December 1, 2015

UK Championship: BBC v Eurosport – Who’s winning the war?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:13 am
Daggers drawn: JV attempted to compete with the lads on Eurosport by drawing a pair of pants on the screen.

Daggers drawn: JV attempted to compete with the lads on Eurosport by drawing a pair of pants on the screen.

This UK Championship is already the source of much debate amongst the snooker community. Whether it be players moaning about the conditions or fans moaning about the format, there are no shortage of talking points even before we start talking about the snooker. Another added element this year is where everyone is watching it, do we stick to the tried and untrusted BBC coverage or are we ready to embrace the more laddish approach being offered by Eurosport for our punditry?

There is no doubt that the addition of Ronnie and Jimmy to the Eurosport studio is something of a coup for them. You can’t really imagine the unpredictable Rocket fitting in amongst the V-Neck jumpers and the more smiley and fluffy all round approach of the Beeb, throw in semi-retired hellraiser Jimmy and ringmaster Colin Murray, who seems to be there solely to goad the two naughty schoolboys on the sofa into ever more risqué behaviour for the baying mob and you have a surefire ratings winner.

Contrast this TFI Friday feel with the BBC, sticking to the old format like a dog hanging on to a manky old bone for dear life. It’s hard therefore to imagine that the unlikely figure of JP was the first to utter a profanity live on air to set the ball rolling. His comment about the ‘arse end of the tournament’ was only picked up by a couple of people, myself included, largely because we just all assumed we’d heard him wrong. Perhaps, he can feel the ship starting to sink beneath him and wants to jump on board HMS Eurosport and knows he has to up his geezability to do so.

You sense on Eurosport that it’s very much a game of two halves. Ronnie and Jimbo take a while to get into their stride in the afternoon and both look like someone has just got them out of bed to reluctantly sit there and talk about containing safeties when they’d rather be shaking off a heavy one in the Land of Nod. But once they’ve all been out for something to eat in between sessions, the ‘banter bus’ starts up and the smirks and in-jokes start to materialise. With each passing section the two seem to get naughtier and smirkier, possibly helped along by the odd bit of refreshment, with a grinning Colin sitting there poking them with a metaphorical stick to up the ante for the viewers. I’m telling you, this will all end in tears.

While none of the players would dare go near these three, they are of course contractually obliged to get Hazelled after they’ve won on the Beeb. Peter Ebdon even went so far as to give the radiant Ms Irvine a quick peck on the cheek yesterday on arrival and sat there talking about a different match, polishing his balls and Reiki. You’d not have known why he was actually there by the end as he seemed happy to talk about anything but the match he’d just played and won. He described the playing conditions on the outside tables as ‘challenging’ to which Hendry responded ‘very diplomatic’, that’s about as controversial as they get on there if you leave out JP’s arse references and JV’s crude drawings.

John Higgins was also given the Hazel grilling and looked back on his whole career in about five minutes following his win over Ali. Her question to John about what he would tell his 21 year old self given the chance was cleverly deflected by the Wizard of Wishaw, when everyone else was yelling at the screen ‘tell him not to go to Kiev in his mid-thirties’, he just changed the subject like the true pro that he is. It was all smiles and John left the studio no doubt relieved that he didn’t have to sit with the three lunatics on the other channel post-match.

I’ve mixed it up a bit in terms of where I am watching. I still largely prefer the commentary on the BBC, with the odd exception. If I was going to swap teams around like Lord Sugar does I’d probably send Dave Hendon over to the BBC and plonk Dennis in the Eurosport team. As with all the best battles, there are parts from both that you’d like as the perfect all round package but seeing as the evening coverage on the BBC is non-existent it feels the right thing to do to stick with them in the afternoon and then join the boys for a piss up in the evening.

Even though it will all end in tears….

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