Jeremy Paxman's beard became a trending topic on Twitter during Newsnight on Monday evening (August 12, 2013).

Remember when Beyonce announced she was pregnant at the MTV Video Music Awards and it was tweeted more than four trillion times? Well, Jeremy Paxman's beard was tweeted more than four quadrillion times - probably.

Audiences were stunned as the no-nonsense journalist introduced his political programme on BBC Two sporting a grizzly beard, though it was overwhelmingly given the thumbs up.

Crime writer Ian Rankin commented: "It is 1973 and I'm really digging the new album by Paxman's Beard." 

"Don't even lie to yourself. Jeremy Paxman looks sick with a beard," said another Twitter user.

Somewhat predictably, Jeremy Paxman's beard joined Angelina Jolie's leg and Justin Bieber's monkey and started up its own account on the micro-blogging website.

"Still no followers. The beard waits patiently biding its time." read one post from the account.

"I'm 100% REAL," came another.

Paxman's stylish facial head comes almost a year after he famously noted on air that the "beard quotient seems to be down" at the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference.

The spikey political journalist and host of University Challenge  had been on holiday for a couple of weeks before Monday's programme, perhaps relaxing and deciding not to shave while enjoying the sun, sea and sand somewhere exotic. The 63-year-old appears to have laid down the gauntlet to his colleagues,

"Right that's it," tweeted fellow BBC journalist Emily Maitlis. "I'm working on a moustache."

Jeremy PaxmanJeremy Paxman's Beard Is Here. But Is It Here To Stay?