Sport on TV: Old snooker players never dye, they just lose their ball control

Eight hours and 50 minutes, the average length of time it used to take Cliff "The Grinder" Thorburn to complete a frame at the Crucible, is this year the amount of time BBC2 devoted each day to coverage of the first week of the World Snooker Championship from the storied Sheffield venue.

So instead of getting a life, you could have spent two and a half days last week musing on eternal snooker questions such as: who will be the first commentator to refer to the Crucible as "the white-hot cauldron"? Is Willie Thorne's head really getting bigger every year? And are Dennis Taylor's glasses getting smaller?

The principal attraction of the first round is seeing how many of the old shootists can navigate their way past the young guns. First legend to fall was Steve Davis, dispatched to the Boot Hill of the commentary box by the Aussie Neil Robertson. Davis made his first appearance at the Crucible 29 years ago, three years before Robertson was born, but he never looked likely to add to his six titles, subsiding 10-2. He even came second in the hairdo contest, his former glowing ginger locks reduced to a greying crop, while Robertson sported a Bondi-blond bed-head look.

At 40, Stephen Hendry is 11 years younger than The Nugget, but has one more world title, seven against six. He saw off another former winner, Mark Williams, in the first round, then opened proceedings in the second by easing past the 22-year-old Chinese hotshot Ding Junhui. Cue a Stat Attack from the commentary team, who went into rhapsodies as Hendry completed his 1,000th frame at the Crucible; add phrases such as "rolling back the years" and "a record unlikely ever to be beaten" to taste.

The biggest age disparity by far, though, came on Thursday in a sideshow tournament called Super 6s, snooker's answer to Twenty20 cricket: a sudden-death, one-frame affair with only six reds. In the final, the former world No 2 Tony "Bad Boy" Knowles, now 53, beat the 13-year-old Junior Pot Black champion, Ross Muir. Call that fair, Knowles? Pick on someone your own size, and age. You could have scarred the lad for life.

* Flicking through the channels on Friday night while waiting for the snooker highlights unearthed one called Discovery Shed, which wins a small prize in a crowded field for most obscure and randomly punctuated title. But their series The Compleat Angler is a little gem. In each half-hour episode the actor Geoffrey Palmer is instructed how to fish for a different species, following the precepts laid down by Izaak Walton in his eponymous book.

The boyish delight the 81-year-old Palmer showed when landing a sizeable carp was infectious. However good Stephen Hendry is, I doubt we'll be seeing him still active on our screens in his eighties.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments