It's obvious why John McCririck was put out to grass - and it has nothing to do with his age

The ex-TV presenter believes himself a freedom fighter for those of a certain age

Share
Related Topics

I only once encountered John McCririck at close quarters. We were at neighbouring tables at a smart London restaurant, and I found it very hard to take my eyes of him. He was with his wife - “The Booby”, of whom more later - and they positioned themselves side-by-side at the table. Throughout the entire course of the meal, not a word passed between the couple, as McCririck sat there reading a newspaper.

It wasn't just his penchant for gold costume jewellery, his dandy-meets-Sherlock-Holmes dress sense, his overgrown sideburns and his theatrical conversational style, that ensured McCririck cut an eccentric figure. His opinions, too, often expressed with pantomime rage, made him a singular character as a television presenter.

For 29 years as a racing pundit for Channel 4, McCririck lived the dream, unworried about who he might offend, unabashed about his studiedly controversial persona. And at the age of 73, it all came to an end, not with a valedictory parade at Cheltenham, cheered to the rafters by an adoring public but with a phone call and a press release.

In McCririck's own words, he had been done for by the “anonymous suits and skirts” who run television. Yesterday, an employment tribunal ruled that he had not been sacked because he was too old, but because he had, in the view of his bosses, run his race. In style and substance, he was an anachronism.

I don't know which bit of Channel 4's imprecation to leave McCririck didn't understand. He said he was encouraged to behave like a stage villain, but he must have known that such acts have a limited time span. His wife Jenny vehemently defended McCririck against any charges of sexism, although, given that she uncomplainingly accepts the moniker “The Booby” - thus christened by her husband because, he says, she's “not very bright, sqwauks a lot and is easy to catch” - her opinion might be considered inadmissable.

Even in the course of the tribunal hearing, McCririck appeared to be channeling UKIP's Godfrey Bloom, and, having declared that he had a penchant for women with fringes, he said: “I happen, sadly, to be someone who likes the female front structure a bit more than different parts of their anatomy.” Why that should be a cause for regret, I don't know, but that sentence tells you most of what you need to know about McCririck. He's an inappropriate, out-of-date controversialist, and you can understand why Channel 4, keen to widen the appeal of such an esoteric pursuit as horse racing, put him out to grass.

Outside the court, McCririck was eager to portray himself as a freedom fighter for those of a certain age. And it's true that the insecurity felt by workers in their forties, fifties and sixties these days is a very real, and shamefully under-reported, phenomenon. Anyone of that age who works in an office lives with the fear that they are about to replaced with someone younger, cheaper and with a more intuitive understanding of technology. That's where real age discrimination takes place. There is an important, very serious debate about ageism in the workplace to be had, and it shouldn't be hijacked by a pompous, preening self-publicist.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves that we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Alan Titchmarsh MP?  

Alan Titchmarsh MP? His independent manifesto gets my vote

Jane Merrick
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue