Surbiton-born John McCririck, known for his "unique and colourful broadcasting style", has died at the age of 79.

The pundit was an integral part of the horse racing scene for more than three decades in his role as the betting guru for ITV and later Channel 4 Racing.

McCririck, who in the 1970s won two coveted awards for investigative journalism during his time with The Sporting Life, was by far the most recognisable racing broadcaster of his era and achieved even wider fame through his appearances on entertainment programmes such as Celebrity Big Brother. He had been ill for some time.

Roger Easterby, a close friend of McCririck for more than 40 years, told Racing 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."

McCririck attended Harrow school and held a number of jobs before becoming a star of sports broadcasting in his early 40s.

Eccentric and outlandish, but enormously respected within the racing and bookmaking industries, he was best known for his appearances on Channel 4.

He left when the broadcaster axed him in 2012, prompting McCririck to launch an unsuccessful age-discrimination case.

McCririck is survived by his wife Jenny, better known to her late husband's legion of fans as The Booby.