Left: Rajan's profile in Varsity. Left: the BBC's headquartersVarsity / Amy Karle WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The BBC can’t seem to get enough of veteran Varsity hacks as it picks former editor, Amol Rajan, to be Jeremy Paxman’s successor on University Challenge.

Rajan studied English Literature and Language at Downing College between 2002 and 2005. In his final year he edited Varsity for both Lent and Easter terms.

The 2005 edition of Varsity’s Talent 100 included Rajan alongside other now-famous names such as Wes Streeting and Tim Stanley. According to his profile, he had a “promising cricket career cut short by injury” and was “unofficially the youngest ever British diplomat to represent the UK” while he worked for the Foreign Office during his gap year.

After Cambridge, Rajan joined The Independent, eventually becoming editor of the paper in 2013. At 29, this made him one of the youngest people ever to edit a British national newspaper.


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Rajan follows in the footsteps of Jeremy Paxman, another former editor of Varsity. Paxman hosted the quiz show since 1994 but announced earlier this week that he would be stepping down at the end of next season.

On revealing his appointment, Rajan paid tribute to his fellow Cantabrigian, calling Paxman a “giant in British broadcasting”. He went on to admit that he would have to earn Paxman’s “total authority behind the desk”.

Rajan appeared in the 2020 Christmas special of University Challenge, representing his alma mater against Durham. On the show he joked that he “only got to be editor of the Independent because Jeremy Paxman turned the job down”. In the end, Durham beat Downing by 25 points in a close fought match.