A doctor diagnosed Jeremy Paxman with Parkinson’s disease after noticing the presenter was less “exuberant” when presenting University Challenge, the veteran broadcaster has revealed.
The former Newsnight host said the diagnosis came while he was in hospital after collapsing while walking his dog.
One of the doctors said he noticed that the 72-year-old’s face had been given a “Parkinson’s mask.”
“Well, it was completely out of the blue,” Paxman said of the diagnosis.
“I was walking in the square across the street. There was ice nearby and I had the dog with me – the dog was on a leash.
“The first thing I knew was when someone put me on a bench. I had fallen and I had made a terrible mess of my face.
“I had gone straight down on my horn, which, as you can see, is not small. Cuts everywhere. I was a real mess. And when I was in the ER, a doctor came in and said, “I think you have Parkinson’s.”
“And it turns out he’d been watching University Challenge and noticed that my face had gotten the so-called Parkinson’s mask.
“I was not as exuberant and exuberant as usual. I had no idea.”
Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years, according to the NHS website.
The three main symptoms of the condition are involuntary shaking of certain parts of the body known as tremors, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles.
Paxman revealed in August that he would be stepping down as host of University Challenge after 29 years in the role.
He said he decided to quit because it would become clear to viewers that there was something “unusual” about him.
“I think I’ve been on University Challenge for about 29 years, which is a very, very long time — too long, really,” he said.
“I always think, if you’re afraid to make a decision, do it.
“The people at the University Challenge were brilliant, but I think I should stop. I’ll be sorry to give it up, but no one is indispensable.
“It will become apparent that there is something funny about me – and I mean unusual, not funny funny. So I don’t want to ruin it for them.”
Paxman: Putting Up With Parkinson’s will air on ITV on Tuesday 4 October at 9pm and will also be available on the ITV Hub.