Racing pundit John McCririck insisted today that he had played the part of a "pantomime villain" and claimed he had never been ordered to tone down his on-screen style.
Speaking on the first day of his employment tribunal against Channel 4, the 73-year-old said he had lost his job purely based on his age, claiming: "There's nobody better around."

McCririck is taking former employer Channel 4 and TV production company IMG Media Limited to the tribunal, alleging that his sacking last year was motivated by age discrimination.

The case, in central London, started today but was adjourned until tomorrow morning while its panel of judges reads witness statements and watches clips of McCririck's appearances on television, including racing coverage as well as reality TV shows including Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Wife Swap.

McCririck - known for his bling jewellery, sideburns and deerstalker hat - was dropped when the station unveiled a new presenting team headed by Clare Balding.

He later announced his plans to sue Channel 4 for £3 million, claiming the broadcaster had axed him because he was too old.

Speaking after this morning's brief hearing, the 73-year-old, who was accompanied by wife Jenny, said his apparent sexism was part of a pantomime role he claimed he had been encouraged to continue, especially including his appearance in reality TV shows.

" All the Big Brothers etc, it's a pantomime," he said.

"Because Captain Hook is horrible to Peter Pan and kids in Peter Pan, it doesn't mean the actor playing him goes around abusing kids in the street.

"All this is a pantomime villain thing that Channel 4 encouraged."

McCririck denied he was "anti-women", and said if anyone he had given a nickname to during his time on air had asked him not to, he would have stopped.

"It's a very public school thing, it's a bit immature but it lightens up the programme.

"Channel 4 never, ever said 'Look, we don't like this sexist thing, we don't like it when you call your names, don't wave your arms around'.

"If the producer had said 'Don't wave your arms around', fine, I would not have. They never, ever spoke to me once."

Article from Belfast Telegraph