John McCririck has died at the age of 79.
The sports broadcaster’s death was reported by the Racing Post who tweeted: ‘Sad to report that legendary racing broadcaster John McCririck has died at the age of 79.’
McCririck was the face of Channel 4 Racing, and one of the sport's most recognisable figures. He was also an award-winning journalist for The Sporting Life
— Racing Post (@RacingPost) July 5, 2019
Last year, John made predictions about his own death, admitting he believed he had just months left to live because of his extreme weight loss.
The 79-year-old was easily the most recognisable face and name in the racing pundit world, having won two coveted awards for investigative journalism during his time with The Sporting Life.
Roger Easterby, who was close friends with John for more than 40 years, told the Post:
John was often referred to as being like Marmite, but I believe people genuinely liked him. He was kind, generous and knew his subject inside out.
John was at the face of racing at Channel 4 for 28 years before being dropped in 2012, however non-sports fans may know him from his famed appearance on Celebrity Big Brother in 2005.
After his dismissal from Channel 4, John attempted to take the company to an employment tribunal for age discrimination, stating the stress of his departure had left his life without meaning, however the tribunal ruled against him.
At the time, he told the Daily Mail:
Life is empty. I don’t expect to be alive this time next year. It’s a question of slipping away.
Racing was my life but now when I go I think ‘what am I doing here?’ I feel like a dinosaur. You’re a lost soul wandering around an environment you’re no longer part of.
John suffered with flu over Christmas, which left him unable to speak for three months and caused him to lose three stone in weight.
Speaking of his illness while appearing on This Morning, John said:
I’m not well. When you’re 78 you’re never going to fully recover. I don’t expect to.
I say to everybody, set yourself a target. If you’re not well, you’re ill, set yourself a target that you will reach in three-to-six months time.
John’s full family statement reads:
Award winning journalist, broadcaster and for many years the face of British horse racing, John McCririck, passed away at a London hospital on Friday 5 July aged 79.
John’s interest in horse racing and betting began at Harrow where he was the school bookie. On leaving he worked for an illegal street bookmaker then legally on-course where he learned the art of tic-tac, clerking bets and making a book.
John cut his teeth in racing journalism on ‘Formindex’, a tipping sheet otherwise known as ‘The Golden Guide’. He went on to write for The Sporting Life where he won British Press Awards, ‘Specialist Writer of the Year’ and ‘Campaigning Journalist of the Year’.
John jointed ITV in 1981 for Shergar’s Derby then became a household name as part of the Channel 4 Racing team when they took over coverage of the sport in 1984. His flamboyant broadcasting style from the heart of betting ring proved extremely popular with racing fans and beyond. John continued to work for Channel 4 Racing until 2013 as well as satellite channel At the Races. In this time he transcended the world of racing, appearing on numerous mainstream TV news and light entertainment programmes including Question Time, The Weakest Link, Celebrity Wife Swap and Celebrity Big Brother in 2005 and 2010.
Despite suffering ill health in recent months, John continued to make several TV and radio appearances.
He is survived by Jenny, his wife of 48 years. His funeral will be private.
Rest in peace, John.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.