Racing pundit John McCririck has been dropped by Channel 4 to be replaced by a younger team headed up by acclaimed London 2012 presenter Clare Balding.
Last night McCririck spoke of his devastation and accused former BBC executives at Channel 4 of treading the “well-worn path of ageism” after being told of the decision just half an hour before a statement was released to the press.
But Channel 4, eager to attract a new and younger audience to house racing, has appointed former jockey Balding, 41, to head a revamped racing team including experienced broadcaster Nick Luck and reporters Alice Plunkett, Emma Spencer and Rishi Persad.
McCririck’s sidekick Tanya Stevenson will replace her former co-presenter, providing information on betting markets.
Speaking from Las Vegas, McCririck said: “It had always been a dream of mine to report from the racecourse betting jungles of Aintree and Ascot”, referring to Channel 4’s new additions for next year.
“But according to Channel 4 I’m being sacked after audience research.”
Despite the sacking, McCririck praised Balding as a “terrific choice”.
McCririck has been a racing pundit for over 30 years, and despite his popularity with racegoers and betting fans he has proved to be a controversial figure in the past.
He was evicted after 12 days in the 2005 Celebrity Big Brother house after accusations of sexism and misogyny. His appearance on the Channel 4 series Wife Swap led to criticism about how he expected his wife, who he refers to as The Booby, to do everything for him.
Article from TNT Magazine