John McCririck has sparked concern among fans after appearing gaunt while joining the panel for Big Brother’s Bit On The Side on Thursday evening.
The 78-year-old pundit, who appeared on CBB in January 2005, spoke exclusively to MailOnline hours after the show to address his health issues as he insisted his dramatic weight loss was born of his controversial Channel 4 sacking in 2013.
Admitting he suffered with depression following the shock dismissal, he confirmed a combination of his reaction to the sacking and a ‘serious flu’, which culminated in a chest infection, resulted in his dramatic weight loss and slimmed-down frame.
In his typically controversial manner, John chatted animatedly on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, yet fans were thrown by his physical appearance as he seemed remarkably slimmer than the usual look that has graced screens for 40 tears.
Swarming Twitter, viewers voiced worries over the controversial TV personality, with some fans insisting he looked ‘ill and gaunt’ – leading to discussion over his health – before his representative told MailOnline he was recovering from a chest infection.
In response to the shock from concerned and devoted vewers, a representative for John told MailOnline: ‘What started with flu in the New Year led to a serious chest infection, he is recovering well but slowly’
Swarming Twitter, viewers wrote: ‘I’ve never liked John McCririck, but it’s sad he looks so ill #BBBOTS… Shocking to see such a transformation. His health must not be good at all… John McCririck looks really poorly bbbots…
‘Can’t get over how much weight John McCririck’s lost! Has he been ill? #BBBOTS… #BBBOTS #JohnMcCririck looks ill… Jeez John McCririck looks so gaunt on #bbbots since I last saw him. What’s wrong with him?…
‘Poor John McCririck. Didn’t realise he had been so unwell. Hope the poor bloke’s OK #BBUK #BBBOTS… John McCririck is a Big Brother Legend!…
‘John McCririck swamped by his clothes tonight Why is he on there when clearly he is very frail?… John McCririck looks so frail and ill . Such a shame #BBBOTS #BBUK’.
Responding to the worries, John told MailOnline his weight loss was down to his sacking: ‘I was sacked by Channel 4, I was depressed, I lost my appetite… I had no motivation, no purpose in life. I’ve never missed a days work in 50 years’.
In 2013 John launched legal proceedings against Channel 4 seeking damages totalling £3million after his axing from the station’s new racing output however he lost out on the case later on.
The star, who was arguably the best known face on racing with appeal reaching far beyond the boundaries of the sport, was one of many not retained when C4 changed company producing racing output from Highflyer to IMG Sports Media.
Others who lost out included John Francome, Alastair Down, Derek Thompson and Mike Cattermole.
But John, who became famous for reporting from the betting ring in his own unique style, took his removal hard, alleging the decision was ageist and that he has suffered public humiliation.
Earlier this year, John revealed that his bout of ‘serious flu’ spread to his legs and voice: ‘I had terrible flu and it really got to my legs and voice ‑ it was awful… It’s hard to recover from and I’m not fully fit. But I’m Cheltenham-bound’.
In April, the TV legend revealed he has thrown himself into a health kick after his weight ballooned to 19 stone, as he proudly confirmed he had shed three stone after cutting down his portions and ridding his diet of potatoes.
Speaking about the illness, he said: ‘It’s been a bad year but I’ve been getting better slowly… I’d already lost weight but the flu accelerated it. My advice to other men never retire unless you have to. It’s been a bad year.’
He then joked: ‘I’ve cancelled my marathon next year! I don’t believe in exercise – just swimming and aqua aerobics’.
While his illness has been a factor in his weight loss he admitted he had wanted to lose weight as he said: ‘You don’t seen old men on walking sticks being able to carry the weight – bar Winston Churchill.’
John rather morbidly joked about death as he insisted he did not want a funeral and revealed he had given his wife – who he calls ‘Booby’ – his instructions for his death.
He said: ‘I don’t want a funeral, I think it’s selfish. I want a cremation and to be buried at Alexandra Park Racecourse – Booby knows what to do!’
John collapsed at Cheltenham Races in 2013 due to stress. After his collapse he was taken to hospital. His representative assured fans at the time: ‘John fully intends on being back on the course tomorrow.’