Jeremy Paxman credit BBC

Jeremy Paxman in University Challenge backlash after AD dropped from Christianity question

Mon 07 Jan 2019
By Alex Williams

Jeremy Paxman has drawn criticism from TV viewers after he omitted the term AD (Anno Domini) while asking a historical question about Christianity during University Challenge.

The longstanding presenter instead used the religiously neutral term Common Era when describing the year when Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as state religion.

Twitter user William Norris said: "Our Christian heritage is being eradicated from our culture by the BBC and the likes of Paxman."


Another, Pat Smart commented: "This constant removal of all things Christian disgusts me, but it's the BBC!"

Well-known figures representing Peterhouse, Cambridge and the London School of Economics were appearing in a celebrity edition of the hit show broadcast last week.


Paxman, 68, asked: "In about CE300, which country in the Caucasus region became the first to adopt Christianity as a state religion?"

Another view, Simon Wilson tweeted: "I do wish Paxman would stop referring to the 'common era' and 'before common era'; it should be BC and AD".


The traditional terms BC (Before Christ) and Anno Domini - which means 'in the year of our Lord' in ancient Latin - have increasingly fallen out of use in areas of popular culture.

BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era), which do not hold religious connotations, have become more prominent.

Jonathan Brady/PA Wire


On the Religion and Ethics Tool page of its website, the BBC says it favours the terms as a "religiously neutral alternative to BC/AD".

Figures including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton have previously defended the use of BC and AD.

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