Amol Rajan admits respect for ‘traditional figures of authority’

Rajan, 40, is the host for the BBC quiz show, University Challenge.

Amol Rajan

Pramod Thomas

BRITISH ASIAN presenter, Amol Rajan, has revealed his admiration for “pale, male, and stale” figures, expressing his respect for traditional figures of authority and intellectual weight.

“I’m a big fan of pale, male and stale people, figures of white middle-class authority or intellectual heft. I don’t assume those people are guilty until proven innocent,” Rajan told Radio Times.

Rajan, 40, took over hosting the BBC quiz show, University Challenge, in July from Jeremy Paxman, who had been at the helm for 29 years. Before Paxman, Bamber Gascoigne hosted the show for 25 years.

Rajan described Gascoigne as a “godlike figure.”

Acknowledging the burden he feels as a non-white and non-public school-educated individual, Rajan addressed criticism questioning his suitability for the role.

Having earned up to £339,999 for presenting BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last year, he expressed confidence in his abilities and emphasised the importance of being himself with authority.

“I have enough self-confidence to know that in the end they’ll realise that I’m not stupid. The biggest thing I can do for them is to be myself with authority. I feel a pressure to be exceptionally competent,” he was quoted as saying.

Reflecting on viewer comments comparing him to Dr Claw, the villain from Inspector Gadget, Rajan joked that he would be in a “marginally smaller” chair in the next series of the show.

Clive Myrie, the Mastermind host, emphasised the significance of a diverse presenter lineup at the BBC, stating that it reflects the broader British audience.

Myrie, 59, acknowledged that he initially underestimated the importance of following in the footsteps of predecessors John Humphrys and Magnus Magnusson. He credited George Alagiah for highlighting the significance of his role.

Data from Creative Diversity Network revealed that in 2021-22, 28 per cent of individuals appearing on-screen in BBC TV shows were from black, Asian, or minority ethnic backgrounds.