Sacked John McCririck condemns TV ageism
Long-serving face of Channel 4 racing John McCririck has blasted TV ageism and said he was devastated after being sacked as a result of "audience research".
The 72-year-old - known for his bling, sideburns and deerstalker - was dropped yesterday as the station unveiled its new presenting team to join Clare Balding.
McCririck - who is also well-known for his appearance on Celebrity Big Brother - accused the station of ditching older performers
He said: "It is so sad that Channel 4 boss Jay Hunt and production chief Carl Hicks, both long-time BBC executives, have again gone down their well-worn path of ageism.
"Among the 13 slated to be on screen, only Jimbo McGrath is over 50."
McCririck said he was only informed he was being axed half an hour before Channel 4 announced the new line-up.
"I trust those now in power, having shown their macho images as all new producers do by getting rid of their most well-known older performer, don't forget that racing appeals to all generations."
He went on: "Naturally I am devastated at being sacked after covering betting, first on ITV and then Channel 4, for 31 years.
"According to Channel 4, I'm being sacked after audience research."
Balding, one of the key presenters in the BBC's Olympics coverage, was signed up as the new face of C4's racing coverage earlier this year, shortly after the station signed a deal to effectively become the home of the sport by bagging the key highlights of the calendar.
Nick Luck was yesterday named as a main presenter, supporting Balding at many of the main events from January onwards, which include the Cheltenham Festival, Derby, Grand National and Royal Ascot.
Other names set to disappear from Channel 4's coverage include Mike Cattermole.
In the summer McCririck voiced his concern about the direction the station's coverage may take.
He said: "I just hope we don't go down the 'Fearne Cotton route', as I call it, in search of a mythical younger audience. You mustn't demean the viewers."
A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: "The presenting team for Channel 4 racing from 2013 includes a range of experienced broadcasters and racing experts and reflects our desire to give a new approach to covering horseracing as we become the terrestrial home of the sport."