Devastated John McCririck hits out at Channel 4 'ageism' as he's sacked by 'audience research'

  • @bobjwilliams

A devastated John McCririck, the longtime face of Channel 4 racing, has launched a scathing attack on the channel's bosses, accusing them of “ageism” after he was sacked from the station's line-up.

The outspoken, Harrow-educated tipster, is set to be replaced by a younger presenting team including Clare Balding, who won praise for her performance on the BBC during the London Olympics.

McCririck, who has been involved in racing broadcasting since 1981, is said to have revolutionised the way news from the betting ring was reported on TV.

The 72-year-old said today that he was “devastated at being sacked” after Channel 4 announced its new team.

McCririck's current co-presenter, Tanya Stevenson, who he often refers to as 'The Female' on air, will replace him.

The presenter, who is known for his bling, sideburns and deerstalker, also came to the attention of the public after his bizarre appearance on Celebrity Big Brother.

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, who was signed up by the channel earlier this year, with be supported by Nick Luck - who has been named as the main presenter.

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.”