Robin Scott-Elliot: 'I do believe in power snooker, I do believe in power snooker...' No, I don't

View From The Sofa: Power Snooker, ITV / Final Score, BBC1

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The Independent Online

If, and bear with me here, Sepp "Some of my best friends" Blatter and Rob "Nothing to do with me" Andrew were settling down on the sofa together, sharing a giant tub of salty popcorn and a reasonably priced bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, to watch Power Snooker they would surely have exchanged a wistful glance when it came to the interviews. If only, Sepp might have said, placing a consoling hand on Rob's broad shoulders, we had been confronted by Sarah Stone.

It was Stone's job to ask the questions on Power Snooker. As I am not a subscriber to MUTV this was my first experience of Stone's style and she has the in-house technique honed to perfection. She's a touchy-feely questioner. Her line of attack has two prongs: a) "How do you feel?" and b) "How are you feeling?" Slightly uncomfortable should have been the answer, to judge by the body language on display among the players.

There is a sporting formula that reads something like: the more women are involved as dressing and the less they are wearing, the more the organisers are trying to hide that their sport has less to offer (see darts, Formula One, American football and the fact that Sky's cheerleaders disappeared pretty quickly when they realised that the football was actually worth watching all on its own). Power Snooker is sport as the Emperor's new clothes.

Mark Selby and Matthew Stevens seemed rather embarrassed as they made their entrances clutching cues. Both elected to pocket their free hand to at least spare it having to experience what the rest of the body was being put through. Alongside them strode a woman in a scant and probably pocketless red dress. From the moment a beer company sponsoring the programme proclaimed it "real men's TV" with some crass bloke joke, this was scraping the barrel. If this was scratch-and-sniff TV the aroma would have been of warm lager.

The ever able Matt Smith did his best but he did not look as if he was convinced by it all. The programme had the fingers-crossed approach: the more someone said Power Snooker was "wizz bang", "the future", "exciting" or "raucous", the more likely it was to be true. This is known as the Peter Pan syndrome by the smaller occupants of my sofa. Its evidential basis is Wendy chanting: "I do believe in fairies, I do believe in fairies." Which probably makes Ronnie O'Sullivan Tinkerbell.

O'Sullivan was in the commentary box for the first game – "All right, how you doing?" – and sprinkled a little stardust on proceedings. The speed with which he seized on what shot should be played, and how, was eye opening for the novice. But he could do that for any snooker event with or without added power.

Much more comforting was Tim Gudgin's farewell. Gudgin called his final football results for the BBC on Saturday at the age of 81 and got half the scoreline of his dreams in "East Fife five". Unfortunately, they were playing East Stirlingshire rather than Forfar and they failed to score one, let alone four. I was fortunate enough to sit alongside Gudgin in the Grandstand bunker for a time and can reveal that one of the industry's absolute gentlemen used to plough through the divisions in his stockinged feet, as he would have put it. A lovely man from a different age and probably not Power Snooker's target audience.

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