John McCririck's appearances as a "pantomime villain" on a number of reality TV shows, did not reduce his "gravitas" as a serious racing pundit, he told an employment tribunal.
The former Channel 4 racing presenter is taking his former employers to tribunal, alleging his sacking last year was motivated by age discrimination.
The tribunal heard how McCririck had accepted he acted in a way that could be seen as sexist and bigoted, but said this behaviour had no baring on his ability to do his job. He said:
"No one ever came to me. Nobody has ever questioned my professionalism on Channel 4 racing, ever.
"My pantomime villain sexist image has been deliberately cultivated and played up.
"Because Captain Hook is horrid to children in Peter Pan it does not mean the actor playing him goes around abusing kids."
On the first day of his employment tribunal, racing pundit John McCririck insisted he was a victim of age discrimination and is not sexist.Read the full story ›
Racing pundit John McCririck said he had never been ordered to tone down his on-screen style by Channel 4, which he said saw him portray a "pantomime villain".
The 73-year-old, who claims he was sacked last year because of his age, also denied he was "anti-women" as he spoke on the first day of his employment tribunal against the channel. It was later adjourned until tomorrow morning.
McCririck claims he was dropped so the station's "youth-obsessed bosses" could unveil a new presenting team headed by Clare Balding.
He said the loss of his job had left him depressed and reduced to watching daytime TV, adding: "I want to work, I am capable of working and I have been denied work illegally. To wake up in the morning and not have a job to go to is awful."
John McCririck has said Channel 4 encouraged him to go on reality shows like Celebrity Wife Swap and Celebrity Big Brother before his new racing bosses told him they had "lessened his credibility" to the audience.
Speaking ahead of his tribunal, the pundit said his former employer acted illegally when they dropped him from their racing coverage, accusing them of ageism in "freshening up" their line-up with younger broadcasters.
Channel 4 has thanked John McCririck for his years of racing broadcasting, but confirmed it will "vigorously" fight the claim he was dropped because of his age.
A statement was released ahead of the tribunal opening in central London.
We are grateful to John McCririck for his contribution towards Channel 4 Racing over many years.
However we reject the suggestion that discrimination on the basis of age played any part in the decision not to include John in the Channel 4 Racing team from 2013 and we are vigorously defending this claim.
Racing pundit John McCririck has arrived at the London Central Employment Office for the start of his tribunal over alleged age discrimination.
The broadcaster and journalist is suing Channel 4 for unfair dismissal.
Racing pundit John McCririck told the Press Association that his employment tribunal was a "daunting ordeal" and all he wants "is my job back".
This is a chance for all people wherever they are employed who fear that they are going to be sacked because of their age, it's a time for all of them to take heart if the verdict goes for me.
I'm not in this for the money, all I want is my job back, it's all I have ever asked for.
It should never have come to the tribunal but they never back down, the suits and skirts can't be seen to back down.
Racing pundit John McCririck will begin his employment tribunal against former employer Channel 4 and TV production company IMG Media Limited today over alleged age discrimination.
The 73-year-old claims his sacking last year was motivated by age discrimination and the case is expected to last up to seven days.
McCririck, who appeared on Celebrity Big Brother, 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.
Channel 4 will broadcast the Muslim call to prayer every morning during Ramadan - the religious festival which sees millions of worshippers around the world fast for a month.
The channel's head of factual programming Ralph Lee said it had previously been nearly invisible on mainstream TV.
Writing in the Radio Times, he said that many non-Muslims saw Ramadan in terms of "the physical hardship of fasting and control" rather than as a "time of reformation and reflection".
The channel will broadcast the traditional call to prayer, delivered by muezzin Hassen Rasool, at the same time it is played in mosques around London.
Former horse racing pundit is suing Channel 4 for £3 million after being dropped last year.
We are grateful to John McCririck for his contribution towards the success of Channel 4 Racing over many years.
However we reject the suggestion that discrimination on the basis of age played any part in the decision not to renew his freelance contract and we will be vigorously defending this claim.