Big Mac bids channel 4 farewell

  • Last Updated: December 28 2012, 13:03 GMT

John McCririck is clinging to hope that he might appear on Channel 4 Racing at some point in the future as the curtain comes down on a colourful era.

John McCririck: End of an era

Saturday sees the final day of the long-standing Channel 4 team, with the Morning Line and racing from Newbury, Doncaster and Leopardstown bringing down the curtain.

IMG Media takes over from Highflyer in producing Channel 4 Racing which will be solely responsible for the sport on terrestrial TV after BBC coverage came to an end.

McCririck, 72, is one of several familiar faces who will not be on the new team along with Derek Thompson, Mike Cattermole and Alastair Down.

Although bitterly disappointed, McCririck described his time at Channel 4 as a "privilege".

"It's been a fantastic experience to do what you love doing for 30 years," he said.

"Nearly every other sport has someone on that has done that sport - Gary Lineker in football, the cricketers, the golfers etc.

"I'd worked in betting shops before going on to television and tried to pass on what was happening in the betting ring.

"It's been a privilege.

"There are two things different about it. There is no-one else on television who is regularly among the public, hour-in hour-out.

"There's no point putting prices on the screen. You have to be in the ring, see what's happening and try to pass on what the betting jungle is like.

"That's been a motivation and a difficult thing, but the benefit it brings is no-one can compare how bad I am. I've been lucky enough in that there's no-one else going round the betting ring like me.

"Strange things happen in life and I'm still hoping they will have a re-think and they might call me back. I know I'm being optimistic, but you never know.

"My New Year's resolution is to get back on the Channel 4 team, but it's been a great time.

"If I was sitting at home what I would want to know is what is happening in the betting ring, that's the motto I've always had.

"That is always how I followed it and it's been fantastic working with Tanya Stevenson bringing in all the exchanges. It's important to inform all punters what is happening on the machines and in the betting ring.

"It's been great fun. There's been one or two disasters but it's been a privilege to do and I'm very sorry for it to be unfairly taken away."

McCririck recalled the first time he faced the cameras from the betting ring.

"My very first programme was Shergar's Derby in 1981 with ITV," he said.

"We had no practice run and this was the heat of the Derby. In those days it was a real mass production, being put in the betting ring for the very first broadcast ITV had and no-one had done it from there before.

"Then in 1983 Channel 4 took over the racing so I've been with them ever since.

"A lot of the team are working for the new IMG Media which is a very good thing, but I'm very sad for people like Mike Cattermole, Alastair Down and Derek Thompson, who have been sacked because they are generally regarded as being too old. I think it's unfair.

"Whenever new people come in they have to kick people out because they are in charge now.

"I am still hoping Channel 4 might think of finding a spot for me and bring me back. You never know, life is very strange."


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