The Paxman Process
It’s a rare honour to work with a bona fide British icon - and even moreso to shed light on a different side to them, bringing their true character to the public.
That’s exactly the privilege we got when we were asked to bring broadcasting legend Jeremy Paxman into the digital world. Well-known for his confrontational interviewing style and cutting remarks on University Challenge, Paxman has long been revered for his intellect and forthrightness - but not often for his lighthearted wit.
Creating Paxman’s website was not only a chance for us to discover his fun side, but an opportunity for to present a multi-dimensional image to the public, underscoring decades of illustrious achievements with a wry eccentricity.
We think the results speak for themselves, with a glowing endorsement from Paxman himself, as well as two Sussex Digital Awards, including the Gold award in the flagship Best Website category.
"I can’t recall which clown it was who told me I ought to replace my perfectly serviceable sandwich board with a website. But Bozboz did the business." - Jeremy Paxman
Creating an online hub for someone with such a significant offline personality was never going to be easy. Our first challenge was convincing Paxman that a well-designed website would add to the enormous success he has experienced across traditional media.
A key consideration was the promotion of Jeremy’s 2016 memoir, A Life In Questions, alongside his bestselling books on British history and politics, including Great Britain’s Great War and The Empire.
We knew that a website would be a valuable platform for increasing book sales - we simply needed a design that would reflect both the lively humour of Paxman’s written work and the often serious tone of his political interviews.
Outside the Box
To begin with, we erred on the side of caution, researching Paxman’s journalistic achievements and creating a photo-led design with a focus on public affairs. The end result was a digital journey through Paxman’s distinguished career - but we knew we needed something special to pique Paxman’s interest.
The feedback on these initial drafts was invaluable to us, as it allowed us to reach beyond the stereotype of an acerbic broadcaster, and see Paxman as he wanted to be portrayed. Working even more closely with him, we chose to focus on the playful intellect apparent in his history books.
Imagination and Collaboration
A major breakthrough was tapping into Paxman’s sense of irreverence. Rather than playing into the self-aggrandising stereotype that the media has built around Paxman, we looked at all of his worst publicity, and focused on some of the hilarious quotes that surfaced.
Realising that one of Paxman’s most interesting traits is his ability to laugh at himself, we created a tongue-in-cheek, somewhat self-deprecating website.
Featuring a Monty Pythonesque combination of vintage illustration and surrealism, the design is a result of close collaboration between Paxman himself and the Bozboz design team.
The result gives a fuller sense of Paxman than the media often allows for. The social and political expertise is there, certainly, as is the forthright style with which he presents it. Shown alongside comical quotes, personal photos and art criticism, however, it becomes apparent that this is just one side of a vivid and varied personality.
Finding the Balance
Creating an award-winning website to both match Jeremy Paxman’s legendary status and alter public perceptions of him was an exciting lesson in what digital media can achieve.
By working closely with Paxman, we developed a nuanced understanding of his character that we’re proud to present to the world.