Who is the new University Challenge host Amol Rajan?

Jeremy Paxman's replacement on BBC's University Challenge has been announced but fans are asking who is Amol Rajan?

Who is the new University Challenge host Amol Rajan?
(Image credit: Getty)

University Challenge has got a new host after Jeremy Paxman quit his role on the show after three decades, and fans are wondering who is his replacement Amol Rajan?

Jeremy Paxman, 72, has fronted the show since 1994 but announced this week that he is stepping down from presenting duties. He said, "I’ve had a blast hosting this wonderful series for nearly 29 years. I’ve been lucky enough to work with an amazing team and to meet some of the swottier brains in the country. It gives me hope for the future.”

It comes after it was announced Anne Robinson is leaving Countdown and Richard Osman quit Pointless.

Before his 2023 departure Jeremy Paxman will record one last season of the show - which involves the brightest students in the country battling it out to answer incredibly difficult questions but fans want to know more about the new University Challenge host...

Who is the new University Challenge host Amol Rajan?

The new University Challenge host Amol Rajan is a British journalist and broadcaster who has worked as the BBC's Media Editor since December 2016. He is also a presenter on BBC Radio 4's the Today programme - a position he's held since 2021.

Ahead of his new role, Amol said, "I can honestly say University Challenge is my favourite show. I love it. The music, the students, the format, the history, the shameless intellectual ambition. And I love being a quizmaster, as my mates can attest. So this feels massively humbling. Not least because the show has only ever had two hosts. 

He recalled, "I met Bamber Gascoigne once, at an unforgettable dinner with a friend on Mill Road in Cambridge. He was such an inspiration: clever, urbane, witty, kind. Jeremy Paxman has been a giant in British broadcasting and culture ever since I can remember. He has total authority behind that desk: something I will have to earn. Thanks largely to him, the show, and format (which was imported from America 60 years ago) is stronger than ever. 

"I know from being a contestant recently that there is a phenomenal production team. I can’t wait to work with them, and to read my first Starter for 10. I may have a quiet word with my old man in advance."

Prior to working for the BBC, Amol was editor of The Independent newspaper from June 2013.

Speaking about Amol as new host, BBC Director of Unscripted Kate Phillips, said, "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.”

Amol is no stranger to TV - he was the secondary presenter of The Wright Stuff between 2006-2007. He's also provided cover for BBC Radio 2 presenters Simon Mayo, Jeremy Vine and Zoe Ball and has occasionally presented The One Show.

Who is Amol Rajan's wife?

Amol Rajan is married to academic Charlotte Faircloth. The couple married in 2013 in Cambridge and now live in London with their three children.

How old is Amol Rajan?

Amol Rajan is 39 years old - he was born on 4th July 1983 in Calcutta, India to his parents. He was born V. Amol with the V for his father's given name Varadarajan but this was modified to Amol Varadarajan when he moved to England when he was aged three, and the family later changed their surname to Rajan. 

He was raised in Tooting, South West London. After being educated at Graveney School he read English at Downing College, Cambridge before becoming editor of the student newspaper for a term in 2005. During his gap year Amol worked in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for one year during his gap year.

In announcing his exciting news, he revealed his heartache over his dad's death, telling his Instagram followers, "I got a new job, and it’s a proper dream come true. I’m going to be quizmaster on University Challenge. Yeah! 

In breaking his social media silence, he explained, "I haven’t posted much on here for a while, because to be frank I have been in a pit of grief since my dear Dad died. It’s hit me extremely hard, and changed me profoundly. I know we all have to go through it, and I’m doing all that processing that people talk about, but it sucks.

He continued, "Especially when very cool life events like this happen, and even more so when it’s do with universities and knowledge. That was everything for my dear Dad, still the cleverest guy I ever met, and someone who believed so deeply in ideas and erudition, and who venerated great minds and quotations and pedagogy. He would have loved to see me do this show. Then again, as my brother says, he would have loved me to pay off my mortgage even more…"

University Challenge hosts

There have been only three University Challenge hosts since the BBC's longest running show started back in 1962 and has currently recorded 51 series. Bamber Gascoigne was the first show host from 1962-1987, followed by Jeremy Paxman from 1994 to Autumn 2023. And now Amol Rajan is the third host due to take his seat in Autumn 2023.

Bamber Gascoigne and Jeremy Paxman

(Image credit: Getty / Getty)

The new series of University Challenge airs from Monday 29th August at 8.30pm on BBC2.

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Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)