman is rumoured to be dating book editor Jillian Taylor, although he has never publicly confirmed this.

The broadcaster has never been married, but was in a relationship with Elizabeth Clough for 34 years. The pair met when they were both working on BBC’s Newsnight, and split in 2016. They have 3 children together, Jessica born in 1991, and twins Jack and Victoria - born in 1999.   

What causes Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease is caused by nerve cell loss in the area of the brain called the substantia nigra.

According to the NHS (opens in new tab), this part of the brain is responsible for producing dopamine, which acts as a messenger between parts of the brain and areas of the nervous system that control and co-ordinate movement. Damage to the substantia nigra nerve cells results in the amount of dopamine in the brain being reduced. Therefore, the part of the brain controlling movement doesn’t work efficiently and movements become slow and abnormal.

Nerve cell loss is a slow process, with symptoms of Parkinson's disease usually developing when around 80% of the nerve cells in the substantia nigra have been lost. It's currently unknown why the loss of nerve cells associated with Parkinson's disease occurs, although available research points to a combination of genetic changes and environmental factors acting to cause the condition. 

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