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.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage

nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
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 Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Business Development Manager

£25000 - £27000 per annum + Bonus: Sauce Recruitment: Within your role as Busi...

IT Graduate

£15 - 20k: Guru Careers: We are looking for an eager IT Graduate / Technology ...

Ad Director / Sales Director

£55 - 65k + 25% Y1 OTE + Fantastic Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an e...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London