Egad! An era has ended; an epoch is over; the unthinkable has happened – John McCririck has been dropped from Channel 4’s team of racing presenters.
In a move which came as a bitter blow to the equestrian sport’s foremost be-whiskered pundit, McCririck has been put out to pasture to make way for a more youthful team headed up by Clare Balding and featuring Tanya Stevenson in McCririck’s old job of analysing the betting markets.
As you might imagine, the Celebrity Big Brother alumnus didn’t take the news well and lashed out at Channel 4, accusing the broadcaster of ageism.
“It had always been a dream of mine to report from the racecourse betting jungles of Aintree and Ascot,” he said. “But according to Channel 4 I’m being sacked after audience research.”
“It is so sad the Channel 4 boss Jay Hunt and producer Carl Hicks – both former BBC executives – have again gone down the well worn path of ageism.
“Without any consultation or being asked to change my presentation style I was only told by Channel 4 head of sport Jamie Aitcheson half an hour before their press statement went out.”
C4 replied to McCririck’s statement, saying that the re-tooled racing line-up “reflects our desire to give a new approach to covering horse racing as we become the terrestrial home of the sport.”
I, for one, will be sad to see McCririck go. From his rousing, archaism-packed oration to his Victorian industrialist’s facial hair, he brightened up racing no end.
Oh sure, I know some of you are thinking “good riddance” on account of McCririck’s 19th-century approach to political correctness, but that’s just his schtick, and his heart’s in the right place really (he vociferously campaigned against a BNP donor making the Gimcrack speech at York in 2011, for instance).
And let’s face facts: he’s funny. He’s a character. He’s a wag. He’s the Boris Johnson of televised sport. Just think – from now on, there’ll be no more of this…
…or this on Channel 4’s racing coverage…
So, I ask you: will you miss John McCririck? Do you think the racing will be a duller place without his larger-than-life presence? Or do you agree with Channel 4’s decision to send dear old John to the knacker’s yard? Vote in our poll and let us know…