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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Paxman's Beard: A Big Storm on Twitter and a Smaller One at the BBC

Jeremy Paxman's first bearded appearance on Newsnight last night provoked a storm of reaction across twitter and the wider blogosphere. Although reactions to the new facial hair were evenly split between those offering praise and those who compared him to a "rubbish Doctor Who", the real story here is in what the reaction tells us about the BBC and bearded men on television in general.
Paxman and others have half jokingly accused the BBC of being pogonophobic, having a dislike or fear of beards. Although the comments were made mostly in jest, it has got the public and media commentators thinking about beards on television and how bearded men are represented. The BBC in particular is home to very few bearded men, with only Paul Hollywood being incidentally bearded compared to Si King and Dave Meyers, of The Hairy Bikers fame, whose beards are an actual part of their on screen identity.

How uncommon beards on the BBC are is highlighted by quite how enormous the reaction to the offending facial hair was, taking the title of top twitter trend for several hours on Monday night with conversation stretching right into today. Some of the best responses to Paxman's beard follow:

Comedian Jenny Eclair said: "I like Paxman's beard, looks like he might ride a Harley come the weekend."

Comedian Al Murray wrote: "Not seen the Paxman beard or the Perseids (meteor shower). Feel so, so alone."

Fellow presenter Emily Maitlis even got in on the action saying: "Right that's it. Im working on a moustache for Thursday's Newsnight"  

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