Toon fan and legendary horse racing pundit John McCririck has died aged 79.
The pundit and CBB star has been dogged by health issues in recent years and chillingly said last year he would not live to see another summer.
It was then he announced he had months to live after a serious illness triggered his extreme weight loss.
At that time, he shocked fans with his gaunt appearance after shedding 3st in weight after falling ill with a chest infection.
His family confirmed the news he had passed away at a London hospital on Friday.
A statement read: “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.”
Although he was from down south, McCririck was a supporter of Newcastle United after adopting them as a child. He also claimed to have an uncle from the city.
Eccentric McCririck was arguably horse racing’s best-known media personality.
Born in Surbiton, South West London, and raised in Jersey, he attended Harrow School and worked as a bookmaker before becoming a journalist at The Sporting Life in 1968 and later the Daily Star.
His career as a TV betting pundit started in 1981, when he joined ITV’s horse racing presenting team.
Coverage of the sport then moved to Channel 4, becoming Channel 4 Racing, where he became a household name for his flamboyant style.
After being dropped by the channel in 2013, he accused it of ageism and took his case to an employment tribunal, seeking damages of £3m, but lost.
He also starred on Celebrity Big Brother and Wife Swap.
He told the Daily Mail last year: “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.
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“You’re a lost soul wandering around an environment you’re no longer part of.”
McCririck lived in north London with his wife of 48 years Jenny, whom he called ‘the Booby’.
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