It sounds like the kind of TV idea that Alan Partridge would come up with. But even the originator of Millenium Barndance with Jet from Gladiator or Monkey Tennis would struggle to conceve of something as daft as hiring Gok Wan for horseracing coverage.
However, it has emerged from the John McCririck tribunal that this was precisely what Jamie Aitchison, the commissioning editor for sport at Channel 4, wanted – with Wan commentating solely on the fashion and not the form of the runners and riders.
Aitchison, one of Channel 4’s more colourful characters, had considered using the How To Look Good Naked presenter as part of the same revamp that saw McCririck axed.
However, given that the plan was to make Channel 4’s racing coverage more “serious”” the channel insists that Wan would not have commented on the racing or betting but only on the fashion.
Aitchison told the hearing: “Gok Wan is in fashion, that is what he would have been doing.”
During the hearing, Aitchison claimed McCririck was let go because of his “pantomime’ style” and because many viewers saw him as “unappealing and irritating”.
McCririck, 73, is suing the channel and production company IMG over his dismissal, which he claims was solely down to ageism.
In March 2012 the broadcaster landed the rights to air all UK horseracing events for the following year. IMG took over the production of the channel’s racing coverage on 1 January and declined to give McCririck a contract.