Ageism is a problem but John McCririck's just spoilt

I have no sympathy with telly presenters pleading victimisation. It sucks


My "journey" with John McCririck goes back over three decades, to a time when he wasn't old, just worryingly weird. I worked with the racing pundit on an early-evening entertainment show for ITV and afterwards I remember telling my boss Greg Dyke that I couldn't bear to work with Mr M ever again. The innuendo, the sneering, the panto behaviour – I felt sick with rage and I'm tough.

The point of this story is not to reinforce the man's misery – losing an age-discrimination case against Channel 4 last week means he's run up debts of hundreds of thousands of pounds and will have to remortgage his house – but to acknowledge the reality: Channel 4 employed him as a panto turn (with specialist knowledge, granted) and, as such, was perfectly entitled to dispense with his services when it fancied another style (Clare Balding).

The real losers in modern Britain are well-qualified men and women in their fifties and sixties who are being laid off against their will and who cannot find work, because age discrimination does exist. It is also insidious because it is so hard to prove. I write from the heart. People have emailed and written to me about their experiences, people who have applied for literally dozens of jobs without a reply. Don't let one high-profile case distract us from the fact: age discrimination is rampant.

When McCririck says, "this is a historic setback for all employees in their thirties to their seventies …. and the anonymous suits and skirts who control business …will now enjoy complete freedom to replace older employees whatever their unimpaired ability and merit", this is 100 per cent cack – the rantings of a spoilt broadcaster who erroneously believed he was unique, trying to pretend he is the poster boy for my generation. He can forget it. I, too, work in the fickle world of broadcast media and know only too well that anyone can be dumped at a moment's notice. It won't be because I'm old but because some new piece of audience research indicates that I'm past my sell-by date, temporarily out of favour until the swingometer of public taste moves back in my favour again in 10 years' time.

On Twitter, men and women agree this case was without merit. Only one chap pointed out that McCririck had 30 years of expertise. Well, he can use that knowledge in another medium, can't he? As with Miriam O'Reilly, I have no sympathy with telly presenters pleading victimisation. It sucks. How about a whip-round for Alan Titchmarsh now that he's been sidelined in the Beeb's Chelsea Show coverage?

Young, smart and muddled

Lily Allen has recorded a saccharine song for the John Lewis ad, just one in a tidal wave of lavish offerings from our major retailers this Yuletide. Lily doesn't care for sexism in pop and the "objectification" of her sex, but she's OK with the commercialisation of Christmas, ads that will result in parents feeling pressurised into spending a fortune on stuff for their kids that they can't afford.

Her new video, billed as a cutting comment on the exploitation of women, is pretty low-grade satire. At the start, a suited male instructs a surgeon to "take more out" – presumably fat – so Lily is more marketable. She has a point but shoots herself in the foot by appearing beautifully made-up and wearing a fabulous dress, surrounded by gyrating backing singers. This is about as subtle as my big toe.

If Lily hates the way female singers are packaged, why isn't she wearing her trackie bottoms? She is a lovely singer and a smart girl, but this video annoys more than it informs. I think a lot of young girls will watch it and completely miss the point of the acerbic lyrics, captivated by the visuals. As for Miley Cyrus declaring herself "the biggest feminist in the world" on Radio 1 last week … once a girl has stripped off and licked machinery, where else can she go to shock you into buying her product?

Watercooler moment

Imagine The Office crossed with Terminator, with a soundtrack by Rammstein and Tchaikovsky, and you have Blam!, one of the most entertaining shows I've seen for a long time. Sadly, this piece of physical theatre/dance crossed with performance art, which had its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, ended its London run last night.

Created and performed by the Danish company Neander, Blam! combines pure farce with moments of utter poignancy. Three nerds in an office, overseen by a charmless supervisor, embellish their dreary existence with fantasy games, emulating superheroes, fighting mock battles with staple guns, turning box files into armour. Only in Blam! could a man long to have sex with a watercooler and two Anglepoise lamps. I hope this show returns, it deserves a wider audience.

Tough call

Solihull has been named the happiest place to live in Britain, followed by North Yorkshire. Last Tuesday, I drove from my home in the Dales (a wonderful place to live as long as you don't mind rural roads not getting gritted when it snows) to Solihull, an affluent West Midlands town. There were a lot of posh houses with flamboyant gates in the road where my hotel was situated. But, sadly, my room faced a flat roof and ventilators rather than an uplifting expanse of greenery or trendy bars and shops.

I was speaking at a conference organised by the Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group – the people who have to deal with anti-social behaviour, often using carrots rather than sticks. What a nice bunch they were. And, thankfully, they have decided to rebrand their organisation. So if you can come up with a catchier title for people doing a tough job, please let them know.

Bricks are back

It's been a week of contrasts, from Solihull to Blam!, and then an evening hosting the Brick design awards in a ballroom full of architects, manufacturers and builders. Bricks define the English built environment more than any other material. After several years of decline in production, the government's Help to Buy scheme has seen house building lurch back into action, so bricks are once again in demand.

Taylor Wimpey has just announced it has sold all the homes it planned to build this year, and 30 per cent of those planned for 2014. Good news for the humble brick, an important part of our heritage.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
Andreas Lubitz runs the Airport Race half marathon in Hamburg on 13 September 2009  

Being sensitive to mental health need not lead us to downplay the horror of what Lubitz did

Will Gore
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing