Sacked racing presenter John McCririck slams C4 for ageism
'Bombastic' betting analyst, a face of TV racing for 30 years, is dropped from C4’s new coverage
ALTHOUGH he has a reputation as something of a sexist boor, Channel 4 racing tipster John McCririck has lined up alongside female TV presenters Miriam O'Reilly and Anna Ford and accused his bosses of ageism, after he was dropped by the channel last night.
The excitable 72-year-old, who has been a fixture of TV racing for 31 years, will not feature in Channel 4’s revamped racing coverage - and he’s not happy about it.
"According to Channel 4, I'm being sacked after audience research," he said. "Yes, I do antagonise people, as reactions to me on Celebrity Big Brother prove. But I was never asked to change my presentation style."
He pointed out that Channel 4 boss Jay Hunt and producer Carl Hicks are both former BBC executives and accused them of going "down the well worn path of ageism". O’Reilly won an age discrimination case against the BBC after losing her job on Countryfile in 2009.
As of next year, Channel 4 will be the only terrestrial broadcaster showing racing. Their coverage will be fronted by Claire Balding who has been poached from the BBC. Only one of the C4 presenting team is over 50.
Despite his well-publicised opinions on gender, McCririck applauded the appointment of Balding and appeared to have no qualms about the fact that his role as betting analyst is being taken over by his current sidekick, Tanya Stevenson, who he refers to on air as 'The Female'.
But he did say: "I trust those now in power – having shown their macho image as most new producers do, by getting rid of the their most well known older performer – don't forget racing appeals to all ages."
Famed for his deerstalker hat, cape and use of tic-tac, McCririck "transformed the way news from the betting ring at racecourses was shown on TV," says the Daily Mail.
His "bombastic" style tended to polarise opinions, says The Guardian. "[But] he is a widely recognised face of the sport and frequently the first port of call for other broadcasters when racing makes the headlines for good or bad reasons."
However, as The Daily Telegraph notes, Channel 4 is trying to change the sport's image and "with the channel keen to attract a new and younger audience to horse racing, there is to be no place for one of the sport's most recognisable characters".