Jeremy Paxman signs off from Newsnight

Paxman with his feet on the desk Jeremy Paxman can look forward to earlier bedtimes now

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Newsnight's audience doubled on Wednesday as 1.1 million viewers tuned in to see Jeremy Paxman host his last edition.

After 25 years as the programme's presenter, he signed off in simple style. "Thank you for watching Newsnight. I hope you continue to enjoy it. Goodnight and goodbye."

It followed an edition that showed Paxman interviewing London mayor Boris Johnson while on a tandem bicycle in the latest of their colourful Newsnight exchanges.

Michael Howard, arguably Paxman's most famous interviewee, also appeared on the programme. As Home Secretary in 1997, he was asked 12 times by the newsreader whether he had threatened to overrule prisons chief Derek Lewis.

The question was repeated again on Wednesday night, to which the Conservative politician replied: "No Jeremy, I didn't, but feel free to ask another 11 times."

Michael Howard and Jeremy Paxman laugh Michael Howard and Jeremy Paxman share a joke in the Newsnight studio

Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow, who visited the BBC on Wednesday to interview Paxman, sang a jaunty tribute to the broadcaster in the reception of Broadcasting House.

"Paxo's gone, is Newsnight dead?" lamented the Channel 4 rival, accompanied by the CC Smugglers band, who were performing at a busking event to mark the launch of BBC Music.

But Wednesday's Newsnight ended with the briefest of weather forecasts presented in Paxman's inimitable style. "And tomorrow's weather - more of the same. I don't know why they make such a fuss about it."

BBC director general Tony Hall described the broadcaster as "a rare and dazzling talent", while BBC News boss James Harding said he had become the "great lion of BBC journalism" who "never failed to ask the difficult questions".

Paxman's departure from Newsnight was announced in April, when he said that he wanted to "go to bed at much the same time as most people".

He will continue to present BBC Two quiz University Challenge and documentary programmes.

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