He once struck terror into the hearts of politicians with his incisive — and relentless — interviewing techniques.

But Jeremy Paxman, who famously asked then-Home Secretary Michael Howard the same question 12 times during an appearance on Newsnight, cut a slightly softer figure during his return to broadcasting yesterday.

The former BBC host, who quit the corporation three years ago after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, now runs a podcast, Movers and Shakers, which features celebrities discussing the challenges of living with the degenerative condition.

Sipping a pint of lager and munching a Scotch egg, Paxman quizzed shadow health and social care secretary Wes Streeting in a London pub — a world away from the intense studios where he spent his career grilling ministers and MPs.

But despite his casual checked shirt and unkempt mop of white hair, the star journalist soon proved he has lost none of his renowned bite, hauling Mr Streeting over the coals on his plans for the NHS.

Jeremy Paxman demanded to know what Wes Streeting plans to do about the 'broken' NHS

Jeremy Paxman demanded to know what Wes Streeting plans to do about the ‘broken’ NHS 

Paxman sipped a pint of lager and ate a Scotch egg during the interview at a London pub, a world away from his

Paxman sipped a pint of lager and ate a Scotch egg during the interview at a London pub, a world away from his

Mr Streeting pledged to accelerate the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson's disease by delivering 62,000 more NHS neurology appointments a year

Mr Streeting pledged to accelerate the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease by delivering 62,000 more NHS neurology appointments a year

As the politician declared the health service is ‘broken’, Paxman, 74, cut across him, demanding: ‘Well what are you going to do about it?’

Mr Streeting is the first politician to appear on the podcast, which has been running since last year.

He used the interview to pledge to accelerate the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease by delivering 62,000 more NHS neurology appointments a year if his party wins the general election on July 4.

There are currently 234,119 patients in England on the waiting list for neurology services and almost half have been waiting for more than the NHS target of 18 weeks as of the end of April.

It means many of their illnesses will have gone undiagnosed and may have potentially worsened during that wait.

Speaking on the podcast, which will be released on Saturday, Mr Streeting recalled how he had a ‘terrifying experience’ being interviewed by Paxman on Newsnight when he was president of the National Union of Students.

Paxman now runs a podcast called Movers and Shakers which features celebrities discussing the challenges of living with Parkinson's disease

Paxman now runs a podcast called Movers and Shakers which features celebrities discussing the challenges of living with Parkinson’s disease

Other presenters include former BBC journalists Rory Cellan-Jones, Mark Mardell and Gillian Lacey-Solymar, plus Princess Diana's divorce barrister, Sir Nick Mostyn, and Vicar of Dibley co-writer Paul Mayhew-Archer

Other presenters include former BBC journalists Rory Cellan-Jones, Mark Mardell and Gillian Lacey-Solymar, plus Princess Diana’s divorce barrister, Sir Nick Mostyn, and Vicar of Dibley co-writer Paul Mayhew-Archer

He added: ‘I didn’t think it was going to happen again. I thought I’d escaped when you left Newsnight but here I am being subjected to the Paxo treatment.’

Other presenters on the podcast, who all have Parkinson’s disease, are several of Paxman’s former colleagues — BBC News’ former technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s ex-Europe and North America editor Mark Mardell and correspondent Gillian Lacey-Solymar. Also in the line-up is the late Princess Diana’s divorce barrister, Sir Nick Mostyn, and Vicar of Dibley co-writer Paul Mayhew-Archer.

Mr Streeting said: ‘Too many patients living with Parkinson’s disease are being left in the slow lane thanks to 14 years of Tory chaos, facing unacceptable waits to get diagnosed and treated.

‘Jeremy, Gillian, Paul, Rory, Nicholas and Mark all know how important it is to receive a timely diagnosis to get the treatment and care patients need.

‘NHS Parkinson’s services are in dire need of a change and only Labour has a plan to deliver it.

‘We will boost the number of neurology appointments every year by 62,000 and clear the 18-week backlog to get the NHS back on its feet.’

The podcast presenters marked World Parkinson’s Day earlier this year by presenting their ‘Parky Charter’, with tens of thousands of names, to Downing Street.

It calls for swift access to specialists for individuals with Parkinson’s under the NHS, the introduction of a Parkinson’s UK pamphlet for enhanced awareness and support, the implementation of a Parkinson’s passport granting automatic entitlement to specific benefits, improved comprehensive care, including regular consultations with a Parkinson’s nurse, and increased Government funding for research for a cure for the disease.

The group said: ‘The Movers and Shakers are thrilled that Wes Streeting has acknowledged the importance of our Parky charter and promised an extra 62,000 neurological appointment.

‘We’re delighted that he sees conditions like Parkinson’s at the heart of Labour’s vision for the NHS.

‘Should Labour form the next Government we will be watching closely to make sure this actually happens, and we will be pressing hard to get the rest of the Charter implemented.’

Paxman, who quit his BBC role after revealing his diagnosis in May 2021, has previously said: ‘Parkinson’s may not kill you but it will make you wish you hadn’t been born.

‘There’s nothing in it for the drug companies, it’s just more money for them.’

Movers and Shakers began in February 2023 and is described by the former Newsnight and University Challenge host as ‘good fun’.

Sir Nicholas this week launched King’s Parkinson’s, a new charitable fund aimed at raising money and focusing awareness on the need for better research and treatment for the disease. 

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