In the Eighties snooker made it big on television, attracting huge ratings and making stars of figures such as Steve Davis, Alex ("Hurricane") Higgins and Jimmy White. The World Championships at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre occupied great slabs of the BBC2 schedule, and commentators such as "Whispering" Ted Lowe became as famous as Richie Benaud in cricket or John Motson in soccer.
This documentary argued that one of the principal reasons for snooker's meteoric rise to popularity was color television. The BBC's POT BLACK introduced many of snooker's legends to a mass audience; and the World Championship simply expanded the audience. Hustlers such as Barry Hearn exploited this ever-increasing demand for snooker with a series of clever publicity strategies, transforming the rather colorless Davis into a major personality. Meanwhile Higgins became a one-person magnet for publicity through his increasingly eccentric behavior both inside and outside the snooker-hall.
There were certainly some memorable matches during this period, notably the Davis vs. Dennis Taylor final of 1985, which attracted record ratings as it finally finished at 1 a.m. There were also larger-than-life personalities with a yen for the televisual - not only Higgins and Davis, but older players such as Ray Reardon with his Dracula-like looks. In the end it was a combination of novelty, skillful publicity and ability that rendered snooker such a successful sport.
While the World Championship continues to be broadcast annually, and personalities such as "Rocket" Ronnie O'Sullivan are still somewhat larger-than-life, snooker has lost its popularity. Perhaps this is due to increasing professionalization; we are unlikely to see unpredictable geniuses such as Higgins any more. Or maybe the new generation of players are just too colorless. Maybe Barry Hearn needs to come back and reignite the sport with a dose of chutzpah.
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this