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Tuesday 23 August 2022

John McCririck

The late John McCririck, who died from lung cancer in July, 2019 at the age of 79, was the face of Channel 4 Racing for more than 25 years. Instantly recognisable by his trademark dundreary whiskers, deerstalker and generally eccentric dress sense, McCririck was unashamedly loud, brash and, often, offensive to those of a politically-correct disposition.

However, behind the 'pantomime villain' facade, McCririck was a complex character. Formerly an award-winning newspaper journalist, with 'The Sporting Life' and elsewhere, he joined ITV Sport in 1981 and Channel 4 Racing in 1984. Although always something of a 'Marmite' character, his colourful, flamboyant style, coupled with his comprehensive knowledge of the betting landscape, made him extremely popular with many horse racing fans. Despite being an Old Harrovian, McCririck did care passionately about the ordinary, small-time punter, whose cause he championed.

Popular or not, McCririck was sacked from Channel 4 Racing, effective from January, 2013. McCririck, 72, took exception to his dismissal, citing age discrimination, and took his former employer to an employment tribunal, seeking £3 million in damages. However, the following November, a panel at the Central London Employment Tribunal unanimously ruled against him, stating that he was sacked not because of his age, but because his views were 'unpalatable to a wider audience' as Channel 4 and production company IMG Media Limited attempted to increase viewing figures. McCririck responded by saying, 'This is an historic setback for all employees in their thirties to their seventies.'


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