Your pull-out guide to the BBC snooker commentary team

Ed Williamson

26th April 2012

The May bank holiday's just around the corner and that means only one thing: the snooker's on, and we're all glued to the baize. The BBC has made The Crucible into our theatre of dreams in its coverage over the years, but what of the men (and a woman, though they seem to have binned her now) who bring it to you? What's their bloody deal?

Ever since the ritual sacrifice of Clive Everton in the early part of this century, the BBC snooker punditry team has comprised a group of former players whose lives make for interesting reading. Here we delve inside their all-too-murky world in search of the men behind the microphone.
John Virgo

Though beset by vigilante attacks in recent years owing to the fact that Peter Sutcliffe now looks a lot like him having put on a few stone in Broadmoor, Virgo has risen steadily to the top of the tree of snooker punditry.

A man whose thirst for explanation is never quenched, he can often be heard to wonder aloud where the cue ball is going, with levels of excitement ranging from whispered reverence to all-out bowel-loosening screams, despite the sure fact that he will find out in a matter of seconds. In every recorded case it has either gone in the pocket or stayed out. And yet still he wonders.
Neal Foulds

As the inventor of the foulding chair, Foulds has little need for money, and so offers his punditing services to the BBC free of charge. He can often be found wandering the streets of his native Ealing, handing out cash to the local homeless and offering free advice on the delivery of check side. While the former is in the main gratefully accepted, the latter is largely met with bafflement as to how it can be administered in the street without cue, ball or table. The solution eludes even Foulds.
Dennis Taylor

Born the son of a clam salesman and a cheeky otter, Dennis Taylor first hit the professional circuit in the early 1970s, earning favour with audiences for wearing a pair of glasses that made him look like an absolute loon.

He eventually won the World Championship in 1985, beating Steve Davis by 178 frames to 177 after a respotted black that lasted eight days, during which he used Davis's decision-making time to build himself a new cue out of bar snacks and bits of the Crucible carpet. He still uses it to this day when fending off potential balcony-scalers seeking to make off with his daughter's honour.
Steve Davis

Having bestrode the sport like a colossus in the 1980s, Davis continues to play to a high standard but now mainly divides his time between his commentary work and the six Polynesian islands of which he is king, having seized them in a bloodless coup around the turn of the century.

Though strictly none of the states is a democracy, Davis is known as an equable sovereign, offering pardons to minor transgressors who can demonstrate an understanding of the miss rule. Referee Jan Verhaas acts as his enforcer, and is paid handsomely in meat.
John Parrott

Misfortune has befallen Parrott since his retirement from the professional circuit in the shape of an undiagnosed medical condition that leads him to walk like a Nazi stormtrooper. Though he faces the situation with good humour, it caused embarrassment on the Dachau leg of last year's European tour, which was further compounded when Terry Griffiths killed a man.
Willie Thorne

Thorne's media career was dealt a blow three years ago when it was discovered that his title of 'Snooker's Mr Maximum', thought to celebrate his prowess at achieving the coveted 147 maximum break, was in fact awarded due to an administrative glitch. The letter he received was supposed to be sent jointly to reggae star Maxi Priest and Prodigy dancer Maxim Reality, who live in the same house, but was sent to Thorne in error.

His attempts to have the decision overturned have been quashed by snooker's governing board, but he has been permitted to call himself Maxi Rodriguez, pending approval from Maxi Rodriguez.
Ken Doherty

A recent addition to the commentary team, though he continues to compete in ranking events, Doherty's career faltered when he fell out with the sport's authorities over his refusal to wear a bow-tie. He lobbied hard for the introduction of less constrictive neckwear to the players' uniform, staging a series of practical demonstrations of a saxophone neck strap, a string of sausages and a tame snake, but was informed that the wearing of the bow-tie had been decreed by God via Moses and thus an alternative could not be sanctioned.

Three weeks later at the China Open, Doherty turned up for his match against Tony Drago wearing a necklace woven from flock wallpaper, and was heavily fined and given a two-month ban.
A merry cadre of fools, brigands and charlatans are the BBC snooker commentary team. But without them, how would you know which was the baulk end?

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