Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman has laughed off the fuss caused by his beard – saying that he may keep it.

The broadcaster’s appearance raised eyebrows when he fronted the BBC Two current affairs show with a crop of noticeable new facial hair.

Paxman, 63, said that many at the BBC are pogonophobic – afraid of beards – but that it was up to him whether he would revert back to his usual appearance or not.

He said: “I have grown a beard for the last few summers, and suddenly wondered whether I really needed to shave it off to present Newsnight.

“Unless you’re lucky enough to be Uncle Albert on Only Fools And Horses, Demis Roussos or Abu Hamza, the BBC is generally as pogonophobic as the late-lamented Albanian dictator, Enver Hoxha.

“I may keep it or I may shave it off, but I think I’ll make my own decision.”

Paxman’s appearance sparked comment on Twitter, where the broadcaster’s fellow presenter Emily Maitlis tweeted: “Right that’s it. I’m working on a moustache for Thursday’s Newsnight.”

Crime writer Ian Rankin wrote: “It is 1973 and I’m really digging the new album by Paxman’s Beard.”

Presenter Kirstie Allsopp wrote: “Paxo with a beard is like me going blonde, there are just some things that are not meant to be.”

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

Broadcaster Danny Baker said: “I really do not think Jeremy Paxman should be granted a beard. It’s corrupt. Disney had it right. Hey BBC – no news beards.”

He added: “Do you think a single person in the news room had the balls to say ‘Hey Jeremy. The beard. You look f***ing ridiculous’.”

Photo: BBC